Gina London: What steps are you ready to take to change your life?
Today I want to introduce you to 'The Creekman'. With hundreds of thousands of followers The Creekman is one of the hottest emerging influencers on Instagram.
A quick browse of his posts immediately presents you with impressive photos of a fit, muscular, bearded man made even more striking by his body being completely covered in artistic black and white tattoos.
But what you won't immediately see is what's most important for our purposes here at 'The Communicator' column.
And that is, that the Kevin Creekman who appears today - is only possible because of his inspiring back-story of personal responsibility and determination.
Those traits, which you can develop and apply to help you in work and life, my friends, are our focus.
The Creekman is not the Norse god Thor come to life. Actually, he lives in Germany, as Kevin wrote to me during our email interview this week, where he is a social worker and musician.
He also told me he has a fond memory of travelling to Ireland as a child. "I remember all those beautiful green hills and a very special and tasty breakfast."
Despite that happy time visiting Ireland, and perhaps due in part to the admission that he was "a hungry kid", Kevin's childhood was also marked by extreme obesity.
"I was always overweight. My family was resigned to it. At some point, my mother said she knew I would never be a normal weight. So, I believed that too and accepted it as my fate and future."
1 How do you see yourself today?
Let's stop right there. Think about that. What do you currently accept as your "fate and future"? Why? Is it because someone may have said something negative to you?
Observations - either formal or possibly just in passing - from people who are important to us like a colleague, a boss, a friend or a family member can make an inordinately powerful impact toward framing the way we see ourselves.
During his formative years, Kevin says he had no real friends. Instead, he immersed himself in the virtual world of video games.
"The biggest thing lacking in my life had always been acceptance, appreciation or maybe just one simple word, 'love'."
Finally, as he was set to turn 18, he described a turning point.
2 What's your turning point?
"I knew my life wouldn't change by itself. And if I didn't change, I would probably continue to suppress my needs with food and video games. I would die without love. I had to make one of two decisions: 'Give up on yourself or change'!"
Kevin resolved to try another diet, but this time combine it with a new level of determination. "After losing my first 10kg, I knew I had the power to really change. Every kilo I lost was like putting more fuel into my engine. I became obsessed about losing weight day after day."
3 Who motivates you the best? You
Through a strict regime of diet and exercise, Kevin went on to lose 80kg or half his body weight in a year. When I asked Kevin who had been his cheerleader during this intense time, I was surprised to read his response that he "didn't have much support".
But after giving this some consideration, I think we can all agree that you are the only person who truly understands you and knows what your career or lifetime goals and aspirations are. You can't solely depend upon your HR department, your management team, your family or even - dare I say it - your executive coach to see you through. Any personal or professional dreams you may have, must start with you.
So, what are your goals? Where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Getting a trusted mentor or coach will help as they can provide guidance and recommendations, but the responsibility ultimately lies with you.
4 You can change!
After Kevin reached his weight-loss goal, the skin around his stomach and back was incredibly loose. He opted for surgery to remove the excess.
Next, as he was already fully tattooed on his arms by this point, he decided that dramatically covering the rest of his body with tattoo art would cover his surgery scars and make a bold statement at the same time.
You may never go for a full-body tattoo, but is there a step toward change that you are boldly ready to take? Do you believe in yourself enough to take it?
In addition to being determined, Kevin credits his new-found success in weight loss and life to being positive and motivating - to himself. He shares his outlook on his Instagram feed, taking time to respond and encourage each and every one of his thousands of followers who post comments.
"I am through and through optimism-driven. I often like to say optimism is my religion. I think optimism is the most important mindset to be a happy and successful person," Kevin wrote to me.
So, don't just take it from me, take it from my new friend, Kevin, aka The Creekman: "You have a lot of power in your hands if you really want to achieve!"
And, of course, those hands of yours don't even have to be tattooed.
Check out The Creekman on Instagram at instagram.com/thecreekman/?hl=en
Write to Gina care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon
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