The idyllic lifestyle my wife and I share belies the time that I suffered from panic attacks, experienced deep despair and even contemplated suicide. That dark period lasted for years until I discovered something that changed my life.

When I was 17 my parents separated and I lost my home. I lived in Bed-Sits or Rooming Houses for the next 8 years until I got married and tried to settle down. Shortly after that, I went into business with a couple of friends.

At first we were lucky and won lucrative contracts. However, it wasn’t long before we were spending more than we were earning and the bank overdraft was growing. At the same time I discovered my wife was having an affair with one of my employees.

This was the start of a very dark period in my life.

With a collapsing business and a crumbling home life, I did what I always did in times of trouble; I ran away. I toured Ireland, flying my hang glider and living off credit cards. Before long my cards were declined and I was running out of options.

Returning to Birmingham, I stretched friendships by sleeping at acquaintances houses, sometimes on their floor, often to the chagrin of their wives. This was the lowest point to which my life ever descended. Homeless, jobless and broke with massive debts, I was rapidly becoming friendless too.

For nearly 20 years, I’d had little contact with my father. He was remarried, with a young family and was not very pleased when I turned up on his doorstep, in a wretched state. I felt he was part of the “conspiracy” against me, plotting to make me miserable. He had very little to say to me except, “Pull yourself together!” Then handed me a tatty little book and said, “Read this, it could change your life!”

As I read the book, things started to make sense. That book was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. You may have heard of it or even read it. I still dip into it just about every day for inspiration. After my first reading of this little book there was no going back to despair and self pity. I began having positive thoughts that turned into strong burning desires. This gave me hope and faith in myself which brought back my self esteem.

Within a few weeks, I had a good job and my massive credit card debt was replaced by a manageable loan. Settled at last? No! the company was taken over by a multinational conglomerate and I was destined for the scrapheap, again.

Without waiting for the redundancy axe to fall in the hope of getting severance pay, I gave my notice and announced that I was going into business on my own.

The next six months were far more challenging than anything I had faced before. Some people were a great help and others were deceitful and lied. Despite it all the business became a success.

What was different from only a few years earlier? How could I prosper this time with similar challenges that had broken me two years ago? What had changed? What was different? It was my ATTITUDE that had changed! Instead of fearing challenges, I welcomed them!

That business started in 1984 is still flourishing. We have challenges and setbacks of course but for 25 years the inspiration that Napoleon Hill gave me in Think and Grow Rich has steered me through. Did reading that book change my life for the better? Yes, it did. Was it a one off ‘light bulb moment’ that turned my life round in an instant? No, certainly not.

It was definitely a pivotal moment but it was just one small, first step in the right direction when for years I was running in the wrong direction. It opened my eyes to a whole spectrum of information that I didn’t know existed. It also made me hungry for knowledge. During the next 25 years I read every self-help book that I encountered.

I have also take a keen interest in so called alternative methods such as Crystal Therapy, Dowsing, Meditation and Reiki. These complimentary therapies also play a pivotal role in my life and help to me keep ‘grounded.’

One final question has bugged me for a lifetime now;

I still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. (If I ever do, that is)