Where it all began (my back story)

This is the first episode of our new podcast ‘Entrepreneurs Survival Guide’ 

Listen to the podcast here

Hi, I’m Martin Rodgers, welcome to this first episode of Entrepreneurs survival guide. You may be wondering a little about how I came to be here with you today.

The first part of the journey all started back in about 1998 it was the day I discovered that my life wasn’t going to be what I thought it was. It was the day I found out my Kidneys weren’t going to last much longer and I only had a short time before dialysis was needed.

You see from about 1992 when I was 13, I had become rather poorly. Initially, my mum thought it was an eating disorder but we soon threw that idea out of the window, and regular hospital visits had become the norm.

It had taken more than 4 years and lots of tests to get some sort diagnosis about what was going on. I remember, over those past 4 years, my Mum had always been a rock of support, attending hospital appointments with me and just being there by my side. We often didn’t speak on the way to the hospital or at the appointments because I just liked the silence and she knew that, don’t know how because I never told her that’s what I wanted, but I guess that is just Mum’s for you. She was always there though, by my side, a reassuring certainty of strength.

I was 18 now and went to the hospital myself both to the kidney appointments and Crohn’s. Each appointment just felt routine now. Health while not great was stable and manageable. The doctor would ask “how are you doing Martin? Yeah, I’m doing ok, feel tired but mostly ok. The Docs would then just go through my blood test results, and I’d be on my way. I had the impression that this is what life would be like, feeling rather under the weather but ok. Then this one appointment I saw a new Doctor, and as I sat opposite him across the desk he looked over at me and said:

“Martin we need to start looking at the plan for dialysis”.

Turning my head and looking out a little window that peered out into a garden courtyard, My emotions kind of switched off and I went into robot mode. I didn’t want to let him know it was a surprise to me. It took just a moment and then I turned back to him and nodded in agreement. I wanted him to think I had expected this conversation, that it wasn’t a surprise to me.

The rest of the appointment is a blur and don’t really remember much. I often try to remember the whole sequence of events, but only specific areas are burnt into my memory.

My memory comes back when I was driving home, I was driving my Dad’s car and had just come round a sharp corner a street away from home. Reality rained down on me like a flash flood, my eyes just poured, and I sobbed my heart out while trying to drive. You know when you’re driving and the rain comes down so far the wipers make no difference.

Rain on car windshield

That’s what it was like, but it wasn’t rain, it was tears. I felt my life would end, I would not achieve anything, powerless to do anything but accept my fate.

At the time I was trying to to find meaning in everything that was going on and take back control. I was so angry with the universe, god or something. Not being religious really I don’t know why I was mad at God, but I spoke at him a lot during this time of adjustment.

I had always had a rebellious side. If someone told me I couldn’t do something, then a fire would light up inside me. I had decided that my illnesses were not going stop me, I was going to be successful. I was going to make my parents proud and do something with life.

Being ill at school had not been fun. My friends didn’t want to hang out, and they drifted away. At the same time, I was prescribed steroids which made me rather large, this quickly led to bullying.

This meant I had left school with mediocre qualifications and refused to go to college, which my mum was not happy with.

I had left school and got a full-time job at the age of 16. Working as a sales assistant for Jacobs photographic gave meaning and reward. It took my mind off the growing health challenges. It gave me a small taste of doing something good and serving people. Even at this young age, I got a buzz from people saying thank you and saying how helpful I’d been.

Those times had gone now, and I was struggling with finding the energy to do all the things I wanted to.

I was getting more and more sick, frustrated and lonely. I was so frustrated at my body and mind not being the way I wanted them to be. Being on dialysis meant 3 days a week I was on a machine for 4 hours a time. Including travelling and waiting time, I had to give up at least 20 hours of my life a week.

There was always this voice though that told me I had was meant for something more, and then I could find a way to be and do more.

As you can imagine, I was in bad shape and desperate, but I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of having a meaningful life where I achieved something and made my parents proud.

Then I decided that I could use my time on dialysis to learn. I don’t remember where I heard about or found the book, but I remember being at the dialysis centre, sitting back on the chair, they’re a bit like those ones at the dentist, but with a lot more padding, you needed to be comfy for the 4 hours your blood was going through the washing machine. I remember the nurse plugging me and on this occasion having a book with me. The book was called

‘How to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie.

I read that book, and my thoughts changed line by line. It was like a blast of fresh air, it gave me hope.

At that point, everything changed!

I had started to get a glimpse of how to:

  • Take control of my life by using my mind.
  • Influence me and those around me
  • Create hope and not allow my illness to hold me back
  • Dream of a future that I was excited about
  • Be anything I wanted to be
  • Help Myself

This set my life in a direction I could only have dreamed of at the time. It wasn’t long after the journey of personal development started I got promoted to assistant manager at the Nottingham branch.

My job had become my everything, and I was wholly absorbed by it. It where I was useful and liked. I felt important and significant there, something I had never felt before.


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