My name is Andrew Sillitoe. I am a performance coach, author and business psychologist. And this, is my story.
The smell of freshly baked bread brings me right back to my childhood. Long before the Great British Bake Off became a national obsession, I grew to love everything to do with baking. It ran in the family. As the son of a baker, I dreamed of taking over the family business from my dad, just as he had taken over from his father years before. Cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, pies - there can be few happier environments in which a child can grow up. But my dad had other ideas. He sold the business in favour of starting a construction company. At 11-years-old, the dream baking career I’d mapped out in my head was wrenched from me.
The disappointment subsided when my dad’s new venture, building luxury homes, began to boom. We had a big house, enjoyed regular holidays and could indulge in my dad’s new passion - classic cars. A beautiful baby blue Jaguar E-Type was even used by my mum on the school run. At first it seemed that Dad’s hard work and risk had really paid off, but the skills that had allowed the bakery to thrive didn’t translate into the world of construction, especially when the 80s financial crisis reared its ugly head. Eventually, like an overcooked loaf, things began to crumble.
Rocky V was on the TV on the evening of Sunday, March 21st, 1993. The reason I remember it so vividly will soon become clear. As I was gripped to the boxing exploits of Rocky Balboa, my dad entered the room. “Come and give your dad a hug” he said. “No”, came the reply. He asked me three times, and each time I gave the same answer. “No”. He went to bed.
That would be the last time I’d ever see him. At 48-years-old, Dad died of a heart attack. I was 16.
I’ll never forget that evening, or the feeling the next morning upon hearing the news. I may not have realised this for years - in fact the running joke in my family was ‘the only thing Dad left Andrew was his gout’ - but my father’s death, and his life, shaped the way I’d view and face my own time on this earth. His determination to live life to the full ensured that I would try to follow that same outlook, while his early death imbued in me a determination to help others to follow a purposeful path. Consider that there’s a 20% greater chance of dying of a heart attack in the early hours of a Monday morning due to stress, anxiety and fear of facing work. No one should ever feel that way about their work, or life.
But my story is not simply shaped by the actions of my father. Those of my mum have also played a significant part. For when I was nine years old, it was her idea to give me a hockey stick as a birthday present. Whether she knew it or not, this maternal instinct proved the catalyst to 25 years of competing at the elite level of Roller Hockey. As well as representing Team GB in 11 World Championships, I went on to coach the side to promotion in 2011.
Without these sporting achievements I would not have gone on to my accomplishments in business. As a certified performance coach, author and business psychologist, I now find myself speaking all over the world and advising leaders from FTSE 100 companies.
If my father taught me one thing, it’s that living a life with purpose is far more important than working on something you don’t love just to survive, make money and then die. My mother’s gift taught me the pleasure - and success - that can derive from following your passion. Because of them, I aim to live with purpose, and to measure wealth not by financial goals but by the number of lives positively impacted.
Now, at 42, I’m healthier, stronger and leaner than when I was 22. What’s more, my businesses are thriving. Which is probably why you’re here.
If you’re reading this wondering how you can join the hundreds of business leaders who have become happier, healthier, more resilient and more profitable through my Get Fit To Win approach, including the 4 Keys of Business, Body, Relationships and Mindset, then the good news is my commitment to changing lives for the better means there’s plenty room for you to join me on this journey.
You’ve got one shot at this life, so make sure you live it to your full potential. Don’t fill it with regrets, cram it with purpose. Be the best version of yourself.
Only you can do that. But I can help you along the way. Take the first step - get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or by email.