How to be resilient with Mal Winnie #13


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Is Resilience something you are born with?



Mal Winnie knows a thing or two about resilience.

He would best be described as an Adventreprenuer, in that he combines his love of the outdoor adventure with his passion for business and professional development.

Mal has spent half his adult adventuring around the world both professionally and personally. He has rock-climbed, canyoneered, mountaineered, kayaked and hiked through NZ, Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA and continues to do so. He has been in some of the most remote and wilderness environments in the world and it is in these places that he says he has learnt the most about himself.

Resilience can be tested.

Mal’s resilience has been tested a number of times as he has overcome some considerable physical and mental setbacks along the way and has used these to further inspire him and to work on and develop his own levels of resiliency including breaking his back twice and his neck once. In total he has broken his spine in 5 different places.

Mal is also the founder and managing director of Stand-Out Leadership Ltd, a leadership development business that works with individuals and organisations across NZ and Australia to help grow their leadership capability and employee engagement levels. He also works one on one as a leadership and transformational coach.

Mal is highly regarded by his clients as being insightful, inspiring and practical in his approach and style.

He has undertaken tertiary and non-tertiary based studies in multiple areas such as Psychology, Sport and Recreation, Positive Psychology, Neuro-Science, NLP and Coaching and includes these aspects of science and research in the development of practical applications people can use to enhance their lives and careers. He is an mBIT Coach and Trainer as well as an NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer.

Mal has worked in people development and teaching resilience for 23 years now in many different industries and sectors and has worked across New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom with in excess of 20,000 people.

For more visit


01:27 Introduction
03:43 Adventurepreneur
11:30 Past injuries
17:45 Feeling angry
24:31 A powerful experience
35:45 Neuroplasticity
44:16 Pushing the limits
52:38 Resilience


Intro 0:04
You’re listening to The mBraining Show, a show about the new field of mBIT, where you’ll get a blend of neuroscience based research with practical applications for wise living. And now, here’s your host, Bill Gasiamis.

Bill 0:19
know the reason the mBIT coaching model is so unique is because in mBIT we coach not only to the client’s head brain, but also to their heart and gut brain. It’s not just the brain and community that calls the Heart and gut brains.

Bill 0:34
Many doctors and researchers around the world are doing the same. Recently research in the field of neuro cardiology, and euro gastroenterology have shown that the heart is not just a pump pushing blood around our body, it has up to 120,000 neurons, which is the same amount as a lobster’s brain. And the guide is not just some stinky plumbing, removing all that we do not need.

Bill 0:58
It has approximately 500 million neurons and that’s the same amount as a cat’s brain. In the past, you will have noticed how you and many of your friends say things like follow your heart, or listen to your gut. And that’s because there is a level of intelligence there that ancient wisdom traditions have been talking about for two and a half 1000 years now.

Bill 1:20
And which is now being validated by modern science. So when you engage an mBIT coach, you are getting someone that is skilled in helping you unlock the wisdom in those intelligences and discover what your heart desires, and what you truly value.

Bill 1:38
The action you need to take and how to listen to your gut to take gutsy action, as well as engage the creativity in your head to come up with unique ways to achieve the heart’s desires. If you want to know more about me coaching, get in touch, we can meet in person or via Skype, go to and fill out the contact form and I will be in touch. I look forward to meeting you.


Bill 2:07
Good day everybody and welcome to another episode of The mBraining Show. Today I have Mal Winnie, who would be best described as an adventurepreneur who has spent half of his adult life adventuring around the world both professionally and personally.

Bill 2:26
He has rock climbing Kenya near mountain near kayak and hiked through New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA, and continues to do so now has overcome some considerable physical and mental setbacks along the way, and has used these to further inspire him and to work on and develop his own levels of resiliency.

Bill 2:50
Mal is the Founder and Managing Director of standout leadership limited a leadership development business that works with individuals and organizations around New Zealand and Australia to help grow their leadership capabilities and employee engagement levels. Mal has worked in people development for 23 years now in many different industries and sectors and has worked across New Zealand, Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, with in excess of 20,000 people. Welcome Mal.

Mal 3:26
Hey Bill thanks very much mate. Great to be here.

Bill 3:28
You’re welcome, mate. 20,000 people do you know their names?

Mal 3:35
Yeah, I wish I do we’d be here for quite a while I suspect longer than an hour to name them on alphabetical order, which I probably couldn’t.


Bill 3:45
The intro there is a pretty cool sounding intro with regards to just the fact that you’ve been to a number of different parts of the planet and had that opportunity to experience that. What was it that drove you to see that much of our planet? Because I know a lot of people talk about doing it. But not many people actually make it happen.

Mal 4:11
Yeah, look, I think there was a couple of things really for me, though, one was I was very fortunate and that I had a career that allowed me to do that. So for probably 12, nearly 14 years, I professionally guided in the outdoors. Instead, it was a career in a job that really took me to different places on the planet into I guess I could say I was fortunate to some of the most remote, some of the most kind of wilderness environments.

Mal 4:39
So I actually got paid to kind of do that stuff, which was pretty lucky. And I think I’ve always had a sense of adventure, a sense of wanting to get out there and see things and experience things and not sit back. So I guess both of those combined have contributed to allowing me to see parts of the world However, there’s still a lot I haven’t seen and and haven’t done. And I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there who have done significantly more than model I happen to solve it. So a lot more to come.

Bill 5:14
Yeah. Sounds like it mate from an adventurepreneur. Is that how it? Is that how you coined the term by traveling and working at the same time, and then using that opportunity to see things that some people because of their work, don’t have an opportunity to see?

Mal 5:31
Yeah, that’s exactly it really, I just kind of combine the two words of adventure an entrepreneur and, and came up with the fright, I guess, the term adventurepreneur, which really, for me, I said, I’ve been fortunate, again, to have been able to combine business with pleasure in that sense, and been able to travel the world for work.

Mal 5:51
And also been able to do that personally and go on many personal adventures. And, you know, I know that we’re going to be talking about resilience today, and, or have to say, with hand on my heart, you know, become a far more resilient, a far more fulfilled, far happier human being. And because of those experiences in my life, without a doubt.

Bill 6:17
So Mel, we are going to talk about resilience, because I’m really interested in resilience, especially since going through some of my own challenges. And what I’m interested to hear about is the different versions of resilience, because I have my version, you have your version, but they all come together to give people a bit of information about what what how resilience is created. It’s not something that you wake up, and it’s not a skill that you have overnight, I would imagine. Would you agree with that? Is that something that perhaps you weren’t earlier on in life resilient?

Mal 6:52
Yeah. Without a doubt, I think you’re absolutely right, that resiliency is something that we develop as human beings, I think we all have the ability to be adaptable to situations and, you know, science and research will clearly show now that there’s two things that really cause that and and contribute to that.

Mal 7:12
One is that there is an element of predisposition in terms of your makeup genetically. And the other one is really clearly your mindset. And it’s the part that we have significant control over. I think I was always resilient. Growing up. You know, I grew up in a large family, I grew up with two older brothers and two older sisters that used to tease the heck out of me and bully me and do all those things for their own pleasure, which, so I guess to be fair, I had to learn to look after myself, and I had to learn to be able to bounce back from situations.

Mal 7:47
Early on, I also grew up playing sports and play fairly competitive sport. And again, in order to be competitive, and to maintain it, you do need to learn that at a reasonably early age. However, without a doubt, through my experiences and life, through what I’ve gone through, both personally and professionally, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve strengthened that considerably over the years.

Bill 8:14
So before we go into some of the things that needed to test your resilience to test your resilience. Yeah, tell me how do you strengthen resilience, identify needed? And by the way? Ya know, we’ll get into that. But yeah, we could, you could have done with that. At least five of those things. But anyhow, we’ll get into that just to build the tension and the drama here.

Mal 8:39
Look, there’s a number of ways that you can develop your resiliency. And, you know, I go to the work that grants done, which is just such a profound piece of work around in braining, and the work and positive psychology that’s been done. And, you know, there’s over 1000, peer reviewed scientific papers now, out there around the four kinds of resiliency and what you can do on a day to day, week to week basis to further develop those.

Mal 9:08
And there’s simple things you know, like, really around how to develop your mental resiliency, your ability to bounce back from setbacks, your physical resilience, your emotional resilience, and also your social resilience. So there’s a number of ways that we can, can contribute to developing those elements See, in the key in the really good thing is that it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time. It’s small things that we can do every day really.

Bill 9:38
Awesome. So that’s really good that it doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s just a little bit of effort, and it’s looking at things in a slightly different way. I found that I helped my resilience sort of levels increased by seeking out coaches, young psychologists, anybody that would listen and encouraged me in a non judgmental kind of way and asked me about what my map of the world was.

Bill 10:04
And if it was a little bit skewed, you know, to the wrong direction, you know, gently guide me with, you know, beautiful compassionate words towards a place where I was able to be more more benefited. Oh, my God, is that a word more benefited from from my thought process or from the actions that I was taking so that my, you know, recovery or the need to overcome something would serve me rather than not?

Mal 10:35
Absolutely. I think that that’s an incredibly useful tool. And I think the ability to be able to talk to other people and to have objectivity on things and have those people in your life that can ask you those questions that challenge your thought processes that challenge your belief systems, like you say that challenge your map of the world is a really useful thing. And I think the more that we can do that in respectful ways with each other, and supportive ways, the more that will develop that ability to be resilient and to bounce back.

Bill 11:12
My in the past, you have been pretty good at breaking things.

Mal 11:20
I like in the past part.

Bill 11:21
Yeah. I did that on purpose, I want to I want to make sure it remains that way. Tell me about some of the things that you broke in the past.

Past injuries

Mal 11:30
Yeah, well, from from a bone perspective, physically, I’ve managed to be an affiliate of a club in many ways that I’ve broken my back twice. And I’ve broken my neck once. And the second time was 10 years ago now. And I actually broke my spine and four places, which was I broke it in three places through my back, and I broke my C7 in my neck. So it was a fairly significant accident, they almost claimed My life was probably only minutes away from checking out.

Mal 12:10
And that record a significant amount of rehabilitation. For me really, in terms of my recovery, I had to have multiple operations, I had to have titanium rods and screws to pin my spawn deck together, had to have my spine bone graft that. And then unfortunately, from there, due to human error, or I got a significant spinal infection and my post operation and then had to suffer three months really, or ongoing treatments and the recovery of the spinal.

Mal 12:47
So fairly big moment in life, really. And, you know, it’s, it stopped me in my tracks in regards to being a really fit, healthy physical guy. And I went from that to being a person that relied solely and completely on other people to do literally everything for me, from eating to going to the bathroom toileting to cleaning myself, which was a really, really difficult time in my life for a period of months as I as I went through that process until I eventually can look after myself again.

Bill 13:24
Well, so are you able to share a little bit about what happened in the accident? How was that you ended up in such a bad state?

Mal 13:34
Yeah, so I had been home for two weeks, I’d been traveling and working overseas, life was good, it would be fair to say, and summertime was just approaching in New Zealand. So I was looking forward to you, as you do spend summer with friends and family out in the outdoors adventuring, I was doing a DIY home project, which we were tuning in an old concrete sheet into a home entertainment center.

Mal 14:01
And part of the job was to initially take down the internal concrete walls with the net sheet so we could line it and jam it. And or stay on to the second to last concrete wall was working by myself. And unfortunately, I had a fairly significant weakness in the wall, which we didn’t know at the time. And as I leaned underneath, it cracked and fell right on top of it.

Mal 14:25
And penned to be underneath it. So it was probably and well well in excess of a half a ton. And it was on top of me for a good amount of time or I tried probably for a good minute and a half. It boosts to get out and I couldn’t I couldn’t move as I’ve always said to people that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to describe the pain and in the pressure of being slowly crushed to death what that actually feels like it was terrifying.

Mal 14:55
And I very much remember the emotions that I went through on that day. I pretty much After about three to four minutes, except that that I was going to die. And the emotions I experienced on that day happens in a sequential order, the first was fear and take it with sheer terror, I was just absolutely terrified in the nature, and the way that I was going to die that day, which was going to be alarm and slow and lonely. Death. Dude was very angry.

Mal 15:21
I was very angry that was going to die at 35. So Yang was so much like he hit me, there’s so much to do, you know, I wasn’t ready to die. I hadn’t expected that to happen that day. And I certainly didn’t want to, or my next emotion was overwhelming sadness and grief for the people I’d never see again in my life. And the people that would never see me again.

Mal 15:43
And I thought about my funeral, I thought about the people that would be there. And, and after that, the very last emotion I had on that day before I kind of close my eyes and never really expected to open them again was regret. And now I’ll never ever forget it because people often say it don’t die with regrets in hand, I died at that 35, which I almost did, I would have died angry and regretful.

Mal 16:08
And in the end, there was many things in my life that I still hadn’t done or seen. And, you know, it always said, I’ll do this one day, or do the Sunday or do this another day. And what I realized in that moment was that Sunday, or one day or another day, we’re never going to come and it’s going to check out that day, having not told my parents how much I loved them and appreciated the unconditional support for me.

Mal 16:30
I hadn’t told my partner that day, what she meant to me, and then all the things as well, that I hadn’t done in my life and the places I hadn’t been to them. So that was a pretty, pretty terrifying way to go. Really. Yeah. After about after about three or four minutes, somehow the wall correct for a second time and, and the process of cracking it partially rolled off me, which is essentially why I’m still alive today.

Bill 16:58
Wow, and how long did it take before you were found?

Mal 17:02
A good 20 minutes. So I managed to one hand at a time, pull myself basically over to my cell phone where I was able to send a text. And shortly after got a very panicked phone call from my brother who knew where I was, we didn’t have much of a conversation to be fair, I couldn’t really talk at the time, I also had a punctured lung.

Mal 17:25
And about 20 minutes later an ambulance arrived, which was probably the first time I went into kind of parasympathetic girls actually feeling calm about it. You know, I knew that there were other people around and I knew that everything was going to be okay. wonderful moment.

Feeling angry

Bill 17:44
Wow, man, that’s pretty amazing. scenario. You know, you said a bit earlier that you went through anger?

Mal 17:52
Yeah, very much so.

Bill 17:53
So who were you angry at?

Mal 17:54
I was angry. It’s the things that I hadn’t done in life and the things that I hadn’t seen. And, you know, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d actually told my mom and dad, how much I love them and how grateful I was for their unconditional love and support and my life. And, you know, I was angry that I wasn’t going to get to tell them that.

Mal 18:17
And that I was going to go to my grave with sets, you know, I’m seeing the most angry that I hadn’t said goodbye to my partner that morning that I just jumped in the car and gone to work and that I hadn’t told her that I loved her. And those are the things that I was angry about the things that were unseen, and I’m done.

Bill 18:36
Well, I’d say that there’d be a few people out there listening who would probably be picking up their phones, right and ringing their mom and dad. Or their loved ones. So if you guys if you feel that way inclined to press pause, go and do it. And then come back and listen to the rest of the episode.

Mal 18:54
Yeah, just don’t go near a concrete wall on your way.

Bill 18:56
Yeah, yeah, void the concrete walls, just call from your mobile, just next door to your desk, whatever it is pull over in the car. Anything that you’ve got to do, just get it done. If that’s how you feel, you know, we’ll wait for you. Now that everyone’s back from having gone and told everyone that they loved them, which I’m glad that they were inspired to do.

Bill 19:18
I’m not having it. Tell me about, you know what I really want to understand what’s going on in somebody’s mind when they’ve been crushed by a wall. Because yours was a physical wall, but other people are getting crushed by their own metaphorical walls. Yeah. And and you drag yourself out one hand at a time, not able to do much more than send a text.

Bill 19:47
What sort of state of mind is somebody in when they’re at rock bottom, underneath all this Rubble, dragging themselves out and getting to a place where they’ve got to make you know that most important a text message of their life or phone call of their life, you know, what happens? What motivates you? How’d you get there? What do you have to dig into to get to, to get to that?

Mal 20:11
Yeah, it was an interesting experience, the moment that I realized I was going to live that I could get out from underneath that wall by experienced overwhelming joy. And, or remember very, very clearly, and the feeling of knowing that I was going to be alive. And it was very, very quickly followed by absolute sheer terror again, almost momentarily, and that was because I, I had done enough outdoor training and crusade to understand the mechanics of the accident and the injury.

Mal 20:42
And I knew pretty quickly that although I’d escaped death, I certainly hadn’t escaped serious injury. I could also feel loss of feeling down my left arm at the time. So to be fair, at that moment, I was an absolute shock, adrenaline and norridge all of that was just kind of raging through my body at the time, but I did know that I had to get help.

Mal 21:12
And so I, I was able to drag myself one one omelets at a time over to the other side to get that text and I knew that once I could get help, once I could establish contact with somebody, that things would be okay that that they would take care of whatever was necessary after that, and that I could just kind of relax and wait for, for medics to arrive. In terms of the the injuries, I really didn’t know exactly what had happened until that evening.

Mal 21:53
And when I first arrived at hospital, the other doctors and nurses waiting for me, you know, they probed and poke me, they rolled me they did all sorts of things. They did CAT scans and MRIs. And it was that evening, get a doctor sit down with me and told me the extent of my injuries and basically told me that I was ever going to walk again or had any chance of walking again that I was going to need surgery, and I was going to leave my spine pinned back together in order for that to happen.

Mal 22:23
And it probably took a couple of days for that to sink in. They took seven days, I think it was before the surgery. So the swelling around my spine had to go down. And again, I really don’t remember a lot of that seven days awesome, intensive care for a period of time, I had a number of people come and visit me that I actually can’t remember, um, it was a real memory loss to be furious, drugged up one more thing.

Mal 22:55
And I kind of went in and out of coherency. And it really wasn’t until probably post surgery that the depth and breadth of what I’d done had really sunk in. And my resolve to come back and to fight back was was really, really deep and powerful. And I guess, because I’ve been through such a frightening experience in such a near death experience, that from that moment, I knew that my recovery was going to be my number one priority.

Mal 23:29
And that I was going to put everything into it to be able to come back from it. And once you have been on the verge of dying with regrets, it’s fairly easy decision for me to go on never gonna be in that position again, metaphorically, next time online under a brick wall. or certainly won’t have regrets about what I haven’t done or haven’t seen.

Bill 23:55
Yeah, that’s a really powerful place to learn from, although, you know, we could avoid those. But you sound a little bit like me, I’m a little bit thick headed. And sometimes I have to I have to actually learn the hard way.

Bill 24:13
And that’s okay. But sometimes, you know, the pain and suffering really makes it a difficult place to start learning from at the beginning. But then later on it’s really transforms the way that you look at life and the things that you do and the way that you express yourself and the people that you connect with.

A powerful experience

Bill 24:31
So I often talk about the best thing that ever happened to me was three brain hemorrhages and waking up from surgery and not being able to walk is other than the physical part that you had to go through and the terror and stuff that that was causing to your family and friends. How would you describe the experience like is it spiritual for you like what kind of experience is it?

Mal 24:56
It’s a very powerful experience for me. It’s Look like you. It’s something I’m actually grateful that I’ve experienced in my life. And I’m grateful that I experienced that at that age, because it gives me another 60 odd years to go and do the things that I hadn’t done.

Mal 25:13
And I’m grateful that I didn’t experience at a late age in life where maybe I wasn’t able to do some of those things now. So I’m very grateful that I had the experience. And on deeply grateful that I got to live, of course, to be able to, to have more of life, I see it as a positive in my life. I see it as something that that is added value to my life. In many ways, really.

Mal 25:49
And, you know, I still experience pain on a daily basis. It’s something that I live with, but it’s easy for me to be able to reframe, and when we talk about resiliency, one of the areas of resiliency around mental resiliency is your ability to reframe situations and, and because of that actually see them differently. And for me, pain is something that that actually no makes me know I’m alive.

Mal 26:18
And I could have easily not been alive, I could sit, I could very easily have not felt anything from the neck down. And in the hospital. The nurses and the doctors referred to me as the miracle man. And they call me that because they were astounded that given the state of my injuries that I was able to walk again. So, you know, it could easily have been a teacher play, or a quadriplegic. And so the fact that I can feel and experience pain is actually a positive in my life.

Bill 26:48
That’s an awesome reframe I have as a result of my surgery, I have left side numbness. And constantly, the whole left side feels like it belongs to somebody else. And it was attached to me somewhere along the line. And what happens is, when I get tired, when I’ve done too much one of over exerted, whether it’s, you know, physical or mental effort, it gets more and more numb.

Bill 27:13
And as a result of that, you know, my balance gets wobbly. What’s good about that is it very rarely gets to the point where my balance gets wobbly, because it’s a sign that I am becoming physically and emotionally or mentally tired and I need to rest.

Mal 27:30
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s our body’s giving us that new citizen, and it’s an opportunity for us to listen and learn from it. And, you know, learn a tremendous amount, if not yet you have bill from having your experience, and, and going through what you’ve gone through.

Mal 27:46
And I think often, when we go through difficult experiences, it’s very easy, you know, because of the negativity bias in our brain. And because of all of that, it’s very easy to focus on the things that maybe you no longer have, or maybe that you’ve lost. And I know for me initially during that, excellent, that’s what I did do, you know, I focused on the fact that I’d lost my career, and I wouldn’t be able to do this. And I won’t be able to do that.

Mal 28:10
And part of me being able to come back from it and bounce back and was actually changing it. And notice, like, Oh, stop focusing on the 500 things in your life you can’t do and now focus on the 10 and a half 1000 things that you still can do. And I think that that’s a really important part for anyone that’s going through that what you said earlier, you’re experiencing being crushed by that brick wall metaphorically.

Mal 28:36
Again, it’s it’s finding those small things, isn’t it that we can focus on that we still do have that we are able to do and wanting the small things where you can find joy and pleasure and mania and engagement in life, which I think is just really important.

Bill 28:51
Yeah. And it sounds like you’ve done that really successfully. And it reminds me of, you know, some of the Paralympians that, you know, were able bodied, to begin with and through some, you know, situation in their lives, ended up losing a limb or, you know, being physically sort of impaired, and then decide, you know, I’m going to go on become a world champion, wheelchair basketballer, or a world champion, you know, one swimmer, which just astounds me.

Bill 29:20
But you see that again, and again and again, when people have similar experiences to you know, what you’re describing, which is you consider your mortality for the first time. It has a tremendous effect. And although I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, it’s definitely not been a negative experience for the many people that I’ve spoken to, that have gone through similar things to what I’ve gone through, and then also others that have gone through, you know, stuff, stuff, like you sort of experienced, so, yeah, that’s right.

Mal 29:50
And look at the great news is that, you know, people don’t have to go through that kind of stuff in life in order to get the most out of life and enter And to essentially, you know, fly. In science, you may be aware of this, they refer to it now as post traumatic growth, which is, in some ways, kind of the opposite of post traumatic stress disorder.

Mal 30:12
So that’s what we mean, when people go through really traumatic experiences and come out the other end of it, I guess we can do one of two things, that experience can become a negative and define us and negative ways or that experience can be something really positive, and we can grow from it.

Mal 30:32
And what you’re just talking about here as examples of people who have had post traumatic growth, and I wish I’d had that experience, and to, quote, the well known quote, that we often use, and that, you know, the coaching to mBraining the experiences and what happens to us, it’s what we do about what happens to us.

Mal 30:51
And that’s where resiliency comes in, isn’t it, that’s where our ability to bounce back their ability to adapt their ability to deal with those kinds of situations, in difficult experiences, as is really important.

Bill 31:06
So Mal, let’s say somebody listened to us that is getting inspired is appreciating what we’re sharing. And they haven’t, hopefully not they haven’t experienced a near death experience or a really traumatic, or really traumatic episode in their life. And maybe they’ve got a few regrets, just basically, because of the stuff that they’ve heard us talk about.

Bill 31:29
And they’re wondering, how can I go about having this new found version, this new desire for life achieving, you know, setting things straight? How do I do that? How do I learn that? Is there a way that they can learn that? Is it something that can be taught?

Mal 31:51
Yeah, without a doubt, 100% it can be learned and you know, like, how much research is out there now to demonstrate that actually, our brain isn’t as hard wired as we once thought, actually, it’s quite soft wired, isn’t it? You know, like it has neuroplasticity, and so know, clearly our brains change and modify themselves over the period of our life.

Mal 32:11
So through through work, and through effort, we can grow new neurons, new neural pathways through through creating habits. And, you know, there’s a number of ways One of the things I strongly encourage people to do is take a look at Jane McGonigal, his TED Talk, which I think is a really powerful TED Talk. Her name is Jane McGonical.

Mal 32:44
And, but when you look at post traumatic growth, for example, this five, five kind of key things that people say when they go through that, that, that they’ve grown around, and when you compare that with the top five regrets that people hear, on the defeats, funnily enough, those tend to be the direct opposite of each other. So I thought I’d share those with you.

Mal 33:09
The first one that people say around post traumatic growth is that as a result of going through something really traumatic, and coming out the other end by saying, I now follow my goals and dreams more in life. One of the things that I think is tremendously important in terms of being able to live a fulfilling, satisfying, engaging, and meaningful life is having dreams and goals in life, and in actively pursuing those.

Mal 33:37
And, you know, again, because of the negativity bias that we have, as human beings, we tend to find all the reasons why we can’t or why we shouldn’t, or why we mustn’t. And as a result of what I’ve gone through, I tend to find out all the reasons why I should, and must and can.

Mal 33:56
And those goals don’t need to be big those, they can be small, or they can be big, but but they’re so incredibly important in terms of providing a set meaning and purpose and, and something to look forward to. But I went through my injury. One of the things that really helped me in my recovery was about two weeks into my after my accident, about a week after my operation, I set myself a goal, which to be fair was quite a big goal. And it was it was quite a difficult thing to think about at the time.

Mal 34:33
But my goal was to do a marathon within 12 months more than excellent. And, you know, there were many people at the time that told me I couldn’t and I shouldn’t and that would cause me more damage. But that was something that is resolved. It kind of got me out of bed every day and it drove me into action to do things. So I think that’s one really important thing, you know, for people to sit back and just kind of reflect on wherever like going, what am I doing?

Mal 35:02
It isn’t working for me or do I need to actually think about setting my life in a different direction and small or large ways, I think presupposed within our dreams and goals is the ability to take risk, and to get outside of our comfort zone. Again, I think it’s a tremendously powerful thing to be able to do, to confront those fears that hold us back. And, again, it’s things that we can do every day, just small things that we can do that, that take us out of our comfort zone that and as a result, we, we’ve developed that resiliency in regards to our emotional and mental resiliency sticking out.


Bill 35:45
Yeah, I want to make it really clear to the people that are listening, that neuroplasticity happens in the heart and also happens in the gut as well. So those changes that we’re talking about making, when you begin the process of trying to make a change, and you start growing the neural structures to support that new version of yourself or, or that new task, or whatever it is, actually occurs in the head, the heart and the gut.

Bill 36:10
And therefore, that comes together in a much stronger way to supporting that new task than previously thought, where it just occurred in the head. So when you know what’s actually happening in your head, heart and gut, you can actually feel good about getting up in the morning, and trying to walk when you can’t, when you know, you can’t like when I couldn’t, when I couldn’t feel my left leg.

Bill 36:35
I knew that every step, even the one that appeared to somebody else as a failed step was growing new pathways in my head, my heart and my gut. So even though I didn’t do it perfectly, day, one day to day three, I felt really good about what I was doing, I was growing these pathways, and they were becoming permanent in my, in my heart in my head in my gut.

Bill 36:57
And as a result of that, they were never going to go away because I always intended like you to get up and about run a marathon, etc. But I intended to walk and to ride a bike and all those things. And I just felt really comfortable and at ease when I was in rehab. Did you go through any rehab to get yourself back into that sort of standard, you know, version of yourself with regards to walking.

Mal 37:20
Very much so yeah, rehab was a big part of my recovery. So I went through beginning to walk again, first on exam a brain, or first of all supported by people either side of me, and then for a period of time on a Zimmer frame and then onto crutches. And then eventually, probably about three months down the road. I was walking unaided, but it was a huge part of my recovery. The rehabilitation side and physios occupational therapists.

Mal 37:58
And I really support what you say there, build it, that just small things every day really, really helped. And in knowing that you might not necessarily do them so well, but just doing them as a big part of it. Now, I was tremendously motivated to get back. I remember at one stage, we have a system over here in New Zealand called ACC, which is kind of like in a health insurance, but it’s it’s funded by the government.

Mal 38:26
So whenever you go through a significant accident, you’re kind of covered in terms of wages, and I’m never talking to a lady and she said to me, look, now we’ve given you 18 months, and regards to your recovery that will cover you for non sitter at the time. I only need six. And she kind of scoffed at me. And she said, No, you don’t need 18 I know exactly the kind of injury you’ve had.

Mal 38:52
And she clearly didn’t listen to me. And then I said, you know, that’s, that’s great. Thanks very much. But um, no, I believe I’ll only need six and, and funnily enough, that’s all I needed. I was able to use the support of other people to be able to get back into fully functioning.

Bill 39:10
So she probably thought you were being cocky.

Mal 39:13
Yeah, yeah, of course, he had no doubt. And, you know, in between that conversation and six months later, came a significant amount of hard work in when we talked about resiliency. Again, presupposed in it is the desire to work and to actually make the effect. And I always say to people, I own a business on the business owner and as a business owner, that requires me to work hard to maintain it and to sustain it.

Mal 39:46
And if things aren’t necessarily going well in my business, then I need to change and adapt in order to still have a business. And many people that I speak to in everyday life, I give them that metaphor and say, you know, if you had a business would you Card would be, if it wasn’t going well with you change it, would you do things differently? And people are like, yeah, of course I will.

Mal 40:06
But even when it comes to their own life, they’re not paid to do the same amount of hard work.

Bill 40:11
Yeah, and hard doesn’t have to be struggle, right?

Mal 40:14
Not at all. Not at all. No, it just means making an effort. And yeah, so that’s a good rate friend. I mean, not at all do I mean, hard isn’t demanding. I just mean that. It’s, it’s got to be sustained consistently. And particularly, we’re talking about, you know, neuroplasticity, and rewiring our brains is such an important part of what we do.

Bill 40:38
Yeah, man, beautiful stuff we’re talking about here. I’m really enjoying this opportunity to chat with you. I want to go and touch a little bit about belief. So yeah, I know that you told that particular person that you was going to be, you know, six months was or more than you needed.

Bill 40:57
But how do you go about? You know, is it faith is a belief is a trust? What is it that makes you say that that’s what I’m going to do? And then you achieve that, you know, how do it’s not only working hard and all those things, but what else is it?

Mal 41:15
Yeah, I think I’ve always backed myself in certain areas. And I think because I’ve always been in the outdoors and ends. on it, I am an adventurer, I have spent a lot of my life wrapping it. And, and I have put myself in some considerably, and hospitable environments at times. And I’ve come out of them that I have believed in myself as a result.

Mal 41:44
And I guess, in many ways, I, I know, to a certain degree, that I’m capable of achieving some of those things. And I think sometimes other people tend to project their beliefs onto us. And one of the things that I’ve certainly been to my life, the hard way at times is not to allow that is not to allow people to project their beliefs onto us. they’re entitled to those.

Mal 42:16
But that’s it, it doesn’t mean that I have to sit there. So I think I always knew that I could do it. by choice chose to allow myself to be inspired by other people that have achieved really big things I read books I about people who’d come back from really big setbacks.

Mal 42:40
And, and I just set myself goals and, and I pushed myself, you know, my physio would say to me, now you need to walk to the letterbox at home and back today, then I would walk to the end of the street and back and he said, do you need to do five minutes on the bicycle or do 20 minutes?

Mal 43:01
If you said you need to do 20 lifts in the swimming pool, kicking with a flat aboard or do 100 lifts. And I was driven. So I think it was a combination of things below. belief, desire to get back. My mode of motivation, hard work determination, and, and resiliency, you know, and I keep going back to that, because multiple times I fell over both, literally and metaphorically, in my recovery.

Mal 43:34
Yeah. But I had to keep focusing on the positive, I had to keep getting myself back up. And sometimes I needed support of other people to be able to do that, again, both literally and metaphorically. And I think part of developing our resiliency is that concept of social resiliency of surrounding ourselves with people who believe in us.

Mal 43:57
Surrounding ourselves, with people who are like-minded, in many ways, people who are willing to challenge and support us. And I think that’s, again, a really useful thing. And it was certainly very useful for me and my recovery.

Pushing the limits

Bill 44:16
Yeah, this seems to be a lot of power, at least in my experience of pushing the limit, when you’re told, you know, do five minutes and then trying to do 10, do 20 minutes and then trying to do 20 did you make a lot of decisions that you weren’t able to achieve? For example, that 20-minute walk that you were going to go on digit driven not making and think okay, you know, I’ve got to 15 minutes I need to turn back.

Mal 44:41
Absolutely, yeah, many times actually. And many thought times I bet off too much more than I could show in regards to that and that was okay. And again, it was about patting myself on the back for the things that I had done and and and what I had achieved that day, rather Then being disappointed with myself that I hadn’t achieved what I’d set out to do.

Mal 45:08
And, you know, I think that’s sometimes challenging, we do tend to be our own harshest critics. And often, that negativity bias tends to be used the hardest on ourselves, isn’t it? And certainly one of the things that I learned is to, to be kind to myself to be self-compassionate. And to acknowledge the progress that I was making, rather than the hard on myself for the things I wasn’t doing.

Bill 45:41
Yeah, it also sounds like a part of resilience is, you know, being able to look back on the things that you’ve achieved and done in your life, prior to that moment that, you know, something has happened, and understand, or perhaps more, more, to the point, realize that a lot of the things in life that you have the skills that you’ve already achieved.

Bill 46:08
Are transferable and able to be used in circumstances that are more dramatic, and more challenging. Is that something that you’ve found from what you’ve done in the past? Or that you’re able to bring into this new way of sort of doing yourself? Oh, very much.

Mal 46:26
I had to essentially create a, or start a new career as a result of my excellent. And yeah, very much I it’s been a period of time looking back and, and almost kind of self auditing my strengths and life and what I was good at and what I had done with my life. And, again, to be fair, I’ve done quite a bit. And sometimes this just power and being happy in that moment was there.

Mal 46:59
And sitting with it, you know, and I think, again, sometimes we tend to compare ourselves too much and too often with other people. It was through reflection, and through actually identifying skills that that I had from the past that I could take those on and actually create a new career for myself. And had I not done that I certainly wouldn’t be in the business that I’m in today.

Mal 47:23
And, you know, I’ve been in it for almost almost nine years now. And it’s a very successful business as it stands right now. So again, very important, I think, to be able to do that. And once again, it’s that negativity bias that women do not pick, it’s often not useful wise. You know, it’s about what we haven’t done or what we what we haven’t achieved, as opposed to what we have done and what we have achieved.

Bill 47:51
Yeah. Now mutual friend, Grant Soosalu who is also the founder of mBraining, one of the co-founders. And the, and can be found at m recently had an experience or you guys together had an experience that was near life and death.

Bill 48:13
And, and it was around about that time that I ended up in hospital for surgery from my head. And I remember speaking to grant after he came back, and both of us sort of sharing our, our stories about near death or war wounds, or whatever you want to call it. Yeah. Are you able to tell me a little bit about that with Grant?

Mal 48:36
Yeah, that was 2000 in 2014 grants. And the owner has lovely, lovely wife, and myself and my partner at the time, Becky, we went and spent a month in Nepal, and traveled up through the North Western area of Nepal caught in an area called Afghanistan. And probably were about a nine or 10 until a 14 day trick.

Mal 49:05
We were at about 3900 meters above sea level. And without any warning, really, at lunchtime one day grants, a cerebral edema, which was elder to sickness basically. At first, we didn’t really recognize what was happening. But the repetitiveness of it happened very, very fast.

Mal 49:32
Very quickly, I came to realize what it was. And so the grant and the fascinating part about grants near death experience was that he was actually Cognizant through the whole process and literally talked us through it step by step as you’d expect from such a such an intelligent point of almost genius man. It’s a we hit to get them down to below 3000 meters very quickly.

Mal 49:57
And we were on foot Took us probably a good two hours to walk them down 200 meters. So we got them down to around about 3700 meters. At that stage, I along with my partner Becky believed that it was probably 5050 in regards to whether or not granted love.

Mal 50:22
We had attended to get a helicopter and to fly out. But unfortunately, just a couple of days prior, they’ve been once in a 50 year snowstorm in the pool. What seems to happen with climate change, and sadly, over 50 people have died. And so all the helicopters were out looking for putting up bodies at the time, so we couldn’t get a helicopter.

Mal 50:45
And so we had no choice but to walk grant down. His condition was worsening, literally by the minutes. In a cerebral edema is basically fluid on the brain. And it was moving down into a pulmonary edema. So it’s sort of slowly maybe down to its heart. Which, if it gets to that stage, it’s it’s incredibly serious, that’s critical. And to cut a long story short, after a couple of hours of getting them down, we were able to get hold of some jeeps.

Mal 51:23
And that began the process of about a four hour journey to travel another 700 meters down, which was to be feel almost as frightening. The Jeep journey down with the local Nicolaides guys, is is the initial thrill Damon that grant had I thought we were actually all going to die on that trip. But yeah, so he was a very, very lucky guy, and heads the after effects for the following two days.

Mal 51:55
But once we got to below 3000 meters, he was safe. And we all felt a lot easier about it. That was probably about eight hours after the initial cerebral edema had occurred. So at one stage there it was, it was it was it was easily 5050. And the gas to the ground was going to stay with us or not.

Bill 52:19
Yeah, I remember having a conversation with grant about it. While I was still in hospital recovering and freaking out that he had been through something like that. And he was telling me about the Sherpas and how, you know, how they’re driven by instinct.


Bill 52:38
And I imagine a level of resilience that most people can understand because they’ve got to put up with taking, you know, all the Westerners up and down these mountains all the time, in conditions that most of us wouldn’t be able to deal with, you know, for one or two days, let alone all the time. Tell me about what do you sort of see that makes somebody you know, somebody like a Sherpa?

Mal 53:09
Incredibly resilient human being. And when we talk about resiliency, no, no look at sheer prism and model, a shooter in terms of it. Within the area of resiliency, they talk about four key areas and four things that we can develop in order to be more resilient human beings. The first is physical resiliency, and our ability to bounce back physically.

Mal 53:36
So essentially, that’s physical toughness, you know, the fitter we are, the more likely we are to be able to think well, the second is mental resiliency, our ability to be able to think on our feet, change our mind, the ability to be able to challenge our thoughts and our thought processes. The third is what they call emotional resiliency. And the fourth is social resiliency.

Mal 54:05
And because we’re a system as a human being, they all influence and affect each other. But when I look at shippers, when I look at guides in Nepal, they have all of those in spades, incredibly, incredibly foot people, they spend their lifetime going up and down, carrying incredibly heavy packs that your wife probably couldn’t carry for more than 50 meters.

Mal 54:30
And these guys carry them sometimes two, three weeks on INS 2030 K’s a day. just tremendous amounts of physical resiliency, they get to the end of the day and and we need that we need four or five hours to recover that. They don’t have five minutes. They have a huge amount of cognitive resiliency. They’re open minded, they’re willing to learn new things all the time and challenge themselves.

Mal 54:58
They’re very limited. Connected people, you know, I think it’s no surprise to anyone that that people from that area are very emotionally connected. They’re very heart based people in terms of what they do and how they love their life. And, and because they are so community orientated and because they work together so much that social resiliency is zero as well. So I think they’re a wonderful example of modeling resiliency and modeling ways to develop resilience.

Bill 55:32
Yeah, it sounds like they’re awesome people to learn from and from my own son’s experience when he went to Nepal, only a year before that, the same place where you guys were trekking with his school. He said that they were just amazing people. And when he felt ill, he had, he only had was diarrhea for a couple of days. One of them carried him up the trick the whole way.

Bill 55:58
And it was just amazing to me that, did you feel bad being carried by somebody? And he said, No, no, that’s, that’s what they do. They had to carry me otherwise, I was going to be holding everyone back. So they didn’t want, they didn’t want him to be slowing down the pack.

Mal 56:14
You know, and it’s so true. I just think we can learn so much from from people from those areas, you know, you come back from there, and you’re a better person because of the experience. And you look at what why might Tim firstworldproblems this is third world problems, you know, really, we have very little of anything to actually get disappointed or moan about when we compare ourselves or to what they have. And, you know, I look at so many people around where I live in so many people that I deal with.

Mal 56:50
And it’s funny, you know, because materialistically, they have everything in life, they have the nice car, they have the nice house, they have secure job, they have financial independence, they have the iPhone six, but funnily enough, they’re still unhappy. And, you know, when you talk to people about that, they find it really surprising that those people are unhappy.

Mal 57:15
But I think in many ways presupposed with the next question is understanding happiness and resiliency, isn’t that because we’ve always placed materialistic wealth on it on happiness? And if I get this, if I have that, then I’ll be happy. Yeah. And when you look at people over there, they do it the other way around. And I think that we could learn so much from that, you know, there’s as unhappy anyway.

Bill 57:45
Yeah, everything else is maybe a bonus, but they’re already happy.

Mal 57:50
Absolutely. And because of that, it affects their psyche in really positive ways. You know, not once in the time that I was with those guys, even through Grant’s really traumatic experience and posts it not once did I hear them say anything negative, not once did I hear them talk negatively, not once did they say a bad thing about anybody or anyone.

Mal 58:13
They just got on with life. And they enjoyed the moment and every time you spoke with them, or talk to them or looked at them, they were happy, or they were smiling, or they had something positive to say and you know, if we can learn to do that, in our lives in will be tremendously good people for.

Bill 58:29
Loving it mate. Absolutely loving it. We could talk forever. I love this topic. I love hearing what you’ve got to say I really enjoy enjoying this episode. But we’ve got to start wrapping it up. And as we do that, I’m curious to just hear a little bit about standout leadership, what it is that you do in the business?

Mal 58:50
Yes, sure. So I started standout leadership in 2008. And we we work with individuals and organizations and primarily to develop their leadership capability across the business. We do that in a variety of ways, both. So we’re not a training company. And the reason I say we’re not a training company is because we know and all the research will clearly show very, very clearly that training in and of itself is almost a waste of time.

Mal 59:23
You know, you don’t learn to be a leader by going on a two day workshop. You learn to be a leader over the period of your lifetime. And that’s the difference really between training and development. So we work with organizations have a long period of time. Some of our clients we’ve had for about six years now. And we’re very specialist in what we do.

Mal 59:44
So we do that through online leadership tools that we have, and leadership analytics that we provide. We also do that through coaching and funnily enough in Probably the last 18 months, we have developed stuff around resiliency. And one of the biggest areas that we get asked for now in business is resiliency development. More and more organizations are coming to us and asking us about it.

Mal 1:00:16
So probably about 12 months ago, now, I got together with grant and developed a product that we’ve taken on to two organizations now. And around helping people develop those levels of resiliency. So we do that in a professional development since in the other arm of my businesses personal development. And that’s where things like NLP comes in as an NLP trainer in bits, which I just absolutely love.

Mal 1:00:44
I think it’s a profound framework, the evolve your will program, and account, like to run more and more of those, not just in New Zealand, but But hopefully, in different places around the world and end to finish, hopefully, Grant and I can further develop the resilience training and also make that available to people within the inbut community in regards to debt, if it’s something they’re interested in.

Bill 1:01:14
Yeah, they say they’d be interested in it, mate. It’s never enough resilience, I think out there. It’s definitely needed. It’s things that it’s something that people will benefit from, I know that I did a lot of work before surgery with a whole bunch of different people to get me prepared for surgery, including, and I hypnotherapists, including coaches, including chatting, chatting with grant, and a whole bunch of other people so that when I went into surgery, I was already resilient.

Bill 1:01:45
And I already knew that I was going to walk out of there at some point, even though I didn’t know the timeframe. And I recall that the thing that I was most grateful for was that I had done all the work and spoke to all the people that I had, who volunteered their time, you know, to get me prepared to be resilient for what I might face. And when I woke up, all I was facing was the ability that I had lost the ability to walk.

Bill 1:02:16
So I was expecting it to be a little bit I was prepared for the worst expecting the best, but thought that I wouldn’t get away with just not being able to walk. Yeah. So yeah. So you know, resilience is something that we need more of. And in exponential times, as you know, as things start to take the grid as growth starts to take a different form and just go through the roof. And I people are going to need more and more ways to learn the skills of resilience. So I look forward to hearing about you know that that program as well.

Mal 1:02:53
Yeah, and you’ve hit the nail on the head guy, it’s, we none of us know what’s around the corner in regards to that. And now the world is speeding up exponentially. rates of change have accelerated so much. And, you know, one of the constant things I hear from people in today’s business world is, I’m so busy, I’m so busy, I’m so busy. It’s almost like they wear it like a name badge, something to be proud of.

Mal 1:03:19
But it’s not sustainable. And, you know, to use grants metaphor, it’s a bit like driving a car down the motorway at 120 k an hour within blackphone something eventually is going to give and I think the more that we’re aware of that stuff, and the more that we can do in our own lives to make ourselves more whole, to develop our own well being and health will be better people for it will live in the communities for it, we’ll have a better society for it. And you know, ultimately, the goal of inbreeding is to affect people worldwide. And I’m sure that can happen.

Bill 1:03:54
Yeah, beautiful, man. I’m looking forward to it. Now before we finish up, can you just tell me where do people go? To find more about you?

Mal 1:04:05
Sure, Look, over there at my website, but it’s not the best.

Bill 1:04:11
You’ve been busy.

Mal 1:04:12
Yeah, exactly. Exciting times for me, are hidden gems in my business. So I’ll have a new website up before the end of June. I’m lucky.

Bill 1:04:25
So let’s give people the details anyway, because you’ll probably have a redirection if it’s not the same domain name.

Mal 1:04:33
So it’s Email me my email is I’d love people to email me and ask me questions are share further information with me. Or even if people want to look at collaborating on things, that’s what I’m all about. So if that’s what people want to do, I welcome it.

Bill 1:05:12
Yeah, brilliant. Mal, thank you so much for making the time. I really appreciate you sharing and being so open with us. I look forward to hearing more about what it is that you’ve got coming up. And I look forward to getting to know you a little more, as we as we continue going down our own individual journeys.

Mal 1:05:31
Yeah, likewise, Bill, and you know, what you’ve done and what you’re doing in regards to the radio, here is fantastic night. And so just want to pass some positive comments on it, you know, keep it up at so I’ve listened to a number of your things now. And they’re all really, really educational, and and formal. So I’d love your work. Keep it up, look forward to hearing more often.

Bill 1:05:52
Thanks so much. I get inspired every time I speak to somebody, and I’m learning, probably more than I thought I would. And I think I’m getting more out of this personally, by the wisdom that people are sharing than I expected, which, yeah, a fantastic bonus, because I had to overcome a lot of self doubt.

Bill 1:06:12
When I was putting it together and thinking about, you know, how I was going to position this and, and just believing and trusting and having faith in in that once it was up and running, good things would come is what sort of got me through. So putting those things that you and I both spoken about in action gets really amazing things and things that we didn’t expect. So thank you for saying that. I really appreciate it.

Mal 1:06:38
I think you’re living breathing example below. One of the reasons why you should as opposed to finding all the reasons why you can’t couldn’t so good on you, man.

Bill 1:06:49
Well, I hope you enjoyed that episode, as much as I did. Talk about finding a way to overcome adversity and being resilient. Mel is a unique person and I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to interview him. Well, this episode of The mBraining show was brought to you by, one of the world’s leading in bit coach certification providers.

Bill 1:07:15
If you like this episode of the mBraining show, go across to iTunes and leave us a five star review. This will help others discover mBraining at might help to make a positive change in their life. Also, if you found this interview helpful, if you can relate to what was shared.

Bill 1:07:33
If someone you know needs to hear this, do please share it with them by posting on Facebook, or Twitter or other social media sites that you frequent. It will help me reach people that are in need and could make all the difference in someone’s life that may be doing a tough at the moment. If you are living in a country that currently does not have somebody running an mBIT coach certification.

Bill 1:07:58
Do get in touch by going to the website, and filling out the contact form and I will be in touch. Let’s see how we can work together and make an mBIT coach certification happen in your corner of the world. Until the next episode. Thank you for tuning in to mBIT radio.

Intro 1:08:22
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Intro 1:08:51
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