Episode 289

Published on:

29th Dec 2022

Life Lessons From Football, Coaching & Major Life Setbacks with Former Socceroo Gary Cole

Episode Summary

In this podcast, Ian and Gary discuss the effects of being in a disaster in one's life and moving on with the lessons learned from that experience.

  • The lessons and experiences you gain in life will help you develop into a more mature and accomplished person.
  • How Gary moved on from the horrific event, and how he was able to return to coaching after the tragedy.
  • How to deal with unexpected events that throw your life into disarray, and how to pick up the pieces and move on.

Heal your unresolved and unknown grief: https://www.ianhawkinscoaching.com/thegriefcode

About the Guest:

Gary Cole is a member of the Football Coaches Australia Executive Committee (ExCO). He is a former Socceroo, a great player for Heidelberg United FC, and a football leader with a wide range of experience as a leader in football at Melbourne Victory FC, Sydney FC, and Football Victoria.

His leadership experience includes specialised strategic development and implementation, project management, marketing, and operations in complex organisations.

Gary has a proven track record in football and other sporting organisations (Belgravia Leisure, Sport Australia, and Football Victoria) delivering success through good governance; delivery of organisational processes, and building high performance individuals and teams.

He also coached at the AIS with Dr. Ron Smith, was Frank Arok's Assistant Socceroos Coach, and had success coaching in the National Soccer League and the Victorian Premier League.

He was recently inducted into the Football Victoria Hall of Fame to go along with his inclusion into the Football Australia Hall of Fame.

Gary hosts ‘The Football Coaching Life’ podcast on behalf of Football Coaches Australia.

About the Host:

Ian Hawkins is the Founder and Host of The Grief Code. Dealing with grief firsthand with the passing of his father back in 2005 planted the seed in Ian to discover what personal freedom and legacy truly are. This experience was the start of his journey to healing the unresolved and unknown grief that was negatively impacting every area of his life. Leaning into his own intuition led him to leave corporate and follow his purpose of creating connections for himself and others. 

The Grief Code is a divinely guided process that enables every living person to uncover their unresolved and unknown grief and dramatically change their lives and the lives of those they love. Thousands of people have now moved from loss to light following this exact process. 

Check Me Out On:

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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ianhawkinscoaching/ 

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I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Grief Coach podcast, thank you so much for listening. 

Please share it with a friend or family member that you know would benefit from hearing it too. 

If you are truly ready to heal your unresolved or unknown grief, let's chat. Email me at info@ianhawkinscoaching.com

You can also stay connected with me by joining The Grief Code community at www.ianhawkinscoaching.com/thegriefcode and remember, so that I can help even more people to heal, please subscribe and leave a review on your favourite podcast platform.


Ian Hawkins 0:02

Are you ready, ready to release internal pain to find confidence, clarity and direction for your future, to live a life of meaning, fulfillment and contribution to trust your intuition again, but something's been holding you back. You've come to the right place. Welcome. I'm a Ian Hawkins, the host and founder of The Grief Code podcast. Together, let's heal your unresolved or unknown grief by unlocking your grief code. As you tune into each episode, you will receive insight into your own grief, how to eliminate it and what to do next. Before we start by one request. If any new insights or awareness land with you during this episode, please send me an email at info at the Ian Hawkins coaching.com and let me know what you found. I know the power of this work. I love to hear the impact these conversations have. Okay, let's get into it. Can everyone and as we record this, two days after the Socceroos have qualified for the second round the world cup. It's great timing to be recording this interview. Great man Gary Cole. How are you Gary?

Unknown Speaker 1:15

Yeah, I'm great. Thanks, man. Thanks for the invite. It's an honor to have a chat with you today. Over the moon over the moon for Ronnie and the Socceroos it's just they've got a their branding in campus is many jerseys many journeys one jersey, so the the it didn't matter when you play for the Socceroos will feel the pride of what they've just achieved. And obviously, just a bit of a big game coming up on Saturday.

Ian Hawkins 1:47

And will be this that game will have been done and dusted by time this one goes out but fingers crossed we keep proving everyone wrong and somehow knock off the argies. That'd be magnificent.

Unknown Speaker 1:59

Bring why'd you back? That's what I reckon. Yeah.

Ian Hawkins 2:03

Yeah. And for the listeners, Gary's got his soccer is jersey on there. And for those who are football fans in Australia, yeah, back and listen to the podcast episode one of the early episodes too. It's a great one. Interestingly, talking about his run ins with Argentina as well. So the timing is fantastic. All right, Gary, we didn't come here just to talk for a moment, I'm sure or more. Before we jumped on, I was talking about like how we want this to go and you've had a number of pretty big moments in your life. And I said, What was the biggest thing you started telling me? And I was blown away. So could you tell me a little bit about how that moment in with married two young kids and another one on the way you have this incident in your life? Could you share that story for us?

Unknown Speaker 2:54

Yeah, it was certainly interesting. It was a wonderful time I finished playing I've been a school teacher for 10 years and had an opportunity to go to camera at the as to as a football coach soccer coach with Marmite Rodney Smith. My daughter, my daughters were to fall and we went up and four and six when all that happened. My wife had just fallen pregnant with the daughter Rebecca and we were decided to come back to Melbourne my mum and dad got breast cancer and we started to move the family back to Melbourne and be with family. And I got a good coach my old club Heidelberg in the NSL we come gone back to Melbourne by myself rather than the girls were still in Canberra were in the process of selling the house and preseason training, drove back up to Canberra on a Friday night had a fantastic weekend with the with my wife and girls and was on the way back to Melbourne on Monday morning and my little red RX seven ended up on the wrong side of the Hume Highway still don't know why and the truck driver on tow would have done an amazing job because he managed to swerve and I hit this front right hand tire with an RX seven, I assume going about 100 kilometers now. And fortunately for me, two people on the scene were off duty cop and off duty nurse that pulled me out and I'm still I'm still here talking about it. I've got a few metal plates in the face. I had the footbrake of the RX seven went through the back of my hamstring or on the back of my but I've still got my legs, my arms. I'm still here talking about it. So we're big my upstairs clearly wasn't finished with me. But that sort of takes the wind out of the sails in more ways than one so.

Ian Hawkins 4:45

Oh yeah. And before we get into more of how that didn't impact, the overwhelming feeling I get here is deep. I mean, you mentioned the big man upstairs. Do you have a spiritual belief around those sort of things? cuz it kind of feels like when you explain this like, it's like you were protected right? This was kind of what I can't feel it

Unknown Speaker 5:07

Yeah look I don't know this this wonderful I grew up in a you know working class family in in London and on my Church of England boy and all that but you know, my family my dad when he was around was a dead set atheist so we weren't a great church going family but but over the over the journey, I've been close. And then sort of organized religion can be a bit incense, incense bells and incense and nonsense. So I've got a relationship with my big mate upstairs as I call him. And during the times in my life, and it's just helped me have someone to talk to and someone to share things with. So, yeah, I definitely believe that there's someone bigger than me that has a some sort of influence over over what goes on. I don't know how to explain it any better than that. But I'm still a when I'm out swimming in the cold water in the bay. I'm praying that I'm gonna get back in without freezing.

Ian Hawkins 6:16

Yeah, I mean, I like to believe that, you know, people who were meant to have a bigger impact in the world, which clearly you went on to do. Yeah, there are just some things that are meant to be like, Why did you end up there? Is that right? Who knows? But you know, the fact that the two people that were first there were people who were able to help you. That's probably saved your life, right?

Unknown Speaker 6:40

Oh, absolutely. And rule number one in our houses, life's not fair. Rule number two, please refer back to rule number one. It doesn't, it doesn't make any sense. And when when, you know, people can get taken from this world so early in their life kids, and you look at that, and you just go, it doesn't make any sense. But but maybe if there is if there is a sort of a plan, if there's someone out there that keeps offering forks in the road, for choices for you to make them. Maybe Maybe there's something that I had to do, or that I still got to do. And that's the reason I'm here still swinging the baton and getting an opportunity to do things like this and having a talk with you.

Ian Hawkins 7:24

Yeah, yeah. Love it. And we'll get to some of these things later. But you're still beating some some big stuff in recent years, too. So yeah, there's clearly war for you. So you mentioned the break went through your hamstring. Had you finished playing at that point?

Unknown Speaker 7:40

Well, yes, yes, I had I been playing in the NFL, my soccer is career and finished. And I was 30 and had an opportunity to go up to the IRS. And I've learned over the journey, that I'm a teacher that's at the heart of what I do. I had an opportunity to work with a very, very good friend of mine, Dr. Ron Smith, who's just one of the best coaches, teachers of players and coaches that I've ever come across. So that was a remarkable opportunity. But I did play a little bit there. And in fact, I got to meet Frank Eric, who was the soccer coach, and we went up, they invited me to help him and the, you know, we saw that he needed to make up the numbers. So because I was training every day at the IRS, I was in probably the best physical condition in my life. And we played this game and I scored a goal and practice game and afterwards, he said, you can still play. That's it. Yeah, I can still play. And at that point, he was coaching the soccer is but he was also coaching St. George Budapest and the art in itself. And he said when you when you come up and have a game in the NFL, and I said, well, thank you I can I'm working, living and working in Canberra, but Ronnie said, now get out of your system, let's just you know, so I played one practice game score to score a great goal and then essentially football Australia said Frank, you can either have him as a player at St. George or an assistant coach was Socceroos, you can't do both had no idea why. And I knew that the coaching teaching was going to be my pathway moving forward. So. So that was that was it and playing was done.

Ian Hawkins 9:18

Easy choice when you look at that future. Maybe that wasn't always the case for people, but it's proven to be the right choice. Right? Yeah. So if we come back to that, that accident, like how did that? Do you have any conscious memory of any of it? Or did you wake up at a hospital suddenly in a bad way or

Unknown Speaker 9:43

I've got this vague image back in the day. This is when cassette tapes around the world and I used to listen to a whole bunch of a whole bunch of great music, and particularly doing you know, sort of the drive from Melbourne to Canberra which I did a bit and And, and, you know, I used to lose listen to positive thinking tapes and a whole raft of things. In in my mind I have this image of changing a cassette tape. And that stretch of the of the highway was two lines, it was like one line, and then a whole bunch of the line on the other side and a bunch of dirt. And in my head, I ended up in the dirt on the left hand side of the road. And I adjust the steering of the car and take off. That's it. But I don't know whether I made that up or that is what happened. I have no recollection of the collision itself. At times, I wonder if I can remember being pulled out of the car. But again, I'm not sure. This is ugly. But the first real memory I have was I was transferred to Wodonga based hospital. It was by the time all that happened, it was it was pretty dark. And there was a doctor fussing over me and I I had that much blood, obviously coming in I sorted throughout blood, which when I returned, I don't think it was any too heavy. As you can imagine, but that's my first sort of conscious memory. And then And then, you know, life got better each day after that.

Ian Hawkins:

Do well, did you have conversations with your wife? And do you remember those conversations about like the aftermath for her like suddenly hearing that?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, we never we never really discussed what it meant. But Roz was pregnant with Rebecca, a youngest daughter. So we've got three beautiful women. Jessica is our eldest daughter, Emma, who sits in the middle and Rebecca, Who's the youngest. And we were pregnant. We were obviously moving back to Melbourne. We were partway through selling her house in Canberra. And of course, I didn't know this but you know, people looked after the kids in Canberra, people looked after Roz people drove her friends drove her to see she she walked into the the my room and sort of passed out just seeing this the state I was in. But we never really I don't recall really having you know what that might have meant for us. We we tend to be sort of glass half full, in terms of the way we look at the world. And it was like, Shit, this is really bad. Could have been an awful lot worse, but it isn't. You know it what? It isn't? Well, at this stage, it isn't worse. Because remarkably, in seven days later, I walked on crutches hobbled, out of hospital with my face wired. But I walked out of hospital seven days later. And you go, That's just unbelievable. Now what I did found out there were a whole bunch of people praying for me and back then, you know, as I said that I wasn't really into that. But I have no idea whether that impacted my recovery or not. But I walked out with a breaking one of ankles, a whole bunch of stitches in the back in a league. Three metal plates here, here and here on the face. I'm sure they took some wrinkles out through that surgery as well. And majeure wire. So talking like that and sucking chocolate thick shakes or a straw. You know, given what could happen in that sort of collision between a little red RX seven doing 100 kilometers an hour one way and a semi trailer doing 100 kilometers The other way is just remarkable.

Ian Hawkins:

Absolutely. I keep coming back to that sort of feeling. I've had other people in car accidents say that it was like it would happen in slow motion and they do kind of feel like well was yeah, like I felt protected. Given you've got no conscious memory that might be a stretch but there's there's too many unexplained things that just seemed to work out the way that they they should to for it to be coincidence for me. The recovery for you then like I'm thinking mentally that must have been like it must have been so many thoughts that went through your head like trying to remember the accident. I'm thinking was it hard to get back into the car and drive all of these different things?

Unknown Speaker:

Certainly getting back into the car when we went from I was sorry. We went from Albury Wodonga base hospital back to Melbourne where we stayed with Ross's mum and dad The kids were with us as well then we still hadn't sold the house and cameras. So we had to go back which I can't remember the exact timeline. But roses dad drove us back up to Canberra. And we went through that the area where the accident sort of dusk at night, which gave me a bit of an eerie feeling. And then I was in the backseat, I wasn't in the front seat of the car, I was in the backseat of the car. And I have to say that was one of the most uncomfortable feelings I've ever had. Just going through that place again, and, and understanding how or other our other our other family car was a sigma wagon I don't remember well as a very mean medium sized family car. And Roz's dad, who went to have a look at the RX seven, which was in the panel beaters said I would have fitted in the back at the back of the there. So it was in that moment, it was, you know, really, really bizarre. But as I said previously, I was just so grateful for what had happened. And I've never been a great one for dwelling on what the outcome. I was obviously very mindful, you know, with with two young read the third one on the way if I hadn't survived, you know, what life would have been like for others would have been would have been terrible and incredibly difficult. Ross is the teacher and you know, she, I'm sure she would have gone back to teaching in this that the other but you that bit. And I think that's part of being in this situation, you know, when I was diagnosed with cancer, you, you first thing is the possible loss, what you're going to lose, and then how you deal with that. So there weren't too many scary moments. I was, as I said, I've just started a new gig coaching. And I was I was sort of house bound for a while my jaws Jaws Wide Shut, as I said, and a couple of the players came to the house and I'm sort of talking and we were I'm trying to organize preseason training assistant coach, a young family. And yeah, we will, I guess already moving on, and the drama. Thankfully, Razi took over the, you know, the selling of the house in Canberra and got all of that stuff done as as my darling wife does. She gets stuff done incredibly well. So yeah, blessed.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah. Isn't that just typical of a sport loving male just to get to make sure you can preseason?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, yeah, that's right.

Ian Hawkins:

Priorities. So what about you girls? Like did they have much the two that were already born at that point? Did they have any conscious memory of, of any of that, or any of that?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, they will remember, it was a bit of an adventure, because all of a sudden, you know, we were back in Melbourne, and we were Nana pops place and they were there. I actually can't remember if I froze when, when they did go back, or whether whether they didn't actually go back. I can't I can't remember what happened here. But they they were they were, they were back in Melbourne. They were back. Friends. They ended up back in school. Ross's brother Rob had three kids as well. And they were they were really close. They live around the corner. So all of a sudden life and on Yeah, that. That was you know, they didn't understand how serious it could have been. And I don't think we ever had that conversation with them. But they were just back being kids playing and getting on with life. And, and that's really what we wanted to happen anyway. So

Ian Hawkins:

yeah, it's good. You touched on something there, which is that that your mind thinks about all the possible scenarios. And to me, that's one of the things around grief that that can have the reoccurring impact because we're brilliant meaning making and story making machines. And so we create all these different what ifs and what could have been and so did that. Is that something that played out for a long time? Like having those, like those repetitive thoughts around the possibilities?

Unknown Speaker:

No, I honestly don't think so. It made me one. One of the things that kept coming to me was on my journey up until that point, I'd had a couple of good friends that that like me escaped that had near misses with heart attacks and another medical things and for all of us, your life changes in an instant. And, you know, there's a rehab So she had to go through one of my, my close friends out, was a really big human being. And he was totally been played basketball as a man, but put on a lot of weight. And, and, you know, he had a heart attack. And as a consequence of that, he changed his diet, he got focused, he had one young child at that stage, and they were on the way for two. And he started to walk and exercise. And he, he changed as another friend did it in another instance. But the, the further you get away from the date that this incident happened, I found that, you know, it, lost focus and, and if you're not focused on the changes that you want to make, then it's very easy to slip back. And in the case of my good mate, Miguel, the 25 kilos that he lost went back on, and unfortunately, yet another massive heart attack that ended up taking him away from the family. And so, you know, it's those things that, that really well, you make the changes, you're conscious of the changes, but then life goes on, particularly when you're, you know, I'm lucky, now we're retired, our kids are grown up, and we get to do things very differently, our mortgage is paid off. But when you're in that middle part of your life, when you're growing a family, you're paying a mortgage, you've probably got a job that you may or may not love that you're doing because it pays you well enough to pay the mortgage and feed your family. Getting your priorities as you call them sorted out, you know what's important. I think that's integral to it as well. And what I have learned is, it's a lot easier to talk about than it is to do.

Ian Hawkins:

Absolutely. Yeah, the priorities piece is so important. And particularly when you talk about work, right, when when you face with moments like that, the reality of of the situation is the most important thing is your health and also your family. Because there's you look at all the possibilities of loss. And to me, I think back to when young young fellow that I was managing in the workplace, and then a fair bit to do with his growth, and then he and then he suddenly passes away was that same feeling, I'm sitting there just going, none of that matters. Like none of that work, stuff matters. What matters is the things that are dearest to our heart. And that's to me, that's the of course, loss is horrible. But there's always something positive that can come out of it. And to me, it's that those reminders, so I want to come back to what you said about making the changes and staying focused on it. But I just wanted to come back at we'll come back to that in a minute because I wanted to talk about what you were talking about before is around. Okay, well, if that's the change in your priorities, was it a real moment of looking at life completely differently? In terms of okay, well, I've got a second chance here, or Okay, well, what do I need to do differently from your perspective?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, yeah, well, it was certainly a time to be thankful. Surprise, surprise, we did start to go to church more more regularly and get a bit more around the bills and smells and incense and nonsense. So that became a real thankful thing. As I said, I I don't ever remember not being positive. And I wish I wish i i think that's because of the home I grew up grew up in, in and around the parents. But I'm not sure because we never actually really discussed it. All I do know is my parents loved me. And, you know, they moved from the UK to Australia for a better life for their family. And they always wanted the best for us and told us we could do everything we can. So I don't know whether that you know, glass half full nature is something that you're born with, or you can grasp. I do know that people that don't have it. And a glass half empty life is is incredibly more difficult for them. Because they spent so much time in stress and worry and all of that stuff. So the good news for me is that whilst I was I had the image of what could have been, it was about okay, well, this has happened. What what do we do? Yep, we're a young family. We're selling the house. We're moving back to Melbourne because of course, Mum was was going through her own cancer at that stage kids back to school. We dealt with all of the stuff and we were Getting on, we were getting on with life. You know, I, it was clear, you know, if I'd have been if I'd have been, instead of being a Monday morning, it'd been a Saturday night. And I'd been on the Terps. And it contributed in some way because of what was going on, you know, but I was fortunate that that, that wasn't the case, either. It was, it was just this thing that happened. Nothing really, I can change about the thing apart from Hey, if you're driving an RX seven down the highway Number one, don't be playing with cassettes, when the third line is nice and close, you know, take the learning with you. But but but it really didn't. Well, maybe there's a better question for my wife, I'm gonna say, I don't think it really impacted who I was, as a person. I was thankful, I was grateful. And I was now going to move on and, and if, if my big may upstairs have kept me around for a reason, then I'm gonna go and find it by doing being the best version of me that I can in, you know, what's laid out. And that was obviously coaching. And I eventually stumbled into the leisure industry.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah, I love that. And ultimately, when we go through these moments of grief, that's, that's essentially the best we can control the most is just being the best version of myself. So I love that outlook. You mentioned something there around, you know, your parents brought you out here. To me, this is one of the beautiful parts of Australian culture, and particularly football, is that how many of what we know, right? And Australian football, how important the people that have come from all over the world have been to the growth of football, but also how much they've contributed in terms of giving back creating these communities, that the players, the coaches, it's the whole way through. And I think about how many people came here for a better life. And of course, you're gonna have more of that positivity. Like, my wife's parents are both 10 pound palms, that desire to for things to be better. I think about my friends who have come here, who've not them, but their family lineage have come from around the world, and they've all got that drive to to make something better and improve things. And to me, that's just such a great part of, of yeah, like I said, of this country. And I don't know what your thoughts are on that. But to me, it's just a it's a it's one of the Yeah, the magic parts of Australia and football.

Unknown Speaker:

Oh, absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more. It's part of that rich, multicultural tapestry that makes Australia what it is, you know, the, I've often said, you know, the, there are great games in Sydney and Victoria, AFL and NRL and, you know, they often have a multicultural round or something like that. But my game has a multicultural. Every weekend, you walk into any game, you know, and there's a smell of Upchurch going along or there's different music in the background, there's my club Heidelberg, you know, the Greeks have this relationship with God that just makes them the best, the best people to cook lamb in the world. It's just, it's just this, this this marriage made in heaven there. And you if you, if I close my eyes, I can walk into a football ground and I can get the that the smell and the aromas of that rich Monterey, cultural tapestry. That's, that just makes Australia you know, what a wonderful place. And and I think when you do that, if you move halfway around the world for a better life for your family, it's not hard to understand how so many of those people have arrived here and, and gone on to have fantastic lives and made significant contribution to Australian culture and history. Yeah, because that's what they came here to do. You know, that they didn't need the motivation to do it that they were they were they moved here, or their parents moved them here to to do that. So probably not surprising.

Ian Hawkins:

That Absolutely. I'm also like, drawn to the part of sport, which is, you know, some people don't don't see the value in sport, but the the element there and it unites people and unites communities that it allows crossover crossovers of communities and, and yes, football may have had some different challenges in the past around where that might have boiled over, but there's absolutely no denying how that brings people together. And I imagine you would have seen a fair bit of that. You mentioned, you're at the AIA s. And Ron Smith and I imagined him and your contribution to this had a major positive impact on and what we call the golden generation and Australian football too.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, I was I was Obviously, in Canberra for four years, so my impact was minimal compared to the IRS as a whole. And Ron Ronnie, and what he did the as Australian Institute of Sport was the best football finishing school, arguably in the world. It you can't say it made all of these players, but it certainly helped finish. And they got they got offered a scholarship to come in because they had talent. They, they were often good physically, but their technique was good, the way they played, the game was good. And the IRS offered him an opportunity because Ron is still one of the best students for the game. So his, his basic premise was we're going to bring these we're going to bring these kids in, and we want to help them develop the behaviors that the best players in the world have. And he watched football that way. And he's still doing it today. So records every game at the World Cup. He still in the 70s. He's analyzing all the games with today's his life's a bit easier, because he's not stopping and starting the video, he's got analysis software, which is helped develop as well. And he's still looking at how goals are scored, because that's how you win games or football. But, you know, it was It wasn't about playing 442 It wasn't about systems, it was about what are the behaviors, what the what are the best players doing? Well, I was 30. And I arrived, I was retired from playing football. And I learn more about what the best strikers in the world do in the years between 33 When I was at the AAAs, studying and coaching the game than I did in the first city is, you know, it's just just remarkable. Amazing. And so that's what these these young men did that they they got these skills, and amazingly, they went from a country that is a minnow, you know, was more of a minnow in world football back then. But they were they had the character and attributes that made them attractive to NSL clubs are senior players, but so many of them, you know, just went straight to clubs overseas. And particularly that gold generation who of course, were were playing at some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah, and again, even more remarkable of the achievement of the of the current team given that if you compare the two lists, like we were talking about before, we jumped on and recorded those, those plays from that to that and six squad were playing all through Europe in the biggest League. The other thing that I was thinking there, when you you're talking about that is that the the ARS was right rounding them off, as you sort of described, but so much of that came from that background as well. Where we're football was something that was in the home. It was something that that started from a young age it was it was nurtured. It was encouraged, lay their community, they all went to the game together. And again, I know we've we've kind of been through some, some changes there in football, Australia, but that that's some of some of the value of all of those communities has been lost a bit of the transition as well. The other guy has been on this podcast on buyer, I'm not sure if you're familiar with him. I've become

Unknown Speaker:

a good friend of Tom. At home. I just love it.

Ian Hawkins:

He's a great man. He'd be he would be over the moon this morning as Japan have also qualified for the second phase. I mean, you believe they're beating Spain they beat in Germany incredible. Market. Yeah, so good. Anyway, enough, enough football talk. I'm getting a bit lost in my passion.

Unknown Speaker:

Sorry, I'm a distractor.

Ian Hawkins:

I love it. You talk there about something really important for people. When they've experienced a setback loss, grief, however you want to put it, you said then it makes you think I kind of got to make changes. And because if I look at my own journeys, like I didn't know how to make the changes, I didn't have any guidance on making the changes but eventually you find your way. But it's the it's actually the keeping those changes sustainable, which you identified as key. And you talked about your your mate there that unfortunately that that didn't unfold for him, but what were the key changes for you? What needed to change for you to make sure that you could be the best version of yourself?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, I think at the time, I was reading a lot of leadership, positive thinking motivational stuff. I'd never been one for writing down goals. And I did go I did go through a period where I would I would do all that but But I just knew that there was more, there was more to be done. And that, I guess I was a project. So I was certainly a long way off being the perfect husband, the long off being the perfect father. But I was then going to strive to be the best kind of dad and husband that I could, and understand that along the journey, it wouldn't be great if life was linear. But you know, that I was gonna, I was gonna make mistakes and, and move on. And that came from investing in me. And I've said that to people, you know, so often that it's a wise man once said, this is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is and I tell you don't touch the fire, because it will burn you. You touch the fire, and immediately you have wisdom. And there's a significant difference between the two. So you know, we life, life doesn't always give us mentors. Unfortunate that life did for me and Rodney Smith, but he was a football mentor and our own the way that also includes leadership. But, you know, I never had a conversation with Ronnie about how to be a better husband or a better dad. He was a good role model. But I didn't have that conversation. But if I had any questions or queries in football, I was on the end of the phone. I don't recall having any, if I'd have asked my dad, you know, what, what's it like to be a good daddy, he wouldn't have been comfortable answering that question. But I could, I could learn from what it was to be a good father. By looking at it, he was a great role model, you know, he never missed the day work sick in his life. He decided to move his family to Australia New Era with 100 pounds in his pocket, you know, they hadn't, they had nothing apart from a dream, the vision for the, for the future what they wanted to do. He was always there. You know, we, my parents were married when they were 18. I was born when they were 20. So my parents were good friends as well. And remarkably, I got to play football with my dad, when we first moved out here to Australia for for a season, which was, which was great. So I'm sort of waffling there, but I invested in me in in terms of, you know, I think I've already had that positive attitude. But it got better. I understood the importance of learning, which made sense to me, because I, you know, I work out through all this, that at the heart of who I am, it's a teacher. You know, I was a, I was a primary school teacher for 10 years, but then I became a coach run through, Ron Smith tricked me into becoming a coach. And I did that for a fair while and then I went off into the business world, and you know, you develop the knowledge, which becomes wisdom, and you then take other people under your wing, and you know, that that's still fortunately for me happening today, there, I still get phone calls from people that want to pick my brains about something. And I love that. Absolutely. That stuff makes your ego feel good. You know, it's wonderful in life to maintain relationship and connection. And it's great to be able to think you can still help people. So I think that, that, that, for me was probably the most significant thing. And then, you know, you just get reminders of how precious life is. And for me, you know, that was that was been diagnosed with cancer, and you go, geez, this is I couldn't help it. But think on all the things I wasn't going to see if this. If this doesn't work out, then my girls are already grown up. But that growing up hasn't finished. We don't have grandchildren yet. None of them are married yet. We've got partnerships and all that and the immediate thing was all of the last one I'm not going to be able to see what we're going to lose through this process. And that just flies Okay, well in that if you ever needed a reason to keep on living, then then that's it. There's no guarantees that any of those things are going to happen but you know, when when you when you come from the world of high performance or that sort of attitude, and you see the oncologist and they say okay, you need to do this this and there's some I don't I don't have a problem that you told me what fixes this and I'm gonna do it. You know how Hi, Hi, do you want me to jump coach on through the hoops? I'm doing everything I can because life's precious. My family precious, and then all of a sudden, this wide focus, again, comes back to what's the key view. And the key for me was my family and my health. And everything outside of that is peripheral. And anything that wants to get in the way of that now needs to go through a serious checking mechanism. But I also understand that unfortunate because I'm the age I am, we don't have a mortgage anymore. And those sorts of things. So

Ian Hawkins:

you said before we jumped on, I've got a dentist appointment, we probably won't talk for two hours, but it was because I got it written about five questions. Now, I'm just now I'm just waffling. But now that's that's where the magic comes out. You talk there a lot about the role modeling. So your Ron Smith as a football mentor will mentor. But he's also so much more than that, because of the certainty and the confidence that that he instills in you. As the parent, the best thing we can do is be the role model to like, we know they they take so much more from what we do and what we say to them. Because it's some sort of key messages there that I took out of that is it been that role model, investing yourself and continuing to learn, I finished uni teaching as well. And I just said, I'm not, I'm not reading another book, I'm not doing any more training on weather. And that's because it was like, hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone to uni because I was pretty done with that whole, that whole framework, but that just stunted my growth because I stopped reading or stop learning. And it's only when you bring those things back into your world that everything changes. So I love that you've highlighted those things. As you said, in the sporting environment, those things are crucial. We have to, we have to continue to learn, we have to continue to invest in ourselves. And I love the point you made there, we have to have a reason for living. Now I watched my mother in law go through cancer, and she talked about the same thing about I want to be here to see my children get married, and have children and I'm going to be okay, I'm like that that positive element has such a powerful impact. What I also know is that the people that was most difficult for was not the person going through it. But was everyone on the periphery? Is that something that you would relate to as well?

Unknown Speaker:

Absolutely. You know, the the first thing happens is all of a sudden people you've not heard from from ever, you try and reach out some of them ring you some of them send you a text. And it's almost like you hear from someone that someone's got cancels, there's something going on in their life, and maybe they're not going to be around much longer and they go, oh shit, he's a decent bloke, I'm gonna ring him and wish him well. And you know, which brings you to another thing about how important is to keep catching up and people over the journey otherwise you end up catching up with with bloody funerals and that sort of stuff. So now I've gone off track what's sorry, and

Ian Hawkins:

impacting on the other people in your world?

Unknown Speaker:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. That one of the things that I saw when my mom 30 years ago, I had cancer they, my sister Karen and I had grown up, we'd moved out, they'd moved down to the coast. Down here by the bay, Mel and dad built a they bought a two bedroom house to lock up stage and then build it out. They didn't they did a fantastic job. And they had these really close group of fan friends. But when and remember these the days before mobile phones and text messages, this was the day or you know, you either picked up a telephone, or you went around and knocked on someone's door. They had this these group of people that were they were incredibly close to but when mom was diagnosed with cancer, they lost contact with half of them. And what I what I've learned through my own journey is that's because people just don't know what to say. And when you're on the receiving end, you go you know what I had a call from, from Kevin musket who's done a fantastic job. We met a lot as a coach when he was when he was a baby, essentially. But you know, he's just won the championship by Canons pasta Cago did in Japan with the Oklahoma FC menos. And the fine went one day and it's it's musky, and he was so uncomfortable because he just didn't know what to say. He wanted to tell me that, you know, he loved me and hoped that I was going to be okay. But he just he fumbled and fumbled around and I said, muskie, it's okay man. There isn't, there isn't right words to say here, the best thing you've done is actually pick up the phone, send a message, let people know that you care. And that is the most significant thing that you can do. And that was exciting. Being slightly another phone. And then we talked about footy and sort of life went on. But that, for me is the is the thing that people just, you know, we don't get coached, there's no coaching on how to handle grief personally, there's no coaching on how do you deal with people that are going through really, really tough times. And you I think it's part of that whole learning that the importance of building relationships, and communication are the keys that hold any life team family together.

Ian Hawkins:

My experience has been the same, that the conversation around loss specially in those early days is so challenging, and I mean, even our own experience, so I saw you're on your own podcast, which we'll talk about later the football coaching life and, and you're interviewing the great man, Harry Gill, and I'm like, Oh, wow, like, fascinating story. I'd love just all I'll reach out. And then unfortunately, you went through one of those moments. Like, well, we're we're having those conversations. And I imagine for you, I know it's pretty raw. So we don't have to sort of stick with this part of the conversation. But imagine those sort of same patterns would have shown up in the recent passing of your father as well.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, look, it was a it was a Charcot amazingly I got diagnosed with cancer and then I've always been close as I said, we were we were friends as well as father and son and, and he moved about my sister Karen has been gearing family live in Ballarat. And after mum passed away, he sold up and a few years later, he ended up moving to Ballarat as well. So he's been there. We caught up regularly. But not every day or anything like that. They I get diagnosed with cancer. He's now ringing me every day. So every day we're having a phone call. And we're talking everyday predominantly about the weather as you do definitely about football. He was a he was a Melbourne City fan and obviously all tied up to Melbourne Victory. He loved the Socceroos. He loved the Matilda's. We had, we had all those conversations, then I go into remission, and he gets diagnosed with lung cancer. And now I'm calling him every day. And he's went on for for a couple of years. So you're when you're having those conversations, I still turn around and go, I have not run back today. And he passed away months ago now, you know, but but the habit of having in there and being there is is just remarkable and so sudden, for me personally, it was a blessing in the way that it happened in because it had intense words that it had a good ings, he saw and obviously the treatment of cancer has changed since my mum had breast cancer where initially she survived the surgery. But then the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy nearly killed her because it was really, really savage. And the remarkable people, doctors and nurses, researchers that do this stuff. Now, apart from losing the hair. That was my side effects of going through cancer but because of mom, even though dad had seen me because of his memories of him nursing moms or all that he wasn't going to have. Chemotherapy just wouldn't do that. So it he went through this whole this whole process. But his fear was that he would sort of waste away. And the blessing if there is a blessing in losing your dad was that he had a heart attack and it happened really, really quickly. So So for Dad, you know, I was really happy that when he went that was the way he went and it was quick and it was simple. And he didn't go through all that horrible stuff that he'd been tinkering around. Yeah.

Ian Hawkins:

Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Gary. I really appreciate that. The the key thing that I pulled out of that was making sure you have regular conversations with the important people in your world. And don't wait till funerals to then talk about how amazing they were like like your old man give the radio and and he made sure he shared that I think it's a reminder don't wait till people are sick. Don't wait till till it's too late, like have those conversations and have them read Really, because it means so much to people. I don't know if you've been there at funerals, and you're hearing the wonderful things and you're going, and I would have been great. If they were there to hear that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker:

absolutely. Yeah, we I don't know whether it's a part of the way we're brought up it, certainly the world's more emotionally Cognizant now that I can remember. As an adult, the first time I told my dad, I loved him, and I reached out and gave him a hug. And it was like hugging the local concrete. Because, you know, men of his era, they might have told the Deaf women, they loved them occasionally. But they certainly didn't tell other men, they loved them, you know, that was just to do and, and it, you know, the next time we caught up, I did the same then I started to tell him, I loved him over the phone. And, and eventually, you know, he went from hugging a lump of concrete that adding this big, soft, cuddly dad that I remember as a as a young child, and he couldn't, he couldn't leave me them without telling me how much he loved me and and given me a hug as well. So people are special, I think the one of the nice things that's happening in this crazy world that we live in is that people are have become more accustomed to telling people that they love them. And that can be, you know, sometimes a superficial thing, but but it can also just mean hey, I really respect you and what you're doing and your place and importance in the life. And there's this this sort of once two people say it's like, there's a there's a calmness in the room. We appreciate one another.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah. It's, yeah, the energy of those words is so powerful. So why would we not share more of that sort of energy around? You touched on something else there that is really important. I know, particularly for men, I know a lot of men listen to this podcast. Women, I'm sure as well. But just like the current state of affairs for men, is getting that validation. Yes, there's an ego part of it. But it's important for us to know that we're on the right path, that we're doing the right thing that the people have got our back. And they're supporting us on that journey. Because you think it how much of society continues to scream at us that you're doing that wrong, that you can't do that anymore? Like all these things that are so hardwired for for our life, because we had fathers, like you described where this was the pattern. It's important to have that encouragement, whether it's football or life, right?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah. And stay in touch and reach out to people not Not, not everyone, you know, I'm not, this is not something that I do lightly. I'm not, I'm not telling people that I don't love I love them. It's just pointless. When when you go to these, I'm going to call it the life defining moment, you know, who the people that are important to you? Are the friends that really important to you? Invest in them, you know, I don't know, as much as you invest in I was about as much as you invest in your family, maybe not but but that it doesn't have to be this huge, huge group. And that's the problem. You know, I one of the massive problems with Facebook, you know, and social media, everyone's got hundreds and 1000s of people they like and it's that now in the end, you don't know any of these people who you know, who do you really care about? Who do you know, really cares about you?

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah, I guess like on LinkedIn that it's their superficial connections until they become something more meaningful. And yeah, we can't book gum. Just something about the the num, the number of facts you can actually give, but you can't get out all over the place.

Unknown Speaker:

Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah.

Ian Hawkins:

You'd mentioned positive thinking cassettes. Now, I mentioned before I had this big gap in my learning and I stopped learning but once I started again, it was like that was the same thing for me was that go to have learning positive messages? What's it called? Auto University, right? Every time you're in the car, you're putting something on to learn your mind. And I imagine people listening to this would be a number of them that would do the same right? Which is great. Was there a go to person you'd like to listen to or a particular potluck? Was there one that you listened to again and again, that had a profound impact for you?

Unknown Speaker:

I was I was a great Zig Ziglar fan and I just loved the way he delivered the message. I think because I'm I've worked out that I'm a teacher and a coach. I love people that have capacity of making the complex simple. And anyone that's got really simple and profound messages. That was it. You know, he's obviously got, and he's not around anymore. But that 20 American accident that sometimes drives me mad. But yeah, I just I just love to go over either rounds of his stuff that I use all the time.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah, you think how many people have have graduated from his school, whether it was listening to cassettes or, or reading like he's had a massive impact for me, it was like another 20 American accent, Jim Rohn. Like, listen to his stuff again and again, and I'd pass it on to people they go, I just can't do that accent. For me. It was messages that I needed to hear. Yeah. And at the time, I remember hearing that message. When the when the student is ready, the teacher will appear and Jim Rohn literally turned up the next day. And so true, right? There's those people that we feel like we know them, because we just listen to them again and again. Absolutely. You mentioned that you went on this this journey. You said you've retired and then you got you had to have heart surgery, lung cancer anyway. He's retired killing me. So tell us a little bit about that. About that journey. We've gone back to work now to make sure that you'll be healthy.

Unknown Speaker:

Well, well, yeah. I I, I I've been in the world of high performance football help work with knob of victory and, and then left no victory at a stint with Sydney FC and come back and stumbled back into the leisure industry because I spent 20 years in the leisure industry, managing swimming pools and golf courses and all that stuff. And eventually I went, you know what I think it's, I think it's time to financially, we're okay, I think it's time to sort of relax, because I really wasn't enjoying it. And that was a good signal for me that do it. So I know that I then get sort of sucked back into football, which is obviously a love and a passion and opportunity there to help did that for a year. And then I'm like, No, I think I think I'm done. So after thinking I'm done. It's summertime rosin, I'm a wife, we're sleeping in, we're drinking coffee, we're going for walks, we're exercising, and then all of a sudden, it's one o'clock in the afternoon, and you go, how do we have we ever find time for work. And I go for my checkup my cardiologist, I was born with a bicuspid aorta. So hopefully, and you've got an aorta that's got three flaps that overlap. And that's the valve I was born. I found out when I was at Melbourne Victory with a bicuspid valve and knew that at some point, it would, it would sort of be wearing out and would need replacing. So I didn't realize it would be at that time because I felt as fit and healthy as I had I was and and life was good. And the cardiologist is now we need to, we need to get that replaced. So walked in and the surgeon did a fantastic job. And the operation went fantastically well or we having a chest cracked open is a is an interesting piece when you wake up and you've got more wires and tubes in here than you can ever hope to see sticking in a human being. But I get through that I get back into the gym, I'm working out I'm really really healthy again. Now I've got a pain in my back. And being a bloke, I would sort of put that off for a while I'm like I was just you know, I'm cranking up the workload, it's gonna be like that. And then ended up being diagnosed with lymphoma. And we started that journey. But having been through all that, Jesus, these significant health moments have come because I've never retired. So that's far too dangerous. So on LinkedIn, on LinkedIn, I changed my profile to that I was lead consultant consultant at Gary Cole consulting, and understanding fully that a consultant is someone that's got a laptop and a briefcase, and he's probably unemployed. So that's been my profile, essentially, for a couple of years, which has been good because we don't have any really ongoing customers. But I was encouraged into football coaches Australia, three years ago, and that has been absolutely you know, one of my absolute joys, to help football coaches because I understand what an important job that is. If you want better players, we need better coaches. And within that, in the midst of COVID and we came up with the idea of the football coaching life to tell the story of Australia's men and women that coach our team so yeah, I've worked out definitely been retired is friggin dangerous. So

Ian Hawkins:

yeah, so good. To me, what you're doing now is just a In a perfect environment for the journey you've just described to help other coaches about not just their coaching but their story their life. You talked about you mentioned the word that tapestry is such a rich tapestry to your story and yes, it's so powerful I would it would be wrong of me not to mention these things before we go. You're doing this you know in some part time stuff with football Australia now, your Australian Football Hall of Famer which again, what a huge honor to have you here, and 40 caps for Australia 20 goals, or there wouldn't be too many Australian strikers to have a record that that got a goal every two games.

Unknown Speaker:

Now, I will confess that seven of those that happened in one game in a World Cup qualifier down here in Melbourne against Fiji, which stood as a as a world world record for a long time until May or May, Archie Thompson managed to score 13 against American Samoa and and knock me off. So now I'm really proud of my contribution to the Socceroos. This is obviously we're at World Cup now and aren't in the team are going to play against Argentina for a spot in the final eight on the weekend, which is just so proud of that. This is 100 years of the Soccer is the first game was in 1922 against New Zealand, Dunedin so it's been a great year of celebration. So my life in and around the soccer is an Australian football as has meant the world to me. And yeah, go to soccer have.

Ian Hawkins:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, hopefully like I said that. When this goes out, we'll might have like a quarterfinal. Dare I say semi final to,

Unknown Speaker:

to clear. Wouldn't that

Ian Hawkins:

be great? would be? Well, we'll, we'll we'll send out good vibes about that. And we'll hope for the best. Gary, thank you for sharing your stories. Stories are openly some of all of those different things I'm sure. Particularly most recent, challenging to talk about. So thank you. But also hopefully for you therapeutic. I know it definitely is for the listeners to hear the journey and how you come out the other side. So thank you, Gary, I really appreciate it. Me.

Unknown Speaker:

No thanks. And I appreciate you asking me on it's it's always humbling to tell your story. And thank you for the work you're doing. You know, grief is your if you're a group that says the Grief Code, maybe you're the grief coach, it's a very personal thing. This was this is ridiculous has been going around my head, I was watching a TV show the other day. So this was just pure drama. And this, this, like, son, son lost a child and they go to a funeral and the mother or the child is grieving. And the wise man amongst them. He's like, I need to go over and share in the grief you go. You can't do that. You can't share grief. You can you know, you can support grief, but you can't. You can't share it because it's such a personal thing. But what you're doing, I think is giving people an insight that we just don't talk about. So. So congratulations, Mike. Keep up great work.

Ian Hawkins:

Thank you appreciate it. Yeah, for me, it's Yeah, absolutely. Because we can never know what someone's going through. But if we can lighten the load for them in some way, then it's impactful. And I know people like yourself sharing their story, not only lightens the load for you and for me, but also for everyone listening to that. Thank

Unknown Speaker:

you. Thanks, man. Been good talking to you.

Ian Hawkins:

I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Grief Code podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please share it with a friend or family member that you know would benefit from hearing it too. If you are truly ready to heal your unresolved or unknown grief. Let's chat. Email me at info at Ian Hawkins coaching.com You can also stay connected with me by joining the Grief Code community at Ian Hawkins coaching.com forward slash The Grief Code and remember, so that I can help even more people to heal. Please subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform

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About the Podcast

The Grief Code
Heal Your Unresolved and Unknown Grief
The Grief Code podcast looks at grief from a very different perspective than what you have heard anywhere else. As you tune into each episode, you will receive insight into your own grief, how to eliminate it and what to do next. The host and Founder of The Grief Code, Ian Hawkins, specialises in helping you to heal your unresolved and unknown grief. Ian will take you down the rabbit hole of The Grief Code to see that there is life after grief and that it can be more magnificent than you possibly imagined. You’ll discover what true fulfilment feels like and be the inspiration the world is looking for.

About your host

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Ian Hawkins

Ian Hawkins is the Founder and Host of The Grief Code. Dealing with grief firsthand with the passing of his father back in 2005 planted the seed in Ian to discover what personal freedom and legacy truly is. This experience was the start of his journey to heal the unresolved and unknown grief that were negatively impacting every area of his life. Leaning into his own intuition led him to leave corporate and follow his purpose of creating connection for himself and others.

The Grief Code is a divinely guided process that enables every living person to uncover their unresolved and unknown grief and dramatically change their life and the lives of those they love. Thousands of people have now moved from loss to light following this exact process.