Martyn Sibley is a regular guy who happens to have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This means he cannot walk, lift anything heavier than a book or shower himself. He has experienced both societal exclusion and a feeling of inferiority. Through personal development and social entrepreneurship, he has achieved many of his personal and professional goals:
He co founded and runs his company Disability Horizons, published a book: ‘Everything is Possible’, has a Degree in Economics & a Masters in Marketing, has presented for the BBC.
He is also a blogger, and a speaker to bring awareness on disability. He drives his own adapted car, and loves adventure travels; he has flown a plane, enjoyed skiing & SCUBA diving, flying in a balloon, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s gone to Mars one day. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to what he can do, and he really lives up to the title of his book: “everything is possible”. And most of all, he has one of the most genuine smiles I’ve ever come across. And I know it can sound cheesy, but really, it struck me as something special about him: when we were in Tallinn for a few weeks at Mindvalley university, every single time I saw him, not only was he smiling, but just looking at him, I could feel this joy of being alive.
On living in a world without barriers, prejudice or discrimination; about joy, living purposefully, speaking out taboos…
- [2:16] Titles like “word changer” automatically sounds grandiose, yet Martyn really is one: He shares what was his inspiration and journey to get there. How he had to balance dreaming big, and facing the challenges of the daily life. How his disability naturally led him to develop an entrepreneur mindset: Martyn had to manage a team of carer, from the day he went to university.
- [5:32] When he decided to travel, he wanted to hit the big challenge first. He went to pretty much the other side of the world: Australia as a first trip. And again this trip (and the many others that followed) had to be prepared like a project, with his team. This lead to the idea of founding a website like Airbnb for disabled people, which was sold to Airbnb last year… From a personal need to sharing with the community.
- [10:00] “In the end, if you stick to it and you find a way, everything is possible.” When we change the questions: From “can I do that?” to “How can I do that?”. Setting an intention is the key:”When ideas tickle at you and keep tickling, you have to do it.”
- [13:17] When our situation is not in the norm, we face the challenge of being defined by our circumstance & situation. “Having a disability feels like an eternal venture of educating people. Many people who haven’t come into contact with disability, have rather strange preconceptions of what my life is like.” Martyn resisted working in the disability area; it sounded like a cliche, and he didn’t want to be totally defined by being disabled. Then he realized: “It’s my strength or superpower. My message to the world is made through that journey, and why would I want to hold that back from people?“
- [20:08] Being able to talk about everything without taboo makes it possible to find solutions. “I definitely still have abundance blocks, because I never thought when I was growing up I would be able to do certain things, because of the way the media and society generally talk about disability.”“There’s a lot of interesting dynamic around the topics of taboo, both from what the community needs or say, what the media say, and even what I kind of know I should be saying but I’m a little scared to say myself.” Openness, even clumsy (any drunken honesty episode coming to mind, anyone?), is always preferable to silence and awkwardness: “The minute someone asks a question, or says something that is kind of incorrect, then you’ve got the possibility to educate, with kindness and love.”
- [25:13] Beyond the specifics of disability, the message is universal. Sometimes you have to grow beyond the limitations the image you’re given of yourself by your environment. Health is not only physical and / or mental: We need to be physically, emotionally, in relationships, intellectually… We need all of that to feel really healthy.
- [30:42] “The world changer club”: this is not an exclusive group! “It is all of those little actions when we take the time to meet other people and to help other people. It does change the world.There is always that ripple effect which goes so far that you can never know what it achieves. It is so important that we have that in mind and we do the little things.”
- [36:10] Lessons from a burn out: “I’ve tried to tame the amount of aspiration and ambition, so that I can enjoy the things in the present moment.” “It was the balance, of learning that simple things also are important. Because when I’m on stage, or traveling or doing a new business, that’s when I really feel alive, but it also can take its toll on my health.”
Where can you find Martyn Sibley?
- Martyn’s blog: http://martynsibley.com/
- Disability horizons: http://disabilityhorizons.com/
- Martyn’s book “Everything is Possible”
- Martyn’s youtube channel