Nothing is Impossible: Realizing Your True Power

Oliver, tom 2Our guest today is sitting looking at the Mediterranean in Monaco, between Monaco and Cannes right this minute. He is Tom Oliver, the author of the book Nothing is Impossible. While that’s a wonderful catch-phrase that we all want to believe, Oliver contends that both in the moment, during and after an inspirational presentation or the reading of a good book on a topic, we might believe it to be true. Then the everyday reality sets in like we all know. We run errands, we go to work, we keep up with all of our distractions. Once again we put our dreams on hold telling ourselves that we will get to them later, or perhaps, that we will never achieve them.

Tom Oliver is a business leader, a global social entrepreneur and philanthropist and visionary who has worked with some of the world’s leading figures including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu as well as CEOs of several Fortune 500 Companies throughout the world. He is a highly demanded global keynote speaker on the topics of creativity & innovation, entrepreneurship, managing teams and Global Corporate Citizenship.

Tom is also the founder of the World Peace Foundation, the global Leadership Circle at Manchester Business School in the UK, lifelong member of the Committee of 100 for Tibet, lifelong creative member of the Club of Budapest and Member of the GPC.

His book Nothing is Impossible: 7 Steps to Realize Your True Power and Maximize Your Results is an extraordinary new road map for success. Tom — a motivational self-made entrepreneur and coach to many of the world’s most notable CEOs, philanthropists, and entertainers — shows you how to dramatically alter your life path. He has shared his extraordinary secrets with Bono, Richard Branson, the Dalai Lama, and Deepak Chopra who calls him “an extraordinary leader.”

Dr. Relly Nadler: Who are some of the key influential people who have led you to where you are today.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely, and that is a great question. Like most of our listeners I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was raised in a small town in Germany, grew up in a very average middle class family that didn’t have a big name or any connection or a trust fund, for that matter. I had the fortune to get to a place in my life where I interact with world leaders, heads of state, world-famous artists, luminaries and business renegades.

Honestly, all of them have inspired me. I have worked with some of the world leaders that you have mentioned and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and also business renegades like Richard Branson. I’d have to say on a personal level, probably Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have inspired my philanthropic causes. What impressed me most is how they kept a great sense of humor and what I would call a lightness of being about everything they are doing even in spite of great adversity and tremendous obstacles and challenges they have to face.

On a business level, definitely Richard Branson; he has inspired so many of us. He is a role model for different generations. I think this is because he is an individual who recommends that we name our strengths to clearly define a vision of where we want to go and not let any obstacle, naysayers, or challenges get in our way.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s really huge. Those are folks that everybody knows and who have certainly been very inspiring to you. Just looking at the free chapter that you had in your book; turning our personal challenges into assets. It’s probably worthwhile just to hear some of the things that you have gone through which we can all relate to growing up. Maybe talk a little bit about that; some of the things that you have in your book.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely, and I would love to share a personal story with our listeners, if I may.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I think that is always good. It let’s us know a little bit about you and how you have overcome obstacles to get to where you are today.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely. All of our listeners have faced challenges and obstacles to some extent in their lives. When I grew up I was actually a heavy stutterer. So I could not get a word out in class and it started when I was five years old and stayed with me all the way up to when I was about 17-18 years old. It really occupied a great portion of my young life. This was a tremendous obstacle and challenge.

I was a very good student despite that problem, but I also faced a lot of physical challenges and impediments. For instance I had involuntary body spasms, I had nervous ticks, and twitching of the eyes and the face and so on. So all of this together with stuttering obviously didn’t make growing up any easier, especially when you are a child, a teen; if you have difficulties like that you got bullied at school and so on. Couple this with ADHD and you are in a rough spot.

Then, when I got a scholarship when I was sixteen to go to an American boarding school in Connecticut, suddenly my life started to change. Why, because sports was on the agenda every afternoon. That was something new. I grew up in Germany and sports was not part of the core curriculum every single day. After about a year or two I started to seem better and I connected the dots. I had been hyperactive all my life but nobody had realized it. So what I did was suppress my energy instead of expressing my energy which is a problem a lot of others must face. As well, we spend tremendous energy trying to be normal and to fit in; to conform to the status quo instead of living our own unique personal energy.

This was a turning point in my life. Together with a lot of other realizations and at some point because of the interaction with some of the world leaders we mentioned, I think that this is actually a universal principle Relly, that behind any major obstacle or impediment there is a gift, a blessing in disguise. But, we have to be willing to look that way to discover the underlying positive energy behind that impediment or obstacle.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That story is very touching. I had one of my best friends who was a stutterer growing up. For anyone on the listener side, aside from the speaker side, there is so much empathy that goes out with that. You mentioned even how, in your book, while watching the King’s Speech that all of the sudden you said I don’t want to even listen to it because it brings up the past which you obviously have surpassed.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely. It amazes me. I actually watched The King’s Speech on my way to China on the plane. I was invited by the Chinese government to give a keynote at the largest cultural conference in China. Now I speak five languages fluently and I’m a celebrated global keynote speaker. Friends who know me today who didn’t know me back then cannot possibly imagine how I could have ever been in such difficulty.

Sometimes I look back and the boy inside of me is amazed at all of the victories that I’ve been able to accomplish and the challenges that I have been able to overcome. Again, it’s a universal principle and it’s really something that resonates with all of us. Why? Because we all face tremendous challenges at some point in our lives. It’s how we cope with these challenges that is the key factor.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So tell me what you gained from that. We all have a variety of things in our lives. I think often, my background is a psychologist, as I work in corporations we often try to keep things hidden. Carl Young has this great expression of things being in the shadow and it’s something you don’t want to look at because it’s some kind of weakness. But if you take that out and you shine light on it, all of the sudden it kind of dissipates and it’s never as bad as we think it is. Share some of the insight that you have had. How do you get over whatever the challenge may be?

Tom Oliver: Right, you are completely correct. At some point we all face tremendous challenges, not just in our ordinary lives or in the corporate world, but especially when we are going for our highest dream. Our personal vision of what our ideal life would look like of nothing was impossible and everything went according to plan. But, as we pointed out, our challenges can be of tremendous use to all of us no matter who we are, no matter where we are. We have to ask ourselves what are the gifts behind the challenges we face and if we look closely we can discover that these greatest challenges are assets and opportunities in disguise, but we have to be willing to look that way and apply that thinking.

If someone came to me and said I’m facing tremendous challenges here. I don’t know how to turn them around and how turn them into victory and overcome them. I would sit down with him and I would have him write a number of different possibilities or opportunities that could come out of this situation. I would have him brainstorm and write this down. Then after a few days I would have him sit down again, address that list and then try to put some of them into action; try them on for size and really look at the problem or the challenge with a completely different mindset. How could they actually be a major asset instead of being the elephant in my life; the ugly stone in my shoe? If you apply that way of thinking you can really turn things around and turn any challenge into victory.

Dr. Relly Nadler: To kind of highlight what you were just saying:

  1. Take the problem out of the shadow and look at it because we want to put it back in the closet.
  2. Ask different questions and then stay with it. We all may ask a question for a moment but we don’t stay with it. Where is the opportunity? What is the strength? How can I use this?
  3. Then ponder those questions almost like letting it go into the unconscious for a while and then return back to it to see what other things that can be possible.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely, and this will cause you to almost recalibrate your brain and rewire the way you are thinking so that you approach challenges or major obstacles with a different mindset. Different in terms of the way that we were brought up to think and different from the way we are taught to think. This will really be the key that will unlock not only hidden talents you never thought you had, such as in my case, but unlock the door to a wealth of hidden opportunities.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We know from brain neuroscience from those we have interviewed; when you think about how you change your brain, we think it’s complex but it’s pretty simple. You highlighted it. It’s with attention and focus. Attend differently and focus differently and all of the sudden you start taking that different turn, like you were saying, and different neural pathways.

Tom Oliver: Absolutely. We always place the bar to high, Relly. We always think that there is so much that we have to do but when we look at it and when we look at some of the success principles or the secrets behind the world’s top achievers, they really try to focus on the smallest step that will produce kind of a long lasting result that we want to see. Then they put these smaller steps into action.

Dr. Relly Nadler: What would you say are the four tips for success?

Tom Oliver: That’s a great question.

  1. Clearly define your destination. This is true if you are a CEO of a multi-national corporation already or a high school dropout. I always recommend to my clients to do this writing and review it daily.
  2. Embrace ourselves and our unique energy. That means that we have to learn to trust our own energy just like I had to trust my energy growing up because then we can really do wonderful and very constructive things with it. We have to learn to go with the flow of our being. This also means that we have to let go of perfectionism and discover what we love and are most passionate about and do best. This also means that we have to trust our “fun” and that “fun” will actually produce the best results.
  3. Learn how to harness what I would call our creative power and get into states of peak performance. I call this the “zone.”
  4. We have to find the right partner not only in our personal lives but especially in our professional lives whether it’s the right company, the right team, or the right partner to start a new business with.

If we take these four things to heart and put them into action, nothing is impossible.

If you’d like to listen to the complete interview with Tom Oliver and get inspired, you can listen to it without commercials, above.


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