Chi-chi Nwanoku has a very interesting story as to how she came become an internationally renowned double bass player.
Nwanoku, the eldest of five siblings from hardworking Nigerian and Irish parents, fell in love with playing music at an early age. At seven years old, whilst round a neighbour’s house, Chi-chi heard someone playing the Boogie Woogie 12-bar blues and insisted she be taught the song. Every day she’d return to play until in the end, the neighbours wheeled the instrument to Chi-chi’s house and said she could have it as a gift! Her talent and determination were obvious and Chi-chi’s dedicated parents worked overtime to pay for piano lessons.
Concurrently, at the age of 8, Chi-chi was spotted by an athletics coach and started training as a 100-metre sprinter. She describes the feeling of running fast as being ‘free as a bird’. And Chi-chi was fast – excelling in the sport, she ran for Berkshire competing at national level. So good in fact, that qualifying for the 1976 Montreal Olympics was a very real prospect. Her trajectory was about to change though. Chi-chi was asked to be a stand-in striker for Reading Ladies football team and left her opponents in her wake. However, they weren’t taking this lightly and each time Chi-chi took off with the ball, she would have a handful trying to kick her. This had devastating consequences resulting in a knee dislocation and being told she would never sprint again.
What she thought was her intended life’s path had come to an abrupt end. What we call on The Winning Edge – a lighthouse – a situation we can do absolutely nothing about and instead, need to intelligently navigate around. There was nothing Chi-chi could do about this situation, it was what it was. Devastating. However, returning to school after surgery, her music teacher approached her and suggested ChiChi learn to play ‘a very unpopular orchestral instrument’ – not exactly going for the hard sell…! Chi-chi was shown the school’s double basses and thought it must be a joke – she – the smallest girl in the school, play an instrument which towered over her?! Her teacher threw down the gauntlet: “Yes, but Chi-chi when have you ever been put off by a challenge?”
In the same vein, the 11th Dr Who, actor Matt Smith had his life mapped out. Playing football endlessly as a child, he had the talent and tenacity to pursue it on a professional level and was Captain for Leicester City’s youth team. It seemed he was destined for a career in the sport until he suffered from a debilitating back condition called spondylosis, cutting his playing days short. Football was his life – Smith felt lost and unfulfilled. Then his drama teacher approached him and said he never thought he would become a footballer and felt acting was for Matt. Matt was not a willing participant. He failed to show up for two drama festivals but his Mum persuaded him to give it a chance and the rest as they say, is history.
What do Chi-chi and Matt have in common? Yes, their life’s path dramatically changed from what seemed like their intended direction; they both had teachers who saw great potential and encouraged them to try their hand at something else but crucially, neither Chi-Chi nor Matt let life’s obstacles stop them from achieving great things. Coming to terms with devastating circumstances, over time, they had the passion and the drive within them to change direction and achieve in another field – if you’ll pardon the pun!
With all due respect, they are not special. They are no different from you or I. For we all have the ability, but not always the desire, to choose the way we think about a situation. We can choose the nature of our thinking and this has a huge impact on the kind of life we lead.
Think about it…
“What you think about isn’t nearly as important as the way you think about what you think about” Richard Jackson MBE, The Winning Edge
By Kirsty Perrin
About the Author: Having been immersed in the Winning Edge principles from an early age, Kirsty’s philosophy is to be the best you can be and to enjoy what you do in life.
Kirsty knows that personal development is a continuous journey and therefore has a genuine desire and enthusiasm to help people realise their full potential, to be a success in their life-whatever that may mean to them.
Kirsty’s thought-provoking blogs, prompt readers to think consciously about how their thinking has a huge impact on their life, it informs their emotions and therefore their behaviour. Living life consciously is the cornerstone to the themes of Kirsty’s blogs. You can contact Kirsty directly here