Gavin Oattes used to be a successful standup comic, but traded that life in to follow the path of personal development, as a TEDx speaker, author and entrepreneur. He says it’s never too late to act on your dreams, but most people allow their fears to hold them back.
Of course, following your passions is easier said than done, especially when the odds seem stacked against you, and that little voice inside is full of doubt. So, I asked him how you can redirect your energy and put yourself on a new path…
RSNG Do you think that grabbing life by the horns, so to speak, is needed in a time of great anxiety?
GAVIN OATTES, STAND UP THINKER ‘I think more people need to grab today by the horns. Too many of us are living in the future or, of course, the past. For thousands of years we’ve been educated that to be truly happy we need to be present. Anxiety is deeply rooted in fear, usually associated with upcoming events. People need to do less and be more.’
‘The Sun Lounger Principle is about taking the energy you have from something that doesn’t really matter in life and applying it to the shit that does’
RSNG I like your idea of the Sun Lounger Principal from your book – how would you suggest that people can convert that sense of urgency that they have for short term rewards, like sun loungers, to longer term seemingly less urgent but more important rewards?
GO ‘Longer term goals/rewards are part of the problem. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having them but if your long-term goal is to be happy then you’ll never find true happiness. Happiness isn’t even a thing!’
‘The Sun Lounger Principle is about taking the energy you have from something that doesn’t really matter in life and applying it to the shit that does. Not happy at work? Do something about it now rather than put up with it. Unhappy in your relationship? Act now before you get to 65 and wonder what if?!’
RSNG What’s the funniest and yet most useful piece of life advice you have ever been given?
GO ‘My dad once told me “Gavin, the world’s full of dicks, we don’t need another one!” That’s it, that’s all he said. In other words, don’t be a dick. It’s a daily struggle for so many but I go out my way to not be a dick.’
RSNG Do you think that people have got the wrong end of the stick with this idea about passion driving everything, in that purpose is a more important metric? It seems that people think I need to generate passion in order to achieve, but the passion should just come from doing what you really enjoy, right?
GO ‘I love the idea of people being passionate about what they do but I guess you become passionate about things in time. Passion can drive people but purpose for me is definitely key.’
‘I really believe that in order to get the most out of life you need to ask yourself if you are trying to be the best in the world, or the best for the world? Best in your team or best for your team? We should all ask ourselves regularly why we’re here?’
RSNG What three insights did your own struggles with mental health give you, which enabled you to go on and help others, with their own struggles?
GO ‘There is a way through it. Talking to someone about it really does help. Other people care.’
RSNG Do you think it is a challenge to be curious given that we are bombarded with so much information, albeit largely pointless?
GO ‘I think too many adults have turned into ‘groan’-ups and forgotten what it really means to be curious. It’s the most natural thing to us as children, it’s like we unlearn it the older we get. Remember that five year old child that you once were. He (or she) is still inside you.’
‘Rediscover what it means to satisfy your curiosity. Pop your wellies on and go jump in puddles for no reason other than its joyous.’
RSNG What has having your own employees taught you about leadership?
GO ‘My mood has a huge impact on my judgement. Leadership is not about me. It’s about creating a legacy for others to be a part of. Be authentic, be empathetic and get comfortable with saying no.’
RSNG Do you have any tips for not giving up on your dreams?
GO ‘Dreams can change, sometimes they have to. And if you need to save yourself, do it.’
WHAT NEXT? Need some mindset hacks to boost your daily motivation? Then check these ones out from author Andy Ramage.
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About Gavin Oattes: Gavin is the author of ‘Life Will See You Now: Quit Waiting for the Light at the End of the Tunnel and Light That F*cker Up for Yourself’ (published by Capstone, February 2020). He is a sought-after speaker, regularly delivering keynote speeches at conferences and exhibitions around the world. He's also the Managing Director of Tree of Knowledge, a company which runs speaking events, workshops and training courses for businesses and schools.