You have the power to take control of your life
by J. Paul Nadeau
We are limitless. The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. We’re stronger than we think, but finding that strength is left up to each of us, and some would rather hostage themselves to negative thoughts and outlooks, than to move out of their comfort zones and take control of their lives. Choosing often takes courage, and courage leads to victory.
We can all learn a great deal from the words of a wise man in a wheelchair who was once asked by a curious youngster, “How does it feel to be confined to a wheelchair?”, to which the man answered, “Son, this wheelchair does not confine me, it liberates me.”
Yes, it’s our choice to respond to whatever adversities or setbacks that come our way, in whichever way we choose. It’s not so much what happens to us that matters – it’s how we respond to what happens to us that does. Once we are faced with sad and the ugly things that often happen to us in our lives, it’s up to us to make the best of it. When I cast my mind back to my upbringing and my life overall, I recognize the times when I was hostage to factors that set me desperately searching for rescue. Rescue implied to me that an outside force, a person or persons, would appear to help me out of my unhappy circumstances. But no one appeared. No rescue was at hand. I could have sat on the rock of my solitude until I was a very old man, awaiting some nameless, faceless rescue party like someone lost in the wilderness. But when I realized that the wilderness was a landscape of my own making—and of my own mind—I began to feel a strong impetus to take action to get out of the uncomfortable place in which I had somehow landed. That rescue, I eventually concluded, could only come from within myself.
I can personally attest to that, even later in life, having lost much, so quickly, so unexpectedly.
You see, in 2010, I retired from the police service after serving 31 years. I'd had an amazing career and worked as a detective, a hostage negotiator and even a peacekeeper during the Iraqi war in 2005, where my life was saved by a terrorist. Yes, you read that correctly, but that’s a story for another time.
I reached the decision to retire from police work to pursue an acting career in film and television that I had quite unexpectedly stumbled into. My wife at the time supported my decision, and as much as it was tough to turn in my badge after such a rewarding career, I looked forward to this new opportunity. But life happens, and sometimes it smacks us right upside the head when we least expect it. An unexpected divorce forced me to readjust my path. It knocked the wind out of me in more ways than one. My once secure retirement income was no longer so secure. In fact, it pretty much vanished. I found myself having to take a government contract job for 1 1/2 years to make ends meet, but once the contract ended, I then found myself without work for the first time in decades, and acting wasn’t a full-time job and it sure wasn’t going to pay the bills. In many ways, I had to re-invent myself, but I do believe that sometimes things don’t happen “to” us as much as they happen “for” us.
In 2013, a self-made millionaire/businessman invited me to lunch after reading my profile on LinkedIn. He suggested that I write a book based on my unique career experiences in policing but I tucked the idea aside at first, having heard it before. But then two other people that week said the same. I'd never planned on writing a book but, finding myself without work with time on my hands, I decided I'd give it a shot. Why not? I figured the universe was sending me a message the universe had knocked on my door three times that week. So, I picked up a book on how to write a book… Silly me, I only read the first forty pages and thought I knew how to write it. Two years later, I had some good words on paper, but what I had didn’t resemble a book whatsoever. I should've read the rest of the book on how to write a book, especially the directions on creating chapters and sub-chapters. Six months of hard editing for an inexperienced book writer finally made it look like an actual book. “Hostage to Myself,” now “Take Control of Your Life” - my book on how to deal with self-sabotage, anxiety, depression and adversity was born. I self-published, and as fate would have it, an editorial director for HarperCollins Canada ordered a copy and invited me for coffee in 2017 on my birthday where he announced that HarperCollins Canada wanted to publish my book worldwide. Sometimes the unexpected happens.
For instance, in 2015, right before I completed writing my book, a wonderful woman, and now dear friend, who also came across my profile on LinkedIn, invited me to speak at a business event on the topic of negotiating. I was happy to do so. Following that event, we chatted about some of my peacekeeping experiences in the Middle East. The story of how my life was saved by a terrorist peaked her interest and she suggested I apply to give a Ted talk based on that story and the message I'd learned on that fateful day. Again, not being one to overlook opportunities, I happily applied and was selected. In October 2015, I gave my Ted talk at the Toronto TEDx event and was the closing speaker. I received a standing ovation for that talk and immediately following that talk, a new life direction had presented itself to me and I am now a keynote and motivational speaker.
There's more, but the purpose for writing this article is not to talk solely about myself. No. The purpose of this article is to remind each and every one who reads it that you are all limitless. Despite whatever setbacks or adversity comes your way, never give up or lose hope. Listen to the universe because it speaks softly sometimes and in ways you might not understand at first. If no opportunities exist, create them. Take risks, try new things; fail you may, but get back up. Victory goes to the ones who fall but get back up. If it doesn’t work out, try again. Try often. There is no failure when you try. The ones who never give up are the ones who win.
Don't self-sabotage yourself by telling yourself you can't do or achieve what you're after. Because you can. Change your state of mind and change your world. Take action and try new things. I, for one, don't want to be visited on my death bed by the ghosts of missed opportunities reminding me I should have tried. Do you? For me, I'm moving forward and there's so much more to be done. How about you?
About J. Paul Nadeau:
Author of Take Control of Your Life, J. Paul Nadeau has spent more than thirty one years working with victims and perpetrators, as well as learning from top experts in abuse situations, murder investigations, hostage-takings, terrorist attacks and studying human behaviour in general. He has received the highest recommendations from the International Peace Keeping Brand, United Nations, The Office of the Independent Police Review Director, among many others. In 2005, Paul successfully negotiated a suspected terrorist off a 747 in Paris, France, without incident or injury to passengers & crew. He is now a regular consultant for CNN, CBC World News, The National, Global News, CP24, The Star and other news media services for his Hostage Negotiations, International Peace Keeping and Terrorists expertise.