How to turn your pain into your purpose

Once upon a time, there was a young man living in regional Queensland. That young man finished his Apprentice training and became qualified as an electrician. 

On the completion of that apprenticeship, the young man could not find any work in his trade. 

You see, he had not been a great apprentice. He had not applied himself, and he had not learnt what he should have. He was 21, and he wasn’t a great listener. 

That young man finally got a job with a local contractor and was working with another electrician… when he was asked to measure something in a switchboard. 

And even though he knew better, he used a steel ruler to measure in that switchboard. 

And the switchboard blew up in his face. Leaving the young man with second degree burns on 15% of his body. His face, arms, hands, and neck were badly burnt. 

He spent 2 days in intensive care, before spending more than a month in the burns unit. Where his skin was forcibly removed ‘to encourage new skin growth’. 

The time that the young man spent in the burns unit changes his life. He re-evaluated everything. He changed his attitude and changed his life. 

Fast forward to today, and that young man is now an international motivational speaker, who shares the insights that he got in that burns unit with audiences around the world. 

That young man is a best-selling author, has a degree in psychology (and business), has spoken internationally, and is committed to helping people turn their pain into their purpose. 

Through passion and perseverance. 

And yes, I was that young man… 

Let me explain how I have turned my pain into my purpose. 

1. It is all in your mindset (upgrade) 

I am here to tell you that life sux. At times. I’m not kidding you. Lying in an intensive care unit is a scary experience. The ambulance drivers had a great discussion on the way to the intensive care unit, and they were talking about how you can die up to a few days later from a blast, because you burn from the inside out.  

Thanks for sharing, lads. 

And if that experience wasn’t bad enough, the burns unit is a whole other world.  

I won’t bore you with the gory details of what the screams were like, or what the smells were like, or what seeing horrible burns was like. Suffice it to say that it is a sad, sad, place. And the nurses need a medal. They do an amazing job. 

For me, I spent the first four weeks of my stay there wallowing in self-pity. Whinging about why life was so tough. And complaining about not being able to wipe my own butt, because I couldn’t use my hands.  

I was lucky that I spent the last week in the burns unit in an area called the high pain unit. I was in a bed next to someone who had suffered through decades of ankle and foot pain. After falling off a roof onto a pile of half bricks. They saved his feet, but the pain was excruciating. He was in hospital to have all the nerves from his feet severed, so that he couldn’t feel anything.  

I felt so much better about my life, and I realised that there are people out there way worse off than me

I was young, but I can still remember making some big decisions in the burns unit. One was not work as an Electrician for any longer than I had to. I was scared of electricity. And still am. Also, I decided to take a different approach to life and be more positive. The pre-burns Anton is a different hooman to the one you know today. I started post-burns life with an ‘energy’ that I didn’t have before. I realised I could have been killed at work, and I am going to make the most of the rest of my life!  

Mindset upgraded. 

2. Amp up your skills (upskill) 

You don’t have to work in a switchboard to ‘amp it up’ … pardon the pun. 

The challenge for me was that it is was going to be hard to be successful, or even to get off the tools, and find another career, unless I was willing to upskill.  

Which I had to. I had no choice. I didn’t want to do what I was trained in, so I had to learn a new skill set.  

If you look at my Education section on LinkedIn, you will see that the degrees, diploma, post grad diplomas, have all been achieved since the burns incident. And I continue my education to this day.  

Ask any business owner, and they will tell you that the more you learn, the more you learn. If you are an employee, the more you learn, the more you can contribute to your organisation, and the more you can climb that ladder of corporate success (if that is your thing).  

Life is a learning experience. Whether you do it passively, by going through the process or learning your job, or improving that way, or you do it actively, by seeking out ways to improve your skills and knowledge. If you want to amp up your life (sorry, there’s that pun again), you need to amp up your skill set. It really is that simple.  

3. From tragedy to triumph (uplift) 

If you know anything about second degree burns injuries, you will know that the outer layers of the skin need to be removed. Sometimes forcibly. The good news is that you get a suppository for the pain first… I still say that you feel it, and it hurts like all get out. 

And I complained.  

The nurses gave me the gift of feedback and asked me very politely to stop complaining. Which I did. But was still bitter and twisted with life at that stage. 

When I asked why they had to remove all the dead skin, they said it was to encourage new skin growth.  

And that has become a bit of a metaphor for my life.  

New growth, new life, new experiences. New approach to life. New everything. The underneath layers are the ones that count. They just need to be exposed to the world, so they can shine, and do their job, and change the world. From the tragedy of burns to the triumph of an existence that changes lives is a crazy story, but one that I love to tell! 

And this is how I turned my pain into my purpose. 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

UPGRADE your Mindset
UPSKILL your Leadership
UPLIFT your Teams

About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
Work With Anton!

Subscribe to our Newsletter