When you’re experiencing hardships in your life, sometimes it’s hard to become your best self and believe there will be better days. International bestselling author, motivational speaker, trainer, and coach Gina Gardiner had to run a school as a school principal from a wheelchair. She lost some of her mobility when she had a skiing accident that tweaked a nerve in her brain. Gina was determined that her decreasing mobility was not going to impact the quality of education, development, and experience for the children. Everything you do is a choice, even not choosing is a choice, and every choice has consequences. She says instead of focusing on what you couldn’t do, you should choose to focus on the things you are able to do to be your best self because what you believe about yourself is going to define the quality of your life and the life of those that you come into contract with.
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How To Become Your Best Self with Gina Gardiner
I came across Gina Gardiner through her bestselling book, Thriving Not Surviving: The 5 Secret Pathways to Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment. As I heard her story I realized she is truly a Heartrepreneur and had to join the show. Gina is a multiple number one international bestselling author. She’s a motivational speaker, a trainer, a coach. She’s got well over 30 years’ experience of helping people achieve both happiness and success. She’s worked with couples and the individuals to develop a greater sense of self-worth, the competence to challenge and change limiting beliefs in order to become more loving towards themselves and others. Gina is passionate about helping her clients achieve their full potential to become genuinely their best self. She has experienced some incredible challenges and setbacks and she understands how difficult it can be to pick yourself up and start again. I am so excited to have her here. Welcome to the show, Gina Gardiner.
Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to being on it.
I read a little bit your story and I went, “You have to be on the show.” Why don’t you start with your story so people can get a sense of who you are?
I started teaching when I was 21 and for the first time in my life, I found something that I love to do. Prior to that, I’d had quite unhappy teenage time, but teaching for me was finding myself. I was promoted very quickly. I became a deputy principal when I was 28. I was told not to apply because they wanted to appoint a man. This is 1980, 1979 and they got away with those things in those days. I went ahead, and I got the job and I’d been appointed to be the catalyst for change. For the first year, I worked very hard with the principal to get things moving. I was the youngest on staff and it got to the summer holidays and things were tricky. I was very pleased to get there, but it’s one of those situations where you get to the holidays and you feel tired. We were going skiing and so went off. I went skiing with some friends and we went to
St. Anton in Austria. I had new skis for Christmas. In those days, the fashion for skis were as long as you can them and I had an extra ten centimeters, which I proceeded to wrap around my neck with regularity. I had a bad fall on the Thursday and decided on the Friday I was going to ski by myself and gather myself and gain confidence.
Met the group of friends I was with at lunchtime and they said, “We found this wonderful rum come with us,” and so off we went. It was a beautiful day. One of those very special days where the air is crisp and the sun is shining brightly. It’s very cold but everything seems to be as if it’s glistening. Then we got to the top of the stair lift and they directed us in a particular direction. We turned the corner and there was the Schindlergrat, which is the most difficult black run in St Anton. It’s about 600 or 700 feet down, lots of moguls. For those of you who don’t know what a mogul is, it’s where the snow has been carved out by the wind and you get these bumps and they can be a couple of inches, but these were between five and six feet. The whole slope was littered with them. I’ve seen black runs before, but I had to take a deep breath and gather myself.
I made a mistake of leaving it too long to turn because kept on thinking, “I’ll keep going parallel.” I fell out twenty minutes to gather my ski together and I finally ski down to where my friends was sitting, each on the mogul having a quick break. I sat on the mogul. I didn’t have my skis on and suddenly the mogul gave way, the sun had melted the ice on the top, and I started to fall. I’m told I fell about 150 to 200 feet. Fortunately knocked myself out because I would have done a lot more damage if I hadn’t. Eventually they ski to me, I have no idea how long I didn’t want to have the blood wagon. I was convinced that I could see that down and manage to get back to the hotel, but felt very peculiar.
We traveled back the next day. I was living with my parents at the time. My mom took one look at me and she marched me off to the local accident and emergency department who said I got concussion and I tweaked a nerve in my neck. I went off to school on a Monday, wasn’t making much sense. There are those that would say no change there. Over the next few days, I gathered myself. Four weeks later, I was deputy ski leader on a ski party with 150 schoolchildren. As the week went on, I became more and more like Quasimodo. On the last day, I had to give in and I went to lie on the top bunk, which is where I’m sleeping. I suddenly found that I was paralyzed down on one side. I didn’t want to frighten the children, so I waited until somebody came. Then all hell broke loose, and I was carted off to the local hospital. In a sense, life has never been the same.
For several years after this happened, medics were looking for why. Although I regained the power in my right-hand side why my mobility was deteriorating, and I was not doing very well. Effectively, I did school and then came home and slept. The first summer holiday, very sadly, the principal died, not expected. He just died in his sleep, and I became the principal. One of the things that may turn into it is that I was going to run the school that my decreasing mobility was not going to impact on the quality of education for the children and the quality of development and experience. I was the head for twenty years there and one of the huge gifts that came out of the disability and most of the time I ran the school from a wheelchair.
One of the huge gifts that came out was developing a way of helping empower people rather than telling people what to do all the time. Getting them to understand the concept of excellence in the context of the organization. Then making sure they had good training and monitoring and evaluation and feedback. The testimony that was that successful is that my school was on the best hundred schools in England. I would like to think that I would’ve had the same leadership, the likelihood is had I been able to get into all of my classrooms and interfere, I probably would have been a very different head. The principles that I developed to lead in that way to make sure that my disability didn’t define me. The principles and strategies that I use with other people are actually the bedrock of the work that I do now. It’s all about everything you do as a choice, even not choosing is a choice and every choice has consequences. I could have chosen to focus on my disability, on what I couldn’t do. There were times I had two failed back surgeries where for example, if somebody hadn’t left me a cup, I couldn’t make a cup of coffee. I chose to go to school and be able rather than to focus on disability. That’s a huge gift.
First, I have to thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and being so transparent. It’s interesting because whether we have an illness or disability, whatever it is, very often and people don’t know this until they’ve experienced it since I’ve also experienced a neurological disease that’s changed my life completely. I look at it the way you do. Sometimes these are gifts that changes the way we approach life, and in your case that changed the way you approach life and the way that you now have learned to develop leadership and to help other people. I want to honor you for not letting this disability define you and for moving forward with full ability. You said something so profound Gina and I want to remind the listeners of this, that everything is a choice and not choosing is also a choice with consequences. That is brilliant language. If there’s one thing, one short sentence or two that you want the audience to take away from your story, what do you want them to leave with?
What you believe in, what you believe about yourself is going to define the quality of your life and the life of those that you come into contract with. If you believe that you’re not good enough, you’re not rich enough, you haven’t gotten enough time, that you’re not enough, that will be your reality. If you stopped believing yourself and recognize that you are the most amazing piece of machinery, you don’t have to say, “Breathe,” in order to breathe. Your cells reproduce and you have a mind and you’re creative. I would say to you, start to question those beliefs that keep you small because actually you’ve made them up or it’s coming from something someone said. Believe in yourself. Believe you can succeed. Believe you can be happy and it’s going to be much easier. If we believe you’re going to fail, you believe you’re no good, that will become your reality.
Where can we get a copy of Thriving Not Surviving: The 5 Secret Pathways to Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment
You can find it on my website, which is Genuinely-You.com. It’s on Amazon, it’s on Kindle, it’s on most of the electronic book platforms as well. If you can’t find it on those, go to the website Genuinely-You.com and there are also lots of other resources there available for the listeners. They’d like to go and visit.
I want to sit here one more time and honor you. Acknowledge you for taking someone on such a spiral and change their lives in such a negative way to take what happened. To figure out how to transform that and to move on in such a glorious way. I can tell you would be an amazing role model for others. I encourage any listener, whether you have a struggle with beliefs or another struggle in your life to reach out to Gina.
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It’s on Facebook too, same address or you can actually sign it with my name, Gina Gardner. You could find me on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. I’d love to connect with your listeners. If they’ve got questions I can help. Please do contact me and we’ll be only too happy to.
I can tell. Thank you and I call people like you that word that I have is heartrepreneur. It’s someone who is authentic, transparent, and in integrity and serves others. Even the name Genuinely You resonates and I can tell how big of a heart you have. Thank you so much for being a guest here on Heartrepreneur Radio. I take my hat off to you and I’m so delighted that we’ve made a connection.
Thank you very much for inviting me over to the show. It’s been a real pleasure. I wish you and your audience the very best of everything.
- Gina Gardiner
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About Gina Gardner
Gina Gardiner is a Two-Time #1 International Best Selling author, Motivational speaker, Empowerment Coach, Transformational Leadership Trainer NLP Master Practitioner and Coach with well over 30 years experience of helping people achieve happiness and success. She has supported many, many individuals and couples to develop a greater sense of self–worth, the confidence to challenge and change limiting beliefs in order to become more loving towards themselves and others. She is passionate about helping her clients to achieve their full potential – to become genuinely their best self.Gina learned to walk twice as an adult whilst running an award-winning school, for the most part from a wheelchair. The gift of this experience was the development of a unique approach to life and developing leadership. She left Headship in 2004 and since then has worked with countless individuals and couples helping them to learn the lessons from their past in order to achieve happiness and fulfilment.