This next interview is a custom made follow-up to my previous with the illustrious Billy (Biketruck) Ward. Kate Tojeiro who reluctantly referred to herself as a biker when asked, is most certainly, (as you will read) a consummate off-road biker! Inspired by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and their off-road, motorbike adventures and instructed by Billy Ward, Kate took on an awesome challenge. It involved a motorbike and a mountain!
This is what I admire and appreciate most about Kate Tojeiro! She took what could easily have been an ‘agony of defeat’ moment and made it her own ‘thrill of victory.’ This is in fact, what Kate does on a day-to-day basis. She has met with and learned from some real movers and shakers. Kate Tojeiro acquired the alchemy of turning adversity into Art and graciously shares it with all. Her current book: The Art of Possible; new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action, (Black Mustang Press 2015) is a definite ‘must read.’ It’s for all the dreamers who have ever questioned if their passions could become reality.
There is so much to gain from my interview with Kate. I know that it will speak to each reader and to the singular point of where he or she is on the journey of personal discovery. Enjoy my fellow roadsters!
Merci beaucoup to Kate who shared her time, knowledge and wisdom with me. It was an honor.
B.D. I like to begin all my interviews with the same deep question; what did you want to be when you were ten-years old?
B.D. How did you get interested in the motivational field? And to follow-up; there are so many who fancy themselves life coaches but have no real education or experience (other than life!) to offer. How do you feel about this field opening up with the advancement of self-publishing and YouTube platforms? Is this dangerous?
K.T. I think it is something that I have always been interested in or maybe initially I was intrigued or maybe even captivated by those that would push past difficulty and / or hardship to achievement and success. They were an inspiration which may have echoes to a challenging childhood of my own. The power of someone’s words that can serve to uplift or diminish us in equal capacity is palpable.
The real turning point came when 16 years ago I was at a conference where small technology companies with great ideas were pitching to investors and VCs to get investments to fund their growth and aspiration. I met Sergey Brin, (co-founder of Google which was at that time two servers in a garage). It was fascinating to observe those that delivered a great pitch and succeeded and those that didn’t. Sometimes those that didn’t succeed had a good product or idea, but they just weren’t compelling or prepared enough for the pitch. The interest in this dynamic piqued my curiosity and just a few weeks later I met an Executive Coach at a dinner party. I questioned her extensively and the following week signed up for a training course in executive coaching.
The field opening up with the advancement of self-publishing and YouTube platforms is not dangerous per se, however, sometimes people may be looking for an ‘easy fix’ and life changes don’t occur overnight. The biggest concern is that if people have a real mental health challenge or depression, they do need to see a doctor or CBT therapist or someone who is trained in that specific field– something that as a coach you are trained to look out for.
Many things play a part in personal development; positive thinking, mindfulness, being in the moment and a great deal of hard work and deliberate practice, action and effort and the odd failure or disaster along the way. If dialogues and conversations are beginning about how people feel and what they want to achieve, for whatever reason, I think that can only be a good thing. Our emotional well-being and mental health is so important and that it is currently in the spotlight at the moment is a great thing. Very often it starts with the small step of a conversation with someone who we trust or listening to someone on YouTube or other platform or a vlog or blog.
The only time it is perhaps dangerous or of concern is when someone articulates something which is perhaps very difficult or emotional for them, and then if there is no support network or safety net, that can be very a hard place to be if there is no means of help or support.
YouTube and books, alongside face-to-face conversation with a trusted other are a great place to start when wanting to develop and move forward.
B.D. Your book; "THE ART OF POSSIBLE - new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action," sounds as if it was extremely intense to research and write! How did you get interested in neuroscience and connect it with your work?
K.T. Being my first book, The Art of Possible was quite intense to research and write, my daughters and husband will probably testify to that.
The catalyst to my interest in neuroscience occurred two hundred feet above sea level on an off-road motorbike half way up the Pyrenees completely on my own. Some months previously I had been inspired by watching the Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman and decided quite spontaneously that I wanted to learn to ride an off-road motorbike and then take it over a mountain. I can honestly say it is the hardest thing that I have ever done; emotionally, physically and mentally. After a mere nine-months albeit relatively intensive training I found myself on a patch of rock halfway up a mountain with an incredibly steep cliff to climb. The sixteen guys I was on the trip with, who I later discovered competed with the likes of David Knight OBE at the weekend, were long gone. I was so out of my comfort zone it was ridiculous.
I had one of those ‘I can’t do this’ moments and then thought ‘this is what I work through with my clients on a daily basis’; pushing through those emotions that can serve to stop us in our tracks or enable us to metaphorically fly. Having been so fortunate to have been trained by some of the best off-road bikers in the country, I knew I had the skill. I just needed to get my brain on board too and dispel a good deal of the nerves! I also thought that it was my choice to be on a motorbike on the side of a mountain and that not one of those children at Great Ormond Street Hospital had chosen to be there. And with that in mind, up I went.
My work as an executive coach and perhaps a level of curiosity and interest on my part has meant that I have met and worked with some extraordinary people from all walks of life. My observations around how these individuals succeed in whatever guise success is for them, has therefore always been a fascination. It was in a meeting with a neuroscientist that I realized that my observations backed up by some neuroscientific rigour would perhaps make a more interesting and useful read.
B.D. I LOVE how you refer to the possible as “Art.” To me this implies that we must put a good bit of effort, imagination and soul into completing our greatest goals. Is that a correct assessment?
K.T. Thank you!
That is absolutely a correct assessment. The expression that an overnight success rarely, if ever happens overnight night, rings true. It is the culmination of often years of hard work, effort, failures and new actions. The individuals that I interviewed and reference in The Art of Possible have put a huge amount of passion, focus and deliberate action into what they’ve achieved and as you say soul too. It is an art and a very personal one which in itself is sometimes hard for some people to grasp.
The Art of Possible is available in hardback and paperback on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Art-Possible-Kate-Tojeiro-2015-04-14/dp/B01HC9GN8Y and also as an audiobook on Audible http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Health-Personal-Development/The-Art-of-Possible-Audiobook/B06XGN44QS
and other outlets.
B.D. Who are some of the folks that have inspired you and why?
K.T. I’m inspired by people who have succeeded and fulfilled their potential despite or through adversity and those who have strove and resiliently made things happen in whichever field or walk of life they are in; business, sport, art – everywhere. People who want to change the world, people who run phenomenal businesses, but also want to run them ethically and fairly. People who want to develop personally or learn or create, or just make a difference to a few or many. The resilience and grit to keep pushing I find very inspirational, hugely humbling and motivating.
As is the theme of The Art of Possible, I get inspired by people who strive to get comfortable with discomfort daily in order to achieve their dreams.
I have friends who have cared for terribly ill children whilst holding everything else together in life and they have been a true inspiration.
Well-known people I’m inspired by include: Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Malala Yousafzai, Charlize Theron, Kris Carr, Oprah Winfrey, John Surtees, Emma Watson, Valentino Rossi, Rosa Parks, JK Rowling, Elon Musk . There are so many…… I think you can find inspiration in people every day, if, of course you make a point of looking for it.
Billy (Biketruck) Ward was certainly a huge inspiration and continues to be. He was a great supporter when I decided to embark upon the challenge to learn to ride an off-road motorbike and then take it up a mountain to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. It was the hardest thing that I have ever done; physically, emotionally and mentally however my life has undoubtedly changed since.
Pushing way beyond your own levels of comfort into a place of discomfort teaches you so much about yourself. The good stuff, the less good stuff and where to focus your energy for what’s next.
I am inspired by so many and feel privileged to meet and work with such amazing people. Currently I am working with an incredible group of people doing extraordinary life-changing work and literally making the difference between life and death across the globe. Working with them is amazing.
B.D. I first became aware of you through that amazing and wild, Billy (Biketruck) Ward. So, you too are a motor biker. What does that bring to your life? Is it all about being Zen?
K.T. That’s an interesting question. I still struggle with calling myself a biker, perhaps because the challenge I set myself was so monumental and I just completed day one of the four-day trip. Though I do live to tell the tale and that was, I discovered later, by no means a given! That said, I do ride a motorbike and own a motorbike an off road motorbike, which from time to time I just go and play on or have a blast, which I love. Bikes for me represent freedom and adventure in an unencumbered sort of a way. I traveled quite a bit in my twenties, often alone, though not on a motorbike – but occasionally a horse. I think initially when I started learning to ride a motorbike there was something afoot around doing something new that really challenged me, mentally and physically, and of course adventure.
When you bring together focus, passion and action, it’s amazing what happens – perhaps that’s the Zen bit for me.
B.D. Are there any new projects you have on the horizon you would like to tell us about?
K.T. At the moment, a new challenge is bubbling though I’m not entirely sure what form it will take. It will for sure involve challenge, adventure and travel, and hopefully a motorbike or maybe some open water. I’m not a confident or strong swimmer, and that would therefore be a huge challenge.
However one project in which I have become involved is very close to my heart. I recently became an ambassador for NACOA (The National Association for the Children of Alcoholics in the UK) which provides a support and helpline for all COAs. This involves raising awareness at all levels; talking in corporate environments, in the media, through to children’s homes or schools where there is concern that someone may be feeling the challenges associated with growing up with an alcoholic parent.
The charity provides a support line for the close to 2.6million children of alcoholics in the UK alone. Recently NACOA has influenced at government policy level for children to be included in the Tackling Alcohol Harm policies which to date have never included children. This inclusion is a wonderful success.
We hardly talk about the devastation alcohol abuse can wreak. We talk even less about the impact addiction has on partners and children. This is why I decided to be open about my story, and if it could help just one child have an easier time of it and not feel so alone, it would be good thing. It has been an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience. The people that I have met along the way are nothing short of amazing.
“ Reaching your potential requires a level of discomfort. When we try something new, we feel uncomfortable just because it is new – nothing more, nothing less.”
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Everyone - irrespective of their talent, age, wealth or privilege - has to face their fears at some point in life, and conquer things that they previously considered unimaginable.
Kate Tojeiro is an executive coach, motivational speaker and author of The Art of Possible, a self-development book inspired by the Long Way Round.