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An inspirational evening

I had a great evening last night, when we celebrated the people in Leeds who have successfully addressed their addictions this year.

I was in the audience at the first Forward Leeds Recovery Graduation which was held at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds.

There were so many people getting congratulated and graduating and so many rounds of applause, that my hands ached!

Each individual graduation from addiction to recovery is a fantastic achievement for our service users as well as for the staff and volunteers in our Forward Leeds services who support them.

Jamie Peacock MBE, a local sporting legend, gave a really great motivational speech to our audience at the end.

He talked about the three beliefs or principles he adopted during his successful career as captain and leader from the front of some of the great modern Rugby League teams.

And he recommended them to our graduates in recovery…

Belief Number One - There are positive and negative people in this world. Surround yourself with the positive influences.

Jamie described how at a difficult time in his career, he received two letters from supporters. One really negative and one really positive. He took his inspiration from the positive letter.

For me, it’s clear there is a lot of negativity around us. But when you actually take stock, there is much more positive feedback and many more people who want you to do well.

My current role as Chief Executive at Humankind, is the first job I have had where I felt fully supported and trusted by my colleagues. This is a special place to work and this is what many staff fed back in our staff survey.

Belief Number Two - You have to have self-discipline to achieve what you want to do. Not discipline to do what others want you to do but discipline to achieve what you want to do.

There is a subtle difference between development and practice imposed on you or in what you feel you should do and what you really want to do to achieve your best.

Jamie spoke about the practices imposed on him and his teammates and taking these disciplines on for himself. For him, this included stretches, ice baths and even eating broccoli for breakfast.

It's only later in middle age, that I have started to appreciate this. But I recognise, for me, it is always a work in progress. I will never have broccoli for breakfast, though!

Belief number Three - It's ok to doubt yourself and have nerves but you have to have self-belief.  The main person stopping you doing what you can, is you.

Jamie talked about key moments in his career when he was stopping himself taking opportunities and was having too much self-doubt and how he overcame these and how he manages self-doubt. Listening to someone really successful who has self-doubt reminds you it’s normal.  The only person stopping you taking opportunities is you.

I found listening to Jamie speak very inspirational. But the real magic there last night came from the people who have overcome significant challenges to become drug and alcohol free and by doing so were already practising these core beliefs.