Our son has talked about Israel Adesanya for some time. I have to admit, I wasn’t particularly interested – mainly because, I don’t have a great understanding of mixed martial arts or fighting sports in general. And I just don’t feel comfortable watching two people hurt one another. Being a parent, I’m sure many will understand this.

So, it is fair to say, I wasn’t seeing the person behind the sport, but instead I was making a preconceived judgement without knowing the full story to who Israel was as a person. I admit, I was very quick to judge his character without truly knowing who he was.

My first glimpse of him as a person was on the AM Show and I suddenly realised that this amazing young man has real depth to him in what he has to say and is far beyond his years. Most people can live their whole life and not achieve or inspire themselves or others as Israel has done. Israel has buckets of charisma and we can all learn from him with what he has to say – if we simply listen and keep our preconceived thoughts of professional fighters quiet.

With Israel being crowned ‘Sportsman of the Year’ at the Halberg Awards last Thursday night, I appreciated how he used this opportunity to talk about the massive issue here in New Zealand about our culture of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ which he said is ‘messed up’. I have experienced this all too much, and quite frankly it irritates me how many people are just too self-centred and arrogant to ‘lift others up’ who wish to look ‘outside the box’ and achieve greatness.

The words that really resonated with me was when he talked about “if you see one of us shining …, pump them up, embrace them, because if they win, we win, if I win, you win”. The full video link is below to view.

I believe that whether we like it or not, every New Zealander is very much connected, and to succeed we all have to work together – rather than against each other to drive positive change around ethics, values and well-being which will benefit our businesses and the communities we live in – not to forget about productivity. With Rata, we have had a lot of support to which we are very thankful for, but we have also had many people knock our vision and abuse our kindness. All of us have had people in our lives who have used their own personal shortcomings to shutdown others own creative endeavours and achievements.

However, out of these experiences we become stronger and more determined to achieve what we set out to do, in our case helping lead New Zealand towards a brighter future. With more and more people joining us with the same compassion, ethics, leadership and vision – we can all work together to make sure New Zealand is passed on to the next and future generations as not only a wonderful place to work and live, but a better place than it is now.

Finally, here is the link to Israel’s speech to inspire you. Enjoy.