“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
This month we are greatly honoured to feature Richard Wright……….. Proud dad, Public Speaker, Endurance Athlete, Cancer Survivor, Photographer, Creative Baker and as he says… Mistake Maker and Expert in Confronting Fear.
It is not often that a brief encounter with someone has such a huge, immediate and lasting impact on your life! I think and believe, that everyone though, that has had the privilege to be in the presence of Richard, must feel the same as I do.
The first time I met Richard was on a very slow training ride through the Cradle with Mike from SBR Sport. Mike casually mentioned that Richard will be joining us and that he was an Ironman Age Group Winner, who apparently was out of shape…. Ja right, WHATEVER! I was in awe. Little miss still trying to figure out which gear is where and here I was in the presence of greatness! And for the record… Richard’s out of shape is most people’s race pace…
What an amazing soul! Richard radiates such positive energy that no matter in which hole your find yourself, you immediately feel uplifted. Richard had no ego and chatted to me about my 70.3 race coming up, the do’s and don’ts, as if we have known each other for some time. Afterwards we had coffee and something that will remain with me for a lifetime is that he took the time to actually notice the waiter, and called her by her name, every time she came to our table and even when we left! #truehuman
4 years later and every time I bump into Richard, his innate positive energy, love for life and down to earth giving back attitude has not changed one bit, no matter his personal battle! And then through that, he has been blessed with this special gift and ability to look at the bright side of whatever curve ball is thrown his way. In fact, he takes the curve ball and turns it into a life changing win – from those in need of Miracles and Unicorns, to saving the Rhinos to saving us mere mortal souls with his blogposts and speaking engagements, inspiring every step of the way.
Have a read and look at Richard’s website to see how you can give back to a cause bigger than yourself! www.iamrichardwright.com
Richard, you are our EPIC person for October and we salute you for doing Epic Shit and changing the world! #moderndayhero #giveithorns #rhinorescueproject #believeinmagic #fuckcancer #JDES #justdoepicshit #legend #richardwright #inspiration
Written by June Smith
WE ASKED RICHARD SOME QUESTIONS AND THIS IS WHAT HE HAD TO SAY
- Do you have a morning ritual? If you do, what is it?
[Richard] Coffee!!! Since the first cancer and subsequent treatment I have struggled to sleep properly. So there is very little routine, however, the early mornings are my escape time. Coffee in bed with my addictions, Clash of Clans (it’s the BEST escape ever!) and social media. If I am REALLY disciplined, I might do the detox tea and journal thing (read; hardly ever)
- You are fighting a huge battle, and winning :), whilst inspiring others. Why extreme events like Ironman and 36ONE?
[Richard] Every time I complete an event like that (whilst fighting cancer and with very little training) I empower myself. “if I can do this by using the power of my mind, I can beat the cancer in my head.” I call it ‘head games’
- How do you motivate yourself on the days when it is less than sunny?
[Richard] My thinking, processing, creative and spiritual time is while I train. Even if that is just a walk around the block. The important thing is just to start, no matter how I feel. I come back feeling better about life, even when it is frustrating, horribly hard, and I’m furious at my own body. Everything changed for me when I heard the words, “you have six months to live”, you look at life differently.
Motivating yourself when things are really rough is sometimes just as simple as looking for things to feel happy about. On the weeks when my girls are with me, just waking up with them in the house or in my bed makes me feel happy. Making their school lunches while they eat their breakfast across the kitchen counter makes me feel happy. Writing them each a unique note and putting it in their lunchboxes for them to find at break makes me feel happy, and having their friends read the letters to them, and see the girls put each note into a box in their room with all of the notes they have ever received.. make me feel happy.
We are conditioned to believe that happiness lies at the end of something. And so we motivate ourselves by completing things, stages in life, or reaching milestones. Therefore we spend so much of our lives waiting for happiness to arrive. What motivates me is understanding that even when I am in remission (the thing that we strive for to make us happy) I could die from any other cause, as could you. That could also happen while I have cancer. So the things that make you feel happy should motivate you. Fill your day with that stuff!
- What is your favourite food and music?
[Richard] a good North Indian curry. Every time! Music is extremely emotive so it depends on the mood. Everything from classical (I’m a huge baroque fan) to contemporary. Currently, Bailey’s playlist hahaha…she’s the ten year old, and has the weirdest mix of music on there.
- What was one of your most defining moments in your life?
[Richard] crossing the finishline of ironman South Africa in 2017 with stage four brain cancer in 10:20. I learned that day that the mind is your most powerful and indomitable tool…or your worst enemy. You decide!
Physically, that result was simply impossible. Perhaps twenty percent of that day was physical talent and muscle memory. The rest.. sheer determination, grit and will power. How badly I wanted it, and what I went through mentally to achieve it
- Apart from hardcore athlete, you bake and decorate the most delicious looking cakes for your princesses. (very impressed with the poop-cake lol) What does creativity bring to you as a person?
[Richard] Haha…that poop emoji cake…bailey insisted it had to be the poop emoji from the Emoji movie. It was a big ask! For the first time in my life, my cake flopped! I used a new recipe… it had to be a chocolate cake…cos…poop! I had to bake five different cakes to get it right. And icing covers a multitude of mistakes. Mackinnon asked for a cake iced with the “Immortal Instruments” runes on in. That’s another story…
Creativity is part of what defines me as a human being, whether it is painting, bonsai, writing, icing cakes, keynote presentations or photography…it’s a box that has to be ticked. It’s also an important time for me to think creatively, which leads to creative thought in all areas.
- What’s the most expensive thing you’ve broken/lost?
[Richard] I lost a front tooth whilst playing cricket in standard four (yes I still battle to work out the grade numbers…sigh). It has been an expensive thing over all this time…and it’s still not over. Bone augmentations and false teeth don’t come cheap!
- What are you most afraid of?
[Richard] I’ve had to confront death three times now, but that’s not what I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of leaving my two girls without a father. Of not leaving them with enough to ensure they have enough. That’s the thought that pushes me to the finishline of events, and makes me so determined to overcome everything! It’s my why.
- Which book/s have made the biggest impact on you?
[Richard] Hmmmm…there are many. But most recently; “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” Mark Manson, The Genius Within” David Adam, and “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell. As you can see, all deal with the power of the mind, and how we think. It’s something I’m passionate about, and it’s a big part of my talks pertaining to the lessons I have learned from cancer.
- If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
[Richard] “without change you can have no future, only a recurring past” the only thing we have 100 % control over is what we think. We all want to be in a different place, become better people in a year from now. The only way to do that is through change, and it all starts by changing our thought patterns. It’s the key to everything really.
- What’s the most epic thing you’ve ever done?
[Richard] I’d have to say fathering my beautiful princesses! Apart from that, learning how to control my thinking. Which doesn’t mean I’m always great at it, loads of room for improvement.
- If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
[Richard] I have made so many mistakes…SO many. With some huge repercussions. Often I have seen myself as a failure, or having failed at something. But yet I wouldn’t change it, because it has all brought me to this place. I’ve grown so much and evolved. And therefore it isn’t failure. I’ve purely paid school fees. To repeat the mistakes…now that is failure!
- What is one dream you have yet to accomplish?
[Richard] ahhh… shjoe! One big dream. I have won my Ironman age group twice, been the first amateur athlete across the finish line. I have taken two slots for Ironman World Champs in Kona Hawaii, but due to life happening, haven’t made it to the race. One day. I have time. I just need to beat cancer…again.
[Richard] more importantly though, I dream of growing old with my girls