The short answer to that question: EVERYTHING!
Ask yourself: “If I did not have a name, how could I identify myself? If I had no name, who would I be?”
Your name is extremely important. Your name is your life! It is how you identify yourself. It is how others identify you.
Sometimes we don’t recognize the powerful influence of a name and what went into how we were named in the first place.
Nigel is Scandinavian for champion but additionally people named Nigel often have a deep inner desire for travel and adventure, and want to set their own pace in life without being governed by tradition.
If you know Nigel J. Wall you will understand how well aligned he is with the meaning of his name.
He is an ultra-distance runner, cyclist, Ironman tri-athlete, kayaker, multi-sport athlete musician, leadership coach, facilitator, motivational speaker, author, photographer, glider pilot, boat captain and entrepreneur.
Very early on in his life’s journey Nigel was heavily influenced and inspired by his Grandfather Arthur, to do great things. Arthur wasn’t a talker either! He was an amazing architect, got involved in antique restoration, played golf and was an avid stamp collector.
Nigel remembers being intrigued as his grandfather went from hobby to hobby, interest to interest, with an overarching desire to be the best he could be. At 80 Arthur got his History degree and went on to write a book, two years later!
He was also guided by his father David who was the catalyst for him entering the Aerospace industry as a designer and analyst. David was also the person who introduced Nigel to long distance hiking and sailing so as a young lad, he hiked for over forty miles across the Yorkshire moors, learned to sail, and subsequently learned to fly.
Nigel was encouraged by these influencers not to look to routine, but instead to seek adventure.
When Nigel got to about 30-35 years old he realized that most of the people around him were living very limited lives compared to what he was doing even though at the time he didn’t consider his adventures “big stuff”. At 33 he was already a glider pilot and he didn’t know of anyone else who had done that in as short a time as he had.
In 2007 when he came back from his first ultra marathon in South Africa, where he’d run 56 miles in 9 hours 37 minutes he didn’t realize the magnitude of what he’d done until he returned to what he now called home, Trinidad and Tobago, having moved there from the United Kingdom, the country of his birth, in 2003.
The Trinidad Guardian did a 2 page interview, and he even got fan mail including one from world record holder Ato Boldon!
Nigel’s thought at the time was “that was pretty big what I did” yet he didn’t just think of it in the context of it being a huge achievement. Instead he examined what led him to do it in the first place.
“I had a strong, burning desire to do it, there was a process and I reasoned that if I followed the process and then took action, I would get what I was after.”
This was both an “aha moment” and turning point for this man of extreme action.
Looking back at some of the stuff he’d done, he realized that most people didn’t get to do that and so he decided to integrate his own “learning through experience” into his coaching and leadership programs.
A father of three, and Grandpa to five, he’s learning from his kids, grandkids and coachees. He began observing changes in the behaviour of those who interacted with him. Several people left their jobs and started their own businesses; many became 5k runners or ran marathons including his daughter Anna. “Many people decided to become triathletes”, Wall said, “as they followed my lead, learned to swim, bought a bike and did it”.
Often he’d hear people say “it was because of you.”
Feeling better for it, he finally understood that this was “purpose” stuff – it was what brought him fulfilment – it was what he was destined to do.
Nigel is often ticked off by some things he might occasionally hear or read about on social media especially if he hears this encouragement: “Stick with it; it will work out in the end.”
No it won’t! If you keep doing what you’re doing, you won’t get different results. You must be prepared to do things differently or do different things.
Nigel spends much of his days coaching others in the art of goal setting and personal success. He has however, had to develop the ability to sometimes say “no” to people who want his time but don’t necessarily deserve it. It frees him up to do things that are important to him.
This doesn’t mean that he says no to every request. Usually on a gut feel, Nigel would meet with professionals for a coffee, to answer questions or guide them through a process, where they arrive at their own answers.
He never, ever, ever GIVES advice. “It’s not my job to give advice. It’s my job to get people to open their eyes and do the things most important to them.”
Nigel is first to admit, he’s not perfect, though many may put him on a pedestal because of his achievements.
He often has to wrestle with the monster called distraction and sometimes needs the guidance of his own coach, to keep him on track. Often a quick run in his neighbourhood clears his mind, and allows him to return to his project, refreshed and refocused. If he doesn’t have the time to go exercise, he revisits his goals and reminds himself why he’s doing what he’s doing.
Nigel is not above laughing at his own guilty pleasure. “I coach people to turn off the TV yet I find myself sometimes rushing home to watch Netflix,” he laughs. “It’s true” he says “but I usually do it after doing the stuff I need to do.”
If he could put up a billboard with any message it would be his signature “Live, Life, Now.”
When he was still in University, a one pound fifty, used book, changed his life. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. It caused him to think about limitations. He went from a B and C student to being the second person in a class of a 100 to graduate with a first class honors Engineering degree.
That book caused him to shift from thinking that to graduate at the top of his class was impossible to thinking, “Why should I settle? I could do this.” He applied what he learned, worked hard and succeeded.
He encourages everyone to invest in themselves regardless of age. Nigel walks his talk of course, having recently invested $15,000 USD to learn from the infamous John C. Maxwell, the art of presenting, speaking effectively and influencing from the stage.
Nigel’s most recent adventure took him across the transatlantic, sailing into Cape Verde after six seven days at sea. “It can feel as if you’ve gone to hell and back after sailing for six to seven hundred nautical miles, not seeing land, hardly sleeping, with huge waves attacking. Heading to St. Lucia sailing for another 15 days after that experience was both ridiculous and sublime.”
Only when you’ve actually done something, do you ever get the lesson. The world is huge and there’s lots to see, but sometimes it can be scary as shit! “Being in that boat challenged me because there is no such thing as “routine” in a boat except for : I have to eat at these three times otherwise I’ll run out of energy; I need a bit of social time; I’ll sleep when I can, relax when I can….it changed my entire outlook of twenty-four hours.”
Nigel is adamant that he’s not just chasing stuff. He keeps challenging himself however and will probably never stop choosing daring adventurers over quietly desperate activities.
He encourages all of us to use him as a role model. See him for who he is – an ordinary guy, choosing to do different things, some more challenging than others.
When you think of the name Nigel J. Wall think that regardless of your age, you can live your life now. You don’t have to wait. It’s never too late for you to embrace the attitude of “Let’s do this!” and most of all live intentionally and ask yourself this one question right now: “What do you like most about what you’ve read about Nigel’s story and what are you going to do differently based on what you’ve learned”
**If you would like to share your story or know of someone whose story you think should be shared then send me an email here