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The Best of Beyond The Crucible 3 – Ryan Campbell: Piloting Past Paralysis #133

Warwick Fairfax

September 27, 2022

At 19, Ryan Campbell became the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world. Two years later, a horrific plane crash threatened more than the dream he birthed at 6 to make a life and a living streaking through the skies. Left a paraplegic after the accident, he fought back physically and emotionally to walk — and hope — again. Today, he’s an in-demand motivational speaker who inspires audiences to build a mindset toolbox to conquer their crucibles.

Highlights

  • When his dream of becoming a pilot was born (5:29)
  • The three things he always told people at age 6 (7:46)
  • The plan he hatched to learn to fly (10:01)
  • When he decided to try to become the youngest person to fly solo around the globe (12:05)
  • How he planned for two years to make his vision a reality (16:12)
  • The excitement of the around-the-world flight (18:23)
  • The accolades in the aftermath of the record-setting journey (19:47)
  • The terrible flight that changes everything (12:28)
  • How he came to mental grips with the crash (24:18)
  • We must decide to sink or swim in the midst of crucibles (30:47)
  • The importance of building a mindset toolbox to get beyond a crucible (34:08)
  • Comparing the things we learn from life’s highs and lows (37:38)
  • What is a mindset toolbox? (42:42)
  • Building a mindset toolbox checklist (49:25)
  • Key takeaways from the episode (57:08)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

How do you bounce back from an accident that could have killed you, leaves you a paraplegic and robs you of a passion that was birthed in you when you were just six years old? On this week’s episode of our greatest hits tour, you’ll learn it all starts with simply not giving up on your vision.

 

Ryan Campbell:

We started the airplane, you actually have to grab the propeller and spin the propeller with your hands, and start it by hand. So, it’s very old technology. And we taxied to the end of the runway, we lined up on this short grass airstrip nice and early in the morning to take off and go and look at the beach. And I pushed the power forward, the airplane performed beautifully, and we lifted off the ground, the runway. And the fence at the end of the runway disappeared beneath the nose, and straight away at about 150 feet over the top of the trees the engine failed. And we had a partial engine failure, and within three seconds, despite everything that I could do, we had no… I don’t know what I ever could have done different. We had nowhere to go, and we ended up in what was a horrific plane crash.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

You’ve just heard the traumatic low point in the story told today by our guest, Ryan Campbell. Ryan had loved flying, had loved the idea of flying since he was in single digits. At six years old he hatched a dream to become a pilot, that came true. So true in fact, that by the time he was 19 in 2013, he became the youngest person to ever fly solo around the globe. Things were looking bright for him and his future as a pilot in 2015 when the accident that he described at the outset of the show here, when that accident occurred. Ryan could have wallowed in what happened after that. He was left after that crash a complete paraplegic. He faced months, more than a year of arduous, arduous rehab. But he went through it all with a mindset focused on moving beyond the tragedy that had befallen him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the show, and on today’s episode Ryan will explain in detail how he moved beyond that crucible experience. And he will also share with you some tips and techniques to help you move beyond your crucible experiences.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Ryan, it’s so great to have you on the podcast, and love your story and your book, Born to Fly. But before we get into your crucible and some of the amazing things you’ve done in flying, tell us a bit about Ryan Campbell, how you grew up, your family. Tell us a bit about, yeah, yourself growing up in Australia.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thanks, Warwick. I explain myself as just a normal Aussie kid, any more laid back I’d be lying down. That’s my favorite overused line. I grew up not in a poor family but not in a rich family, just a standard middle-class Australian establishment. We originated on a farm property, and then we moved down to the beach when I was about six years old. And I grew up by the salty, clear, blue water and the golden beachy sands, which I now miss. But my dad was a truck driver, he was a farmer, and he was a local milk man, and my mum was a stay-at-home mum. We had a family of five, two older brothers, and a family, I suppose you could say, much larger than that also. You know, grandparents and aunties and uncles.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And just an amazing upbringing, which the older I get the more I value and appreciate. So, a really cool upbringing. I was a young kid with a whole bunch of ideas that mum and dad normally rolled their eyes at, and many of those ideas just drifted away into the atmosphere. But a few of them landed and resulted in some wild adventures, not just for myself and then my family, but for a whole bunch of people who were involved in our little escapades. So, just a normal Aussie kid is my favorite way to talk about who I am.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, where did your sense of adventure come from? Was it your mum, dad, or relatives? Because you’re somebody that just likes doing things that other people don’t normally do.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I think the problem lies within me, to be honest.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

The problem.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I have a family who love travel, and we love to kind of see the world, and a very outside of the box thinking family. But I’m definitely the first person, and still the only person who’s really ventured out on anything super left of field like I did, and continue to do. I’ve always been a very impatient kid, I always wanted more. I remember when I was a young kid, I used to unpack the dishwasher and ask for chores before school so Mum could save some money for me, pocket money and buy things. And when I wanted something, it didn’t matter what it was, a piece of technology, or an ice cream, or a new CD or whatever, I was that kid who just did not let go. Didn’t matter whether my parents knew I would never use the product when it arrived in my hands, but I’ve always been someone who is very fixated on a goal. And that I think in itself has led to the adventures that were had.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So I understand that you have wanted to fly, or been fascinated by flying at the very earliest age. What was your first memories of this passion for flying?

 

Ryan Campbell:

So the first memory has attached to it a really cool business story, to give you a little bit of an idea of my family. So my dad was a milk man, as I said, mum was a stay-at-home mum, we didn’t have a lot of money. But we worked for a company in Australia where they had an incentive program every year. Now, if we sold a certain amount of berry juice products, we would get a free ticket overseas. So, I remember at six years old, in a family that had never set foot outside of Australia, my parents bought a lot of juice. And like, I’m talking, we filled the storeroom with long-life apple juice and orange juice. And what that led to was the first overseas trip to Vanuatu, an island in the Pacific when I was six years old.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And we went on a business trip, and we swam in the pool, and they went to their little work events for a week. And it was an amazing getaway, and it was the only way my parents could afford to go overseas, because they’d then come home from the holiday and spend the next six months selling orange juice to anyone with a thirst to pay for that adventure. So it was on that first overseas trip, that was actually to be the first of four. So we were really lucky young kids to get to travel. The first of four of these incentive trips that I climbed into a Boeing 737 and we took off, and being the youngest and the cutest of the three, which I always say, they put me by the window, I got the window seat. And I sat there and watched Sydney appear in the window of that aircraft as we took off. And everything about the experience, I was just blown away by. It was just simply magic to me, the fact that everyone in Sydney has a red roof on their house, or-

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly.

 

Ryan Campbell:

… just the size of Sydney. Or honestly, the biggest moment was the fact that we went through clouds. At six years old, I just didn’t even believe you could reach the clouds, let alone do so over Sydney in an airplane. And prior to September 11th, which shows how old I am, we were invited up to the cockpit. And I walked up there with both my brothers, and I followed in trail, and we met the pilots, and we looked at the buttons and the switches. And from that point on, honestly Warwick, and you’ll laugh at this, being an Aussie. But I would always tell people three things from when I was six years old, one is that I wanted to be a jumbo jet pilot, I wanted to fly for Qantas, that was great, that was a solid dream that lasted.

 

Ryan Campbell:

The second was that I wanted to own a Subaru WRX, which was a big dream for a six-year-old. The third, for some reason I wanted to live in Canberra. I don’t know whether it was a small town kid, just kind of like saw the glistening lights and the shopping centers. But, I would not live in Canberra if paid me now, but-

 

Warwick Fairfax:

No, it’s a pretty quiet place for a capital city, there’s not much going on.

 

Ryan Campbell:

It definitely is. So, I was a six-year-old kid with three big dreams, and the one that truly lasted was this discovery of passion, and that was aviation. And it honestly has taken me, and provided the highest experiences of my life, the best, the most positive experiences. But it’s also taken me to the deepest and the darkest places, so it really has provided a rollercoaster ride in a short period of time.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, after that trip to Vanuatu, and sitting in the cockpit, and having this passion for flying, you told your mum and dad, “Okay, I want to be a pilot.” What was their reaction to this dream of this six-year-old?

 

Ryan Campbell:

Little did I know when I was six that my granddad had actually… He’d just passed away, but he had been a pilot. Not professionally, but he’d been a private pilot. Little did I know, my dad actually wanted to learn to fly, he’d always wanted to learn since he was a kid. Little did I know my uncle, who I didn’t have a lot to do with, was a commercial pilot and owned a joy flight business in Merimbula, the little town I grew up on the south coast of Australia there. And little did I know all of that, which just makes me believe that aviation’s in my blood. So my family probably didn’t take it as a shock, and as we grew older that dream, as I said, really was set in stone. It was getting to 14 years old and saying, “All right, I need a plan.

 

Ryan Campbell:

“How am I going to work through school and learn to fly?” Well, common sense at that point for a 14-year-old kid said, “You know what, you’re going to need two things. You’re going to need money, a lot of it, and you’re going to need at least a driver’s license before they’ll let you fly an airplane.” I was incorrect on one of those fronts, I definitely needed money. But I was reading the local newspaper when I was 14, and I read an article about a kid who flew solo in an airplane on his own for the very first time on the day he turned 15. That was the first day he was legally allowed. Here I am at 14, not very good at math, but I was like, “All right, I don’t have very long. If he can do it, why can’t I?” Well, that led to an after school job, and that led to a weekend job, and that led to about…

 

Ryan Campbell:

What was I earning? $50 to wash a truck, and 45 at the supermarket. So I was earning around about, I think $190 a fortnight or every two weeks, and a flying lesson for an hour was 180. So I actually funded my way through flight training throughout school, I went solo much to my mum’s stress levels, went through the roof. But I went solo on my 15th birthday just like this kid in the article, and I had discovered what I could do with a goal, and a little bit of hard work. And I’d ignited this passion, not just to fly more but to do everything I could at the youngest possible age. And the adventure just, it sped up from there.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That’s amazing. So yeah, have all the sort of unknown, maybe flying genes in there, or it’s just amazing how these things happen. But so, you had this dream of flying. When did this idea to fly around the world while you were still a teenager… At what point did that dream start to form?

 

Ryan Campbell:

So, I’d flown solo on my 15th birthday. When I turned 16, I passed a flight test that allowed me to take friends and family flying in a restricted area. I wasn’t 17 yet, so I didn’t have a driver’s license, I couldn’t drive a car on my own. So, all my buddies at school who were older than me, we cut a deal with them and we said, “All right, you drive me from school to the airport. After school I’ll take you for a fly, but you’ve got to drop me home.” So, that was my deal throughout when I was 17… When I was 16, sorry. When I was 17 I had a private pilot’s license, and when I was 18 I had a commercial. So, I really pushed for whatever I could every time I become a year older. It was at 17 that I read an article, again, I should stop reading articles.

 

Ryan Campbell:

But I read an article on a kid who was American, 23 years old, who’d broken the world record for the youngest person to fly solo round the world. And we’re talking 2008, we’re talking the prior world record being 37, so there really was no age record. And we’re talking a time where more people had gone to space than flown solo round the world, so not a very common thing to take place. Well, here I was at 17, he was 23, and again, not very good at math, knew I had six years to pull this off. And I decided I wanted to find out more, but I kept it a secret. So I did what any wannabe 17-year-old teenager would do, and I Googled how to fly solo round the world, and I found a website called Earthrounders.com. And I printed off all the information, I highlighted all the important parts, and I hid it in my desk. I didn’t want my mum, my dad, my brothers, I didn’t want anyone to find it. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was silly enough to believe this was possible.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So were you afraid that they were going to try and talk you out of it or something?

 

Ryan Campbell:

Or judge me, or laugh at me. And I have the most supportive family in the world, so it was a very irrational fear. But I thought they would potentially just laugh and go, “What is this kid on,” you know? Like, “This is wild.” But I read those articles over and over again, and there wasn’t a lot to read, given that not many people had actually done this. I got to the point where I wanted to know more, I wanted to know more than those articles. But what do you do at that point? My mum and dad couldn’t help me. So, I decided I’d contact a gentleman I’m sure you know to some degree, Dick Smith, an Australian entrepreneur, businessman, aviation adventurer, previous round the world pilot. I decided I’d contact Dick Smith, and I thought, “Well, he has the power to help me, he has the knowledge, and he has some of the answers. And, if he laughs at me and this doesn’t happen, I don’t cross paths with Dick Smith very often so I’m not going to feel judged.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And that’s sort of amazing, because Dick Smith for the US audience, he has an electronic store chain, kind of like Best Buy in a sense in the US. I mean, it’s kind of everywhere. So, he’s a very successful… You reached out to Dick Smith, he’s a busy guy, very successful, and he responded.

 

Ryan Campbell:

He did, and so-

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Which is amazing.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Everyone says, “How did you do that when you were 17?” I say, “I just Googled Dick Smith’s email address.” I hate to be telling anyone that, but I found five and I sent an email to all five. And I said, “Dear Dick Smith, my name’s Ryan Campbell, I’ve got 200 hours and I want to be the youngest person…” I read that email now and just cringe. And he responded and he said to me, “Ryan,” he said, “What you want to do is dangerous, it’s very risky, it’s hard, it’s never been done before.” And he listed all these bad elements to the adventure. But at the end he said a few simple words, and this was all that mattered. He said, “But it can be done. Go and find yourself a mentor, and if you find a mentor who tells me that you’re the guy for the job I’ll support you.”

 

Ryan Campbell:

So I took that same email that I sent to Dick, and I crossed out, “Dear Dick,” and I wrote, “Dear Ken.” And I sent it to a guy called Ken, and he was the second person to ever hear about this adventure. He’d flown around the world with another pilot, he was an Australian based in a little town called Bendigo, he agreed to be my mentor. So I went back to Dick Smith, all of a sudden I had a team of three. Everything was very exciting, until I realized I had not told or asked my mum and dad yet, at 17 years old. So we went down the road of asking mum and dad, I washed the dishes one night, which I think helped. And I said to mum and dad, “Hey, what would you think if I said that maybe, potentially, one day I might want to fly a small airplane solo round the world?”

 

Ryan Campbell:

And dad said, “Oh, you’d see some amazing things.” And mum said, “Oh, wouldn’t that just be a phenomenal experience?” And I thought, “Here they are, my parents, going, ‘Here’s another idea this kid’s got,'” you know?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Well then I sat the folder of emails down in front of them from Dick Smith, literally a name they’d grown up with.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Great.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And all of a sudden it wasn’t a joke. Well, that started the two year planning, training, fundraising adventure where I didn’t just plan and train and prepare as a pilot, but we fundraised a quarter of a million dollars on a laptop computer, the same laptop that would go round the world to write the blogs, the same laptop that we would write the book on. And we pulled together a team from literally myself to what became a massive team, and an industry who supported what was a history-making adventure. So, a really long two years, lots of fundraising, lots of lessons, lots of growing up for a young kid.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But to raise $250,000, being at age 17, is amazing. Obviously your parents might have been nervous, but they were supportive, you had a plan. I mean, not too many 17-year-olds would come up with the plan and have the courage to just write to Dick Smith, and the wisdom to seek mentors when it was suggested. I mean, you pursued a goal just all out, but with a lot of wisdom. It was sort of courage and wisdom. I mean, as you reflect back, I know there’s a lot of lessons in your life but those lessons leading up to that round-the-world flight, there are some key lessons for people in how you approached it.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Absolutely. And for me, I always say courage and commitment, courage to take it on, commitment to see it through. And I learned so many lessons the hard way, and we could talk for days about the little moments that I learned. I was a kid who couldn’t make his bed, and I was trying to contact the largest companies in the world through these very average sponsorship proposals where I’d stolen their logo, full copyright straight off the internet, and had to refine the process to find success. And we did find success from a deal with 60 Minutes, and all sorts of large media outlets around the world. And you know, what resulted not just in a successful adventure but a book deal. And it was a phenomenal transformational time for a young kid to learn and grow, even before we took off to fly around the world. I mean, that two years was I think… More of the story lies in that two years than it does in the 70 days of circumnavigating the globe.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And that was 2015, was it? When did the flight happen?

 

Ryan Campbell:

That was 2013.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

’13? Okay, got it. And so, how long did it take to fly around the world, did you say?

 

Ryan Campbell:

So I climbed into a rented, single-engine airplane, and it was a four-seat, piston-powered propeller plane. And I had 160 galleons of fuel in the cockpit with me in a big bag, and we could fly this airplane up to 16 and a half hours non-stop, and that’s what I needed to cross all these big ocean legs. And I took off at 19 years of age, after that two years of planning we flew 24,000 nautical miles to 35 stops in 15 countries. I took off from Woolongong, just south of Sydney, Australia on the east coast, and I pointed that airplane northeast purely over the Pacific Ocean, and I did not stop until I made it to North America. I had about five legs to get across the Pacific alone, the longest being Hawaii to California, 15 hours nonstop, literally sitting in one little seat. So, a very long trip in a very little airplane.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Not a lot of margin for error on that one, if you’ve flown 16 hours.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Very little margin for error, there’s some stories from that leg for sure.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So you did this remarkable journey in 2013, and that led to… I think the book you wrote, Born to Fly, was that written after that, but before-

 

Ryan Campbell:

I did, yeah. So the way that I explain the story, is when we deliver keynotes is, I tell stories not from an ego point of view. I hate nothing more than ego or manufactured drama in life, and we tell these stories to give people a little bit of an idea of how good life was at this point. So, when the around the world flight ended we were on 60 Minutes, I was invited to meet the royals, and named one of Australia’s 50 greatest explorers, and I wrote a book that my Nan can tell you every page number of every spelling mistake in that entire book, and that’s not a joke. And we shared the story, and the story spread, and life was great. We did so many wonderful things, Australia Day ambassador roles, and just had the opportunity to see a story which originated as a silly idea in a 17-year-old kid’s head spread and impact the world.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Everyone from six-year-old kids who wanted to maybe fly one day like I did originally, through to ex-World War Two spitfire pilots who were writing me letters, just absolutely blown away by the story. You know, my heroes of the world were reaching out to me. So my life was amazing, I was on the Australian speaking circuit, and I was flying for a living, and speaking just to kind of subsidize the terrible pay that we get paid as pilots. And I could not argue with where I was at in life, and then it all changed.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. So life was going so well, you were talking about courage, commitment, go for your dreams, anything’s possible, which is a great message. But then, for whatever reason the world, or fate gave you another message which you weren’t planning on, didn’t really want. So talk about that, I guess it’s 2015, that fateful day. What happened?

 

Ryan Campbell:

Well, my six-year-old self wanted to not only fly a jumbo jet, but my dream was to fly for Qantas, our Australian airline. Following a speaking gig in Canberra, believe it or not, I was offered a job with Qantas Link, our regional Qantas airline, and I turned it down. Because my dream was to fly spitfires, I wanted to fly World War Two fighters, that was my dream. And I wasn’t going to gain the experience I needed to fly those rare airplanes through flying for an airline, plus I was 20, 21. I needed to go and live a little bit more, and I turned down the job with the airline, and I took a job flying vintage airplanes to build up the experience I needed, and just to have a great, exciting living. So, my job was to fly a biplane that was built in the 1930s up and down the coast of Australia, and do some aerobatics.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And a beautiful machine, very old but beautiful. My job was to take one passenger at a time flying, and it was simple, but it was a very pleasurable job. And on the 28th of December 2015, I got up and went to work, just like any other day. No oceans to cross, no records to break, and we climbed into that airplane. I had a gentleman in the front with me, and I was sitting behind him. He was also a pilot, very, very nice gentleman. And we started the airplane, you actually have to grab the propeller and spin the propeller with your hands and start it by hand, so it’s very old technology. And we taxied to the end of the runway, we lined up on this short, grass airstrip, nice and early in the morning to take off and go look at the beach.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And I pushed the power forward, the airplane performed beautifully, and we lifted off the ground. The runway end, the fence at the end of the runway disappeared beneath the nose, and straight away at about 150 feet over the top of trees, the engine failed. And we had a partial engine failure, and within three seconds despite everything that I could do, I don’t know what I ever could have done different. We had nowhere to go, and we ended up in what was a horrific plane crash. It’s just not explainable how bad it was, and I was cut from the wreckage, placed into a helicopter and flown to hospital, but I was the only survivor.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Oh my gosh.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And I was taken to hospital in Brisbane, I was operated on immediately. I had shattered facial bones, five breaks in my back, my ankle was almost removed, my right ankle was shattered. And I was operated on immediately, and I was awake for the accident and most of the ordeal, blacked out from the pain and the impact for some minutes here and there. But overall, I remember every element of it. And I woke up in a recovery ward with no movement or feeling from my waist down, I was a complete paraplegic.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, obviously a lot’s going through your mind. I mean, you’re an experienced pilot even at that age. You’re thinking… Well, obviously I’m not a pilot, but if you’re 100 feet up, the engine fails, you’ve got no time to think of anything or do anything, and even if you could it sounds like there’s nothing you could do. So was that like… Well, it certainly wasn’t pilot error, “There’s nothing I could have done.”

 

Ryan Campbell:

The hardest part of this entire, especially with the outcome of the accident, the hardest part of this entire journey for me has been coming to mental grips with the outcome, what happened, why it happened, what could have been done, what was done, and analyzing those number of seconds. And I know in my heart of hearts that we made the best decisions on the day in that moment, flying what we were flying. It was just, if that engine had failed 10 seconds earlier or 20 seconds later, we would have been okay. But the devil himself pressed the button at that moment for me, and I don’t know. Put me in a simulator and give me that 100 times again, I don’t know what I could have done differently with all the elements that come into play when we consider an engine failure on takeoff, especially in 1930s technology.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And do I regret being in the airplane that day? No. Do I regret getting out of bed, and not sleeping in? No. Do I regret not having a flat tire and canceling that flight? No, I don’t. We made the best decisions to be there that day, and I don’t know what I could have done different. And that’s my only way that I can come to grips with being the one who made it out, as opposed to the one who didn’t.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, obviously you go through that, people talk about survivor guilt and all that, why was that me, and that’s probably one thing. Not that it’s fair, but we’re human. I mean, logically you knew there’s nothing you could have done. Yes, it’s like, “Well, I could have given the engine another once over.” I mean, even if you’d done that probably it wouldn’t have been that obvious without, I don’t know what… Pulling every part of the engine apart. Even then, you probably couldn’t have found anything, but-

 

Ryan Campbell:

And it was. They pulled it all apart, and we don’t know, you know? And it could be anything from a mud wasp to a little bit of water, we just don’t have the answers.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So logically, there’s nothing you could have done. But because we’re emotional beings, did it take a while for you to accept the fact there was nothing you could do? Like your brain said, “I did everything I could.” But emotionally, were you kind of beating yourself up a bit, or…

 

Ryan Campbell:

I will always have that element in my life, I always will. That doesn’t go away with time, it gets easier with time. I do not blame myself, and if I did I wouldn’t be here, I couldn’t live with that. I, however, live with the struggle and the triggers that will always come from that PTSD, whatever you want to call it, I will have that forever, and that’s been hard.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And you have to go through that to fully understand that kind of trauma. So, people who have gone through those sorts of experiences probably could understand better. But how did you get beyond that? Because intellectually, it sounds like you came to terms with that pretty quickly, because you’re a pilot, you get it, you understood there was no room for error, it was bad luck. As you said, like 10 seconds earlier, 20 second later, I mean it would have been radically different. But how did you find a way to bounce back from that experience and live a positive life, rather than… The alternative is just to say, “Well, that adventurous, free-spirited Ryan Campbell is no more. I’m just going to be safe, cautious, just…” You know, not do much anymore.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I’m going to jump in before you answer that question Ryan, because you told me something when we talked before we started recording the show, that I think is a universal truth for anyone who’s gone through a crucible. Our listeners know well, you probably know well Ryan being from Australia, the crucible that Warwick went through, the takeover of the family media business, that failed takeover, the slipping of the company after 150 years out of the family’s hands, a $2.25 billion loss. Not at all the same thing as the physical trauma that you went through, but emotionally speaking, what could I have done differently, what can I learn, how do I bounce back, those experiences are universal with crucibles. And what you told me when we talked that speaks to Warwick’s question about how you got through it, you said this to me.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

“We find the tools in our low points to power better times.” And I just wanted to kind of get that out there, that perspective out there, because I think our listeners will definitely identify with that as you answer the question, how did you do it?

 

Ryan Campbell:

100%. And I am really big on this idea of tools and building a mindset toolbox, I’m really big on adversity being an opportunity. You know, adversity alone is adversity, but adversity with the right tools to utilize it is opportunity, it’s simple as that. At 21 years old I was lying in that hospital bed, going through what you’re talking about, Warwick. This constant reflection of what happened, trying to get my memory back, trying to pull all the pieces together, trying to work with the right teams of people around me to say, “Okay, what happened,” and get answers. I know it’s a really long process that, honestly, it’s not as prevalent in my day-to-day life now, almost five years on. But I tell you what, it lasted many years.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And it’s been very hard, and there are times where it comes back up again. When we look at that time in hospital, it was so hard in the beginning just to exist. For me, I would always tell people that I was at maximum capacity. You could have walked in and told me that I’d lost a family member, or you could have chopped off my leg, or from a pain and a mental point of view, physical and mental, I was at capacity. You couldn’t have done anything more to me to make it any worse. But we started to crawl out of that hole with a real sink or swim mentality, and I remember sitting next to an Australian… I have many people, from Alan Jones, and all these incredible Australians that the US audience might not be too familiar with. But trust me when I say, incredible, incredible humans spending a lot of time with me at hospital. I remember sitting across from Paul de Gelder, an Australian navy clearance diver who lost his arm and leg in a shark attack in Sydney Harbor. And he looked at me-

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Oh my gosh.

 

Ryan Campbell:

… and he said, “Sink or swim.” Now, I’d spent an hour and a half with an ex-Australian Wallabies coach, I had been to every psychologist known to man and ended up telling them how they felt, you know? I can’t tell you how much help I had. But those three words changed everything for me, because when I looked at Paul I knew that at one point in his life he had to actually swim, and he chose to swim. And if we look at this crossroad we come to when we experience adversity or change, challenge, or crisis in our life, we have to make a choice, it’s up to us. A lot of tough love is needed, a lot of harden up is needed. We have to sit back, we have to make our own decision to sink or swim. Sinking is a very long and slippery slope to suicide, and I am really blunt about that because I’m really big on young people losing their mental battle.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Swimming is the journey that we take to climb back up, to climb the mountain that’s ahead of us, to get out of where we are, to end up in a better place physically and mentally. And if it’s just one step at a time, that’s okay. When I was in hospital I was battling the mental aspect of the accident, what happened, why, what could have been done differently? I was battling my physical state, I had no movement from my waist down, no feeling, my bodily functions had disappeared, I had no… I was a newborn baby in a hospital, my dignity was left at the door when they wheeled me in, and I spent the next six months in that spinal rehabilitation ward determined to not walk, but fly. And walking was merely a stepping stone on the way back to flying, and that was the end of the conversation for me.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I was naïve, and I thought, honestly, for that first 12 months that I was just going to get better. I mean, how naïve can you be? I flew around the world, I was like, “I’m going to be fine.” And whilst I saw progress, and I released a video on this yesterday, and I talked about progress being the antidote to stress-induced… Or to change-induced stress, and how progress, even just a little bit of progress every day towards our end goal provides purpose to the pain. So for that first 12 months, especially that first six months in hospital, I went from a complete paraplegic with no movement or feeling from the waist down, a wheelchair that was custom-built for my body, to a human who was walking, albeit I look like I’d just sunk a bottle of Tennessee whiskey, but walking.

 

Ryan Campbell:

And that was a very long journey of pain, but with a lot of progress. I would see a twitch of a muscle, a little bit of sensation come back on some area of my lower body, all of these things were happening every day. When I got to that 12 month point where my recovery started to plateau, that lack of repair, that reduced rate of repair became one of the biggest challenges of my life. Because now it wasn’t about, “Okay, just keep doing what you’re doing, you are going to be okay.” It was like, “Okay, this is it. This is where I’m going to get to, this is my new normal. We’re going to have to start to get used to it, learn how to maintain it, and now I’m going to have to begin to adapt in my day-to-day routines to make sure that I can do as much of what I did in my previous life with these new injuries.”

 

Ryan Campbell:

And I still have a whole bunch of things wrong with me, like a long list of things wrong with me. No calf muscles, no glute muscles, I have no feeling where I sit, no feeling on the backs of my legs, no feeling in my feet, very little control in my feet, no ability to push. I walk around on my heels all day, every day. No bladder control, no internal bodily functions whatsoever. But I walk, and I just look like I’ve had a bad night on the town. But that journey as a whole, we talk about… I mean, I speak purely on how did you get back up, how did you swim, what were all the elements of that? It all boiled down to building a toolbox. My overwhelmed state in the beginning of my time in hospital, parents, brothers, cousins, doctors, Alan Jones, incredible humans, shark attack survivors, they were all giving me advice, advice on how to climb the mountain ahead of me.

 

Ryan Campbell:

But it was too much, I had to take that crazy amount of advice, I had to take my overwhelmed state of mind, and I had to somehow turn it into clarity, and that’s where the mindset toolbox was born. My simple way, born in hospital, to take the moments I was experiencing, moments that were easily forgettable, to turn those moments into tools, tools that I could use to navigate change, challenge, crisis, and adversity, and place them in my mindset toolbox, basically an unforgettable drawer that I have access to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the tools that I was going to use to climb the mountain.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Wow. I mean, that’s just an amazing journey, amazing story. Just for listeners, Alan Jones, former coach of the Wallabies, that’s Australia’s national rugby team, kind of a big deal certainly in Sydney and in Queensland, where rugby’s pretty prevalent. But you mentioned early on that a former diver said, “Sink or swim.” And it feels like that was a binary choice, it wasn’t just plateau, or lead a quiet life. It was, sink might have been depression, suicide, I mean who knows what sink would have been? I mean, it’s scary to even contemplate. So it’s like, either swim or improve, or the alternative is very dark and almost unthinkable. I mean, I think a lot of listeners wouldn’t think about it that way, that sink or swim. You either rise, or you fall into oblivion. I mean, it was that clear back then in the depths?

 

Ryan Campbell:

It was, yeah. And I think it has to be that clear, and when I first started the two year process of planning the round-the-world flight I had a team of five people, no-one else knew about it, not even my extended family. I had a flying instructor who sat down with me, the very man who taught me to fly, Big Al, and he said to me, “Are you going to do this or not?” And I said, “I don’t know. One day I think I should, the next day I don’t know whether I should, and I just don’t know.” And he said, “Look, zoom out and have a look at the big picture, where you are in life, what you’re trying to achieve, and how bad you want to do it. And then we’re going to make a yes or no decision on whether you even attempt this round-the-world flight.

 

Ryan Campbell:

“If you make a yes decision, you are going to work unbelievably hard every single day, until you get to the point where it is either A, a success, or B, an absolute failure that you just can’t bring back. Or, you’re going to say no, walk away and never look at it again.” That yes or no decision is binary, as is the sink or swim decision, and I think we have to be clear in order to move forward and combat the mental… Life is won and lost above the shoulders, that’s my deal, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Right.

 

Ryan Campbell:

We have to be binary, otherwise we just get buried.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, almost what I’m hearing you say is that two-year preparation for the round-the-world flight, are we going to do it, are we going to not, it almost in some sense prepared you for that next round-the-world journey in a sense, that next epic but tragic adventure which was getting back from that horrific accident. You look back and say, “That kind of helped prepare me in some strange way?”

 

Ryan Campbell:

Without a doubt, 100%, but… Yes, 100%. What I also say is that at 21 I was lying in a hospital bed, and I had experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. So, highs higher than most people would ever experience, but lows lower than most people would ever experience. And it took a while for me to see it this way, but I started to view it as an opportunity. I’d been given an opportunity to compare, we have mountain climbers, as keynote speakers we have people out there who have done incredible things. We have people out there who have suffered adversity kind of stories, we have those people as well. We don’t have a lot of people who’ve experienced both, especially by that age. So what I was given was an opportunity to compare the highs and the lows and ask myself, where do we truly learn, where do we grow, what makes me me?

 

Ryan Campbell:

And it was 150% yes I did pull things from the round-the-world flight, yes it prepared me for what was to come. But I’d truly become Ryan, the person I am today, through the adversity and the hard times in my life, for sure.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And that’s an amazing thought of, nobody wants adversity but there are some lessons, who we are after a crucible is never the same as who we were before. So, I want to hear about the toolbox that you’ve created. But yeah, talk a bit more about how there’s some… It’s going to sound very strange, but I’d almost say there’s beauty in adversity. But there’s certainly a lot of lessons in adversity that can, I don’t know, maybe make us a better version, a more refined version of ourselves? I mean, what’s your experience with that?

 

Ryan Campbell:

I remember feeling so unbelievably sorry for myself, which is what we all do as a reaction to negative change, or adversity, or crisis. And I was feeling down, and I was in hospital with a whole bunch of reasons that probably allowed me to feel a little down at this point. And I remember that every day they would hoist me off the bed in hospital, so they’d put a sling under me, it was a very non-flattering kind of experience. And they’d lift me off the bed, and they’d let me hang above that mattress until my body hurt so much that they’d just put me back down and let me rest. Every day I could hang for a little bit longer, and then they originally put me out of that bed into a wheelchair, and they took me to the rehabilitation gym.

 

Ryan Campbell:

That first trip to the rehabilitation gym changed my life. The gym was a place where quadriplegics and paraplegics were doing all they could to bring their bodies back to life, and obtain what I call our maximum potential, which is a really important word in what I speak about now. So I was taken to this rehabilitation gym, and I was placed down on a low-lying mat, slung onto this mat. They told me my first challenge for the day was learning to roll over. Now, it was a whole lot harder the second time than it was the first time. But I remember loving a challenge, and thinking, “All right, how can I go from my back to my stomach?” Nothing worked from the waist down, but I can do this. Well, I concocted a plan in my head and I thought, “If I could just lift one of my chunky legs up and lie it over the other leg, and I could then lean over and grab the side of this bed, and pull with my arms.

 

Ryan Campbell:

“I’m going to kind of untwist, and I’ll be not only lying on my stomach but I’ll be victorious in this first challenge.” And I remember doing that, twisting my legs, and then grabbing the side of that bed and pulling. And as I pulled the fire breaks in my back, and all the new titanium metalwork that I had just screamed in pain. So I stopped on my side, and my right arm was twisted all kind of trying to balance. I stopped just to let the pain subside, and I remember looking through a hole created by my elbow, and what I saw through that hole at a point where I was really down in life changed everything. What I saw was a guy called Ben, he was a young guy in his early 30s, sitting in a really big wheelchair.

 

Ryan Campbell:

He’d slipped over, hit his head whilst mopping his girlfriend’s floor, he’d broken his neck, had no movement or feeling from his chest down, and very little feeling in his arms or his hands, he was a quadriplegic. And I remember looking up at Ben and seeing Ben stare back at me. I was feeling sorry for myself at this point, really, really bad place in life. The way Ben looked at me, I realized what he would have given for one chance at learning to roll over. And at that point, to say that I felt like the worst human on the face of the planet would be an absolute understatement. And I remember being put back into the wheelchair, and taken back to my ward, and put back in bed. And I remember my body resting, and my mind moving at a million miles an hour.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I knew at that point that I needed to remember the way that I felt when I looked at Ben, because it was that feeling, whatever it was, and I couldn’t explain it at the time. It was that feeling that was going to allow me to get through the hard days, and there were plenty of hard days on the horizon. So I decided to come up with a concept, which is a mindset toolbox, to take those moments and place them somewhere where I won’t forget them. So my concept is so simple, very, very simple, it’s that we’re all born with an empty toolbox. It’s really big, it has wheels, lots of drawers, we take it with us wherever we go in life. When we get it in the beginning, when we’re born it’s empty. Our job in life is to fill that toolbox with tools that we can use to work through the challenges that we will all no doubt face.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Adversity is simply a byproduct of breathing. So we fill that toolbox with tools, tools that we can use to navigate change, challenge, crisis and adversity. It is our goal to learn how to find tools, how to use them, and how to keep them sharp. Throughout that six months in hospital, the year and a half in rehab, the four and a half years up until this interview, I continue to find tools every day and place them in that toolbox, and I have a really big, overflowing toolbox. And it’s my way to not forget the moments that I need to navigate my life, it’s my way to provide a tangible kind of learning experience in developing your mindset. And that’s what this is, life is won and lost above the shoulders, we have to go out and better ourselves, we have to go out and learn.

 

Ryan Campbell:

We have all the information in the world at our fingertips, we have to understand that we have to build resiliency, ways of thinking into our day-to-day life as an individual or an organization, so that we can tackle our crucible moments, our tough days, our tough years, our 2020s. We have to be wired that way. My mindset toolbox not only saved me, but it’s now how I encourage others to think of their own mental health and resilience.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I want to hear a little bit about this mindset toolbox, but I want to go back for one second. Here you are trying to roll over, which for most of us is a pretty easy thing to do. It’s like, you just roll over. But for you at that point it was you might have said “climb Mt. Everest”, I mean it was pretty difficult. But then as you were going over, and bad things were happening, and you looked at Ben, what was it about Ben’s look that almost was not a mini-crucible, but an inflection point in your recovery? There was something about Ben’s look that kind of bore a hole through your soul, almost.

 

Ryan Campbell:

He was just a big boy sitting in that wheelchair, and he had elastic bands around his wrist, and he was moving his wrist in and out maybe an inch or two at a time, and that was his exercise for the day. And knowing a quadriplegic quite well by that point, just being in a spinal cord injury ward, and learning about a spinal cord injury, and what it does to your body, I knew what state Ben was in, and I knew the very slim chance of him ever getting back to a point where I even was at that point at the beginning of my recovery. It was just the loss in his eyes, and we went on to talk a lot throughout the next six months in rehab, and learn more about each other, and the struggles that we were both going through. And when I unpacked that moment with Ben into that mindset toolbox, at the surface level I obviously learned perspective.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I was like, “Oh, you know, look, I’m actually quite lucky, you know, really,” at the surface level. But by unpacking that story into my mindset toolbox, that was a process that allowed me to pull so much more out of that moment than what I found at first glance. And that’s the power of the toolbox, I learned so many things from gratitude, through to accepting what I had, and my ability as opposed to focusing on what I’d lost, all of these different lessons from Ben, they all boiled down to one thing, I was lucky to be a paraplegic. I was 21 years old, I’d just survived a plane crash, I’d just turned turned 21. I’d been in hospital for not an entirely long amount of time, and I could look at you and tell you that I was lucky to be a paraplegic.

 

Ryan Campbell:

I could look at you and tell you that this challenge was not physical, it was mental. Without Ben’s injection of gratitude that day, without the concept of the mindset toolbox, I would not, and I just would not be where I am today, I just wouldn’t.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That’s amazing, and that’s really one of the key elements of your toolbox. Gratitude, confidence, resiliency, obviously you can connect the dots now in hindsight, a sense of gratitude that, “I’m glad I’m not where Ben is,” you know?

 

Ryan Campbell:

Yeah, 100%.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Ben would give, as you said, anything he could to be where Ryan was, you know? So, talk about how you use this toolbox to inspire others, both others who’ve been through physical challenges… There could be mental, physical, financial, abuse, I mean there’s all sorts of challenges in the world. So, talk about how this can help not just crash survivors or paraplegics, but just people in general. What about this toolbox can really help people?

 

Ryan Campbell:

I encourage anyone who has a pulse to build their own mindset toolbox, because it doesn’t matter where we live, the color of your skin, your background, religion, beliefs, geographic location, it just doesn’t matter. If you are breathing right now, you will have experienced adversity in your life and you will experience it more again, by product of breathing. So, adversity’s a common thread amongst every human on the planet. I encourage everyone to pull together their own mindset toolbox, to take the moments in their life and convert them to tools, to build resiliency and confidence in their ability to overcome. I did find, however, as I filled this mindset toolbox that even in a time of crisis, a really rough moment, even with a full toolbox it’s hard to reach back into that toolbox and pull out exactly the right tool you need to overcome that challenge.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Whether it’s an engine failure in that split second moment, whether you’ve just been furloughed, whether you’ve just found out that someone’s been lost within your family, or any form of adversity big or small, we are so overwhelmed when it first strikes. I wanted to create a checklist that we could run through very quickly and very simply whenever that moment strikes. Now, I use my three favorite tools and most used tools out of my mindset toolbox to create that checklist. People often ask why a checklist, why did you do that? Well, as a pilot, when something goes wrong in an airplane, when a red light flashes or a warning buzzer sounds, we don’t just start pressing random buttons and pulling random levers, despite what Hollywood may tell you. We use a checklist, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Right.

 

Ryan Campbell:

We go through a checklist of pre-determined potential problems, we work through the checklist items, and we hopefully end at what is a solution for the problem. So I created a checklist not for aviation but for life, a simple three-step checklist that will not solve all your problems. If I knew the checklist to solve all of the problems in the world I wouldn’t be talking to you, I’d be on my yacht in the Caribbean drinking some form of alcohol. But this is a checklist that places you in a more change- and challenge-ready mindset, it is so simple. It’s gratitude, confidence and resilience, and we can either go through that or we don’t have to with timing. But that three-step checklist is a very quick, easy way to implement my tool.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I’m just curious at least in summary, who those three, right? Because there’s a-

 

Ryan Campbell:

They were my three favorite tools Warwick, it is as simple as that, you know? Everything I’d been through, everything I had… When I built that mindset toolbox I didn’t just fill it from that day on, I went back to the round-the-world flight, and I unpacked stories, stories that we share in keynotes around America and around the world. We took stories that I had put in my past folder, we pulled them out and we unpacked them. And I learned more and more from the experiences I’d already been through, so these three tools in this checklist are simply my most-used, most transformational tools that have changed my life. And not only do I want other people to potentially implement my three-step checklist, but I want you to understand the power of a checklist culture, and start to create your own.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Grab your own mindset toolbox, go through the same process, fill it. Look at your top tools that you use every day, look at the challenges you face, start to put together little checklists that you can implement when times are tough, because this year’s a tough year and we all need the mental resiliency to kind of bounce back.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And I find that fascinating, because you’re saying by all means use gratitude, confidence, resilience. But you’re saying, make sure that it works if you develop your own, which is sort of a different approach. You could say, “This is three-steps, guarantee it’ll work for everybody.” But you’re saying, “It might work for a bunch, but here’s what I’ve done just so that you can get an idea what it looks like, but create your own.” That’s a different approach, that almost feels empowering to people rather than saying, “You’ve got to use this or else.” You see, you have more of an open spirit.

 

Ryan Campbell:

No, we don’t want the cookie cutter approach, it just doesn’t work in life, it just doesn’t, you know?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Right.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Like we’re not the same, we’re all different. I remember having a lady say to me after a keynote, “Oh, the checklist won’t work.” She said, “Lists don’t work for me.” She said, “I write a list, I never get through that list,” and I know a lot of people like that. And my pilot brain thinks, “Why?” Like, “This is the best thing in the world.” But this didn’t work for this lady, so I told her… We worked together and I said, “Let’s take one step back. A checklist is a systematic approach, an implementable way that we can just apply whatever it is over and over again. Let’s create your systematic approach, so what do you enjoy?” It could be a walk on the beach. Every time you struggle or you have a rough day, take your shoes off, get your feet in the sand, and go for a stroll, watch the sun set.

 

Ryan Campbell:

It could be anything, it could be the gym, it could be… It doesn’t matter, we have to find our own little solutions to those moments of struggle and change. Every time we go through crucibles, or every time we go through adversity or have a rough day, we’ve got to have tools in that toolbox that we can apply.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So-

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That is a… I’m sorry Warwick, go ahead. I’m sorry.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I was going to say, as we kind of wrap up, one of the maybe last questions I have is, how does life look for Ryan Campbell now, these several years later? You’ve been through a lot, you’re doing a lot of amazing things. How would you describe to people, what’s Ryan Campbell’s life like now?

 

Ryan Campbell:

Ryan Campbell lives conveniently close to the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee, that’s where it… No, a lot of people wonder how my life went after the accident. I went back to walking, and as I said I do walk very… I’ve got a lot of things still wrong with me. I found my way back into the air, flying airplanes with modified brake systems. But then I went… As an incomplete paraplegic, I learnt to fly a helicopter from scratch, and now have a commercial helicopter license. My goal was to fly helicopters full-time, I was flying a helicopter one day, I had a rock in my shoe, I can’t feel my feet, and that rock ate into my foot. So I ended up back in hospital, back in my wheelchair for two months.

 

Ryan Campbell:

That was my moment where I went, “Okay, we have to do more with these stories, we have to go out and help others who have been through similar things to me.” I sold everything except a little airplane that got me back into the sky named Doug, and Doug and I moved to Tennessee. And I now live in the US as a professional keynote speaker, working with organizations from school groups to Fortune 500s, and delivering sessions from eight minutes to 90 minutes on navigating change, overcoming adversity and using our challenges in life to build a better future. And it is my passion, it’s my drive, and I just find it unbelievably rewarding. So it’s a pleasure to help others learn, and it’s a pleasure to learn along with them.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That is an excellent segue to our… And I always say this, as Warwick pointed out before we started recording, I always say this on every show, it’s time to land the plane. But this really makes sense talking to you Ryan, we’ve come to the point in the show where it’s time to land the plane. But one thing I’d be remiss if I did not, based on what you just said for sure, and everything that we’ve talked about, if I didn’t give you the chance to let people know how to find you and how to find your services online and elsewhere.

 

Ryan Campbell:

Absolutely. So, we would love to help anyone and everyone, and 2020’s rough, and we do a multi-camera virtual keynote. We’ve delivered this week to all sorts of large companies. You can find our details on all social medias @Ryancampbellspeaking, or you can find me and contact our team directly at ryancampbell.co. It’s not .com, I cannot afford the M yet, www.ryancampbell.co. So reach out to us, we’d love to chat, we’d love to help.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Before I close, we have with every guest that we have on the show, we have a little form that we ask people to fill out. And sometimes the answers are really interesting, and sometimes they’re less interesting. And you gave an answer, I’ve got to know what the answer to this question that you asked. We have on our form, is that if there’s only one question we could ask you, what would you want it to be? And this is what you said we should ask you, so I’m going to ask you this and see what the answer is. You said we should ask you, “What is the most unique purchase you’ve ever made?”

 

Ryan Campbell:

Gary, when I moved to America I got in the car, and I drove to Graceland in Memphis, to Elvis’ place. I went into the gift shop, and I bought a model pink Cadillac. It was always my dream to own a pink Cadillac, and I spent about $30, and I bought this small model pink Cadillac that sits by my television. Four months later, the opportunity arose to buy a real pink Cadillac.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Wow.

 

Ryan Campbell:

So, I now own a two and a half ton, 1960 pink Cadillac with white leather interior that we drive to Kroger, we drive it to the movie theater, we take it everywhere. I’ve never seen a machine in my life that brings so many smiles as what Flow, our pink Cadillac does. It led to a whole segment that we do called, “What’s your pink Cadillac, what’s the one thing you buy that’s absolutely ridiculous?” It just makes you feel like a kid, and absolutely illogical. But my favorite ridiculous purchase in my life has been a genuine Elvis 1960 pink Cadillac.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Wow, that beats mine. Mine is a seven foot tall Superman action figure in my office, so…

 

Ryan Campbell:

That is insane.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Thank you for being with us, and as we do when we end listener, there’s much great content here. But three things, sort of takeaways that you can take with you as you go from our conversation with Ryan. One, and he started talking about that from the outset when he was six years old, and that is pay attention to your passions at a young age. Not everyone who dreams of being a firefighter or a nurse as a child ends up doing so, but they can. Ryan’s story is a testament to the truth that the passion of your childhood can be the vision of your adulthood. If you love it you can learn it and you can live it at any age, like Ryan did. A great help to making that happen is to find support and to seek mentors, and then go for it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

A second takeaway I think is that we find the tools in our low points to power better times, that’s something Ryan said in a conversation we had before this episode. Crucibles are painful, emotionally, financially, sometimes like Ryan physically. And there comes a time, as a friend of Ryan’s told him after his plane crash, that we have to decide to sink or swim. So start swimming one stroke at a time, you will get to a better destination than sinking. And the third point that we’ve spent a really good dialogue here at the end talking about, is build a toolbox to help you as you go through your crucible, and fill it with the thoughts and practices that will help you navigate the steps you need to take to move beyond that crucible.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Focus on filling that toolbox with items that build your gratitude, your confidence and your resilience. Ryan says that life is won and lost above the shoulders. We would only add from Crucible Leadership to that by saying that crucibles are overcome, and a life of significance is launched above the shoulders. So until next time we’re together listeners, thank you for spending time with us in this episode of Beyond the Crucible. And please remember, as Ryan’s beautiful story makes very clear, that your crucible experiences can be painful in a lot of ways, emotionally, financially, to your dreams, to your body, they can be very painful. But they are not the end of your story, Ryan’s crucible was not the end of his story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Your crucibles can in fact be the beginning of a new chapter in your story, as they have been for Ryan. And that chapter can be, as it has been for Ryan, the best chapter of all. Because what it leads to, the path it puts you on, is towards a life of significance.