Finding the Silver Lining: How Hardship Can Lead to Growth

Finding the Silver Lining: How Hardship Can Lead to Growth

How Phil Hadfield's Health Struggles Fuel His Hustle

Hey there, Phil Hadfield here - co-founder at Holme & Hadfield! Living between London and Bali and running a business I truly love may sound like a dream. And it is! But it hasn't always been this way. Let's rewind to November 2021. Think about the worst hangover of your life. Sprinkle in a generous dose of the worst flu you've ever had. Yeah, that was me. Every. Single. Day. I had suffered with chronic illness for almost 12 years at this point with diagnoses from Lyme Disease to Epstein Barr Virus. 

Back then, my existence was a monotonous loop: drag myself out of bed, muster enough energy for a park shuffle (let's not call it a walk), fight through the early days of building Holme & Hadfield (which, let me tell you, is a whole other beast), crash by late afternoon, and then repeat. The worst part? Socializing was a distant memory, thanks to the absolute no-go zone of alcohol and an even bigger loss – the joy of moving my body.

Seriously, 2017? That's the last time I set foot in a gym. 2015? The last time I truly played a sport. Stuck in this rut for years, it's easy to fall into the "doomed forever" mentality and get really down about it. But here's the thing: I refused to accept it. I wasn't going to go spend the rest of my life moping about because the truth is, you can live a full and wonderful life DESPITE your hardships.

This shift in my mindset inspired me to create The Chronic Comeback podcast. Interviewing incredible people who battled and beat debilitating illnesses reignited a belief within me. It wasn't a magic switch, but it nudged me to take tiny, baby steps towards a healthier future...and not just sit back waiting for it to get better.

Fast forward 18 months from that bleak video clip and I was back in the gym 4-5 days a week! Now, "recovered" wasn't quite the term to describe it yet, bad days still happened. But guess what? I clawed back something precious – the ability to move my body. Each gym session was a testament to that, and the sheer gratitude I felt (and still do) during those workouts is indescribable.

Today? I've added Padel pro (ok, novice!) to my resume, hitting the court 2-3 times a week. Stronger, fitter – honestly, the best I've been in ages. And you know what? I had no idea how much I missed the competitive fire until it roared back to life. It brings me so much joy, it's unreal.

Here's the crazy part: this health journey has made me a better entrepreneur. Why? Because I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. Been there, done that with way worse. But that doesn't mean I'm a zen master when things get tough. Overwhelm? It happens. Feeling like there's no light at the end of the tunnel? Yep, that too. But guess what else I have? A mountain of evidence that things can, and will, improve. So, when the inevitable happens, I take a deep breath, refocus on our vision at Holme & Hadfield, and keep pushing forward.

Next on the agenda? Snowboarding and, the ultimate goal, football (soccer for you American folks). Ambitious? Maybe. But hey, if I can go from barely walking to Padel powerhouse, who knows what I can achieve?

The takeaway here is this: resilience isn't just about bouncing back, it's about building a foundation that lets you weather any storm. Here are a few tips that helped me on my journey, in case you're facing your own battles:

  • Small wins, big impact: Forget giant leaps. Start with micro-goals you can crush every day. Celebrate those victories, no matter how small – they add up!
  • Find your tribe: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who believe in you, even when you doubt yourself. My podcast guests were my virtual cheerleaders, and having Ian as my business partner at Holme & Hadfield has been an incredible help.
  • Focus on gratitude: Shift your mindset. Instead of dwelling on what you can't do, appreciate what you can. A bad day doesn't erase the progress you've made.
  • Listen to your body: It's your compass. Push yourself, but don't push through pain. Rest is just as important as action.

Remember, resilience isn't a destination, it's a journey. There will be setbacks, but with the right approach, they become stepping stones. So, keep moving forward, one step at a time. And who knows, maybe you'll surprise yourself with what you can achieve! 

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