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Table of Contents


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This book is dedicated to my mum; the life she lived, the person she was and the people whom she impacted during her journey.


A story that has always inspired me goes like this:

There is a story about the Native Americans who lived off the land on the prairies and plains of the United States of America. This was a very challenging time. The land had suffered from drought for a long period and the tribes were suffering as a result of the lack of water, lack of vegetation and lack of food.

Across the land, and in this time of desperation, a legend grew about a tribe that could dance and make it rain.

The other tribes set the goal to make it rain. Some would dance for twenty to thirty minutes but then stop with no success. Others would dance for hours until their feet blistered and then give up. Some tribes would even dance for days on end but eventually give in to their aching backs and the ridicule from neighbouring tribes. They would all give up disheartened and just as dry as when they started.

A decision was finally made to track down this legendary tribe and find the secret to their success. So the chiefs from all the other tribes took off in search of this one tribe. When they found the tribe, they sat at the feet of its chief and pleaded, ‘Oh great chief, we have tried to make it rain, we are suffering, we need your help. How can you make it rain? What is your secret?’

‘There is no secret,’ explained the chief. ‘Our method is simple—we dance until it rains.’

The power of persistence cannot be understated. Decide what you want, formulate an action plan and then ‘dance until it rains’.

This book is written by a loving son not just as a celebration of the life of an amazing woman and mother, but also as a lesson to every single person on the planet about the power of the mind and the potential and possibility for a life of health, wellbeing, joy and abundance.

The message ‘dance until it rains’ forms the basis of this book and I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.


‘The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.’—Tom Bodett

Each and every day in the life of every single person provides opportunities to learn, particularly for those who are open to the lessons and who would like to improve their lives. For the great majority of my life I have let so many of these incredible people and lessons pass me by as I wandered through life with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, just expecting things would turn out the way I wanted.

It often takes a major event to shake us to the core, to slap us and say ‘wake up and learn the lessons or beware the consequences’. For me, surprisingly enough, the wake-up call didn’t come when my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, nor did it come when she was diagnosed with secondary cancer in her liver in 1991. Astonishingly, it didn’t even come as I witnessed her face the challenges of the disease for fifteen years. I never really understood (or even wanted to) what she went through. I had my head firmly buried in the sand, wishing it would all just go away. That was until September 2004—just two months before she died.

We were spending some time together in Queensland and found ourselves talking about her life and her journey, the story that I will share with you in this book. For days we talked, we laughed, we cried, we loved, and then an amazing thing happened: I saw my mum in a completely different light. She was no longer my mum—the giver, the carer and the protector. Instead, I came to know her as a vulnerable child, an uncertain adolescent, a searching adult, a creative being and someone, like all of us, wanting to feel important, to love and be loved and just be happy.

Since that time I have become a different person with a renewed perspective on life. Every day is a lesson and every day offers a precious gift that is mine to take if I choose. My goal in this book is to share with you the life of a remarkable lady, and in so doing, highlight the amazing lessons that each of us can learn not just from her life but also from our own. I would like to offer you the gift that my mother, Sue Jobling, gave to me and I hope that it impacts your life as profoundly as it has mine.

Chapter One


‘Real heroes are those who fall and fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they’ve stayed true to their ideals and beliefs and commitments.’—Kevin Costner

The greatest people on this planet are just ordinary people with extraordinary dreams who are willing to ‘dance until it rains’; some are famous, others are people you may never have heard of.

We all know about the cyclist Lance Armstrong and how he not only overcame testicular cancer, but then went on to win an astonishing—and record-breaking—seven Tours de France. As impressive as his achievements are, the process for achieving them was actually quite simple. The key for Lance was to identify what would give him the strength and commitment to continue to do what he needed to do to enable him to achieve such extraordinary success. His courage was rewarded with an abundance of amazing experiences, fame and financial gain. Even though I don’t know him personally, I am sure that his greatest joy has come through his own personal growth, the richness of his personal relationships and the response of the people whom he has positively impacted along the way.

Everyone has heard of Colonel Sanders, but not many people know his story. While I am certainly not endorsing the regular consumption of KFC meals for those wanting a long and healthy life, what I do want to highlight is the incredible attitude of this inspiring man. At the age of sixty-five he was unemployed, broke and alone but with qualities that most people in his position would never have recognised. He had a recipe for fried chicken, he had faith, but most of all he had the persistence and courage to dance until it rains.

He had no money to start a business and he didn’t have any of the necessary skills or contacts. But what he did have was an idea and an unshakeable belief. He started approaching chicken fast-food stores. He offered them his recipe and asked only that they pay him a percentage of every piece of chicken they sold using his recipe.

Well, many people laughed in his face. They said, ‘Look, old man, get out of here. What are you wearing that stupid white suit for?’

Did Colonel Sanders give up? Absolutely not! Instead of feeling bad about the last restaurant that had rejected his idea, he immediately started focusing on how to tell his story more effectively and get better results from the next one.

Colonel Sanders was an ordinary man with an extraordinary desire to succeed, one that helped him to overcome 1009 no’s before he heard his first yes! He spent two years driving across America in his old, beat-up car, sleeping in the back seat in his crumpled white suit, getting up each day eager to share his idea with someone new. He just kept dancing! All he was focused on was the ‘yes’, and the rejections he got along the way were nothing more than an incentive to make him improve and fine-tune his next attempt. Who would have believed that these simple daily decisions and his focus on that one elusive ‘yes’ would have led to the incredible KFC empire that we know so well today?

And what about Nelson Mandela? In 1994, when he was finally elected president of South Africa, he said in his inaugural speech to the nation and the world:

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become reality.

Mandela was born in 1918 and as a young child began to fight for the rights of others less fortunate. In 1948, however, the fight really began for him when the South African government introduced apartheid to totally segregate the different races in South Africa.

His vision was for the freedom of all people. His passion and conviction for his dream gave him the strength and courage to endure and overcome the harshest adversity, including an horrendous 27-year stretch in prison. While incarcerated, Mandela constantly refused to give up his political beliefs in exchange for freedom and, in doing so, became a symbol of the struggle of black South Africans and the focus of world attention.

He was eventually released from prison in 1990 at the age of 71 and immediately continued his life work, as he still does today as I write this. This is a man who knew nothing else but to dance until it rains. With a single-minded focus on the freedom of people, he overcame overwhelming obstacles to change South Africa and the world.

There is story after story of well-known or famous people who have achieved great things by following the same process to succeed. However, for every person who is in the public eye there are hundreds who are not, but who are just as remarkable and courageous and who have done things just as inspirational as Lance Armstrong, Colonel Sanders and Nelson Mandela. My mum, among many other incredible people who have been in her situation, battling cancer, is one of them. My mother never wrote a great classic, she didn’t climb a mountain or develop a great idea into a household product. Her passion was her family and friends; they were her reason for being. When she was threatened by the diagnosis of cancer, it was then that her inner strength came through. It was the love for her family and friends, and the fear that she might lose them, that sparked her attitude that she would dance until it rains.

Her goal was to live. It was a goal that she had to focus on every single day because to not achieve it would mean the end of her world. She had to wake up every day and face her mortality, knowing that at any time the fight could be lost. Her reasons for living far outweighed any fear, doubt, pain, suffering and discomfort she would experience on her journey.

The result was that she not only survived for the next fifteen years, but thrived in many of the most important areas of her life. She transformed her illness into a life of significant wellbeing, and turned what seemed to be a devastatingly negative scenario into a positive outcome for many people, most importantly herself.

The process that Mum went through to survive and thrive is the same process that Lance Armstrong, Colonel Sanders and Nelson Mandela went through to achieve the things they did. She tapped into her inner power and found courage, resilience, inspiration and an amazing strength that she was then able to harness to move her forward in her life. While her life was shorter than she, or we as a family, would have hoped, she continues to live on in our hearts and minds, inspiring us to believe that we have the power to achieve great things in our own lives.

My mum is one of countless unsung heroes who touch the people close to them and many others along the way. They don’t do it for public attention and acknowledgement; they do it because of a burning desire to live and love.

Lesson from Chapter One


The steps to success in wellbeing or any other area of life are really quite simple. The difference between those who achieve great things and those who don’t is nothing more than a decision that successful people make to start now and to finish what they started. Everyone can but not everyone will. We have the choice to stop right now and think about what it is that we really want and ask ourselves: ‘Why not me and why not now?’ Life is too short to let it just pass by, so let’s decide today to start living it, let’s take control and live it by our own choices and dreams and not by the choices of others.

Chapter Two


‘I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.’—Marilyn Monroe

As I sit here and write this section, it is Saturday, 3 December 2005. One year to the day that my beloved mother passed away. Initially, this was a day of not just deep sorrow for me but also bitter regret, because of a decision I had made and the way events subsequently unfolded. However, after twelve months and some purposeful reflection, I have come to understand that everything happens for a reason and that my decision was for the best after all.

For months I had organised to go to Sydney for business on Friday, 3 December 2004, and then spend the weekend there with friends. As the date approached and Mum’s condition worsened, I decided the best thing to do would be to cancel the trip and stay in Melbourne with her. However, my dad encouraged me to go, and after confirming with the oncologist that her vital signs were stable, I decided to fly to Sydney on the Friday as planned but return on the Saturday.

I felt uneasy and unsettled on the Friday and although I had many things to do, my thoughts were almost exclusively with my mum. During the day I made several calls to Dad to get an update and reassure myself that her condition was stable. Everything was okay until about 5p.m. when I received a call from Dad suggesting that maybe I should consider flying back as Mum had taken a turn for the worse. Panic set in! I quickly organised the first flight back to Melbourne that I could, got in a cab and headed straight to the airport.

The ensuing sequences of events were the most frustrating, agonising and heartbreaking of my life. I got to Sydney airport, checked in and impatiently waited for the flight to be called. Five minutes late, ten minutes late, thirty minutes late and then the unthinkable—the flight was cancelled! At first I felt numb and utterly helpless but then I sprang into action. After some pleading and explaining my situation, I got rebooked onto another flight.

I sat on that flight, the longest of my life, my mind going a million miles an hour and with a horrible feeling deep inside that I was too late. Finally we landed in Melbourne and I got into the terminal as soon as I could so that I could turn on my phone. A message from my dad and a call to him confirmed my worst fears: my mum had died while I was in the air.

My first reaction was anger. I was so angry with myself that I had gone to Sydney in the first place. I wasn’t with Mum when she passed away because I was so work obsessed. I started to give myself a good old-fashioned berating until I realised that I was still at the airport. I had to get to the Freemasons Hospital as quickly as I could. My car was in the long-term car park. Against my dad’s wishes—he pleaded with me not to drive—I decided to get my car and then come back to collect my suitcase from the conveyor belt as that would save time. My plan was going perfectly until I came out with my suitcase to find that I was being given a parking ticket for stopping in a bus zone!

With tears in my eyes, I explained my situation once again, this time to a humourless and very businesslike parking officer. His response was, ‘I’m just doing my job.’ Well, I wasn’t going to wait for him to finish writing the ticket. ‘Do what you have to do,’ I said as I drove off, leaving a stunned parking officer with a half-written parking infringement in my wake! (In case you’re wondering, yes, I did receive the parking fine in the mail. I was very grateful that the staff at the Freemasons Hospital took it off my hands, called the appropriate people and negotiated a cancellation of the infringement.)

I finally arrived at the hospital and was greeted by my brother Matt, sister Jen and my dad. For the next hour I sat alone with my mum. I couldn’t take my eyes off her; she looked finally at peace—after fifteen years of pain, heartbreak, uncertainty and treatments of every variety. For her, the deepest pain she had undoubtedly felt was over: the suffering that she had believed she was putting the people who loved her through.

It was now about 1a.m. on Saturday, 4 December 2004. As I sat with Mum, holding her hand, I thought about the day that had just passed. I thought about my initial reaction to not being with her when she died, the anger I had felt. I also thought about our relationship.

We were very similar people; both very vulnerable and emotional—we both made a habit of wearing our hearts on our sleeves. We had a strong connection and I know Mum was very aware of how her condition affected my brother, sister and me. She had fought as much as she could fight and it was her time, but I know with me there she would probably have held on for longer as she wouldn’t have wanted me to go through the pain of losing her. She was thinking of others to the very end. I believe that my being in Sydney perhaps allowed her to let go and slip into her final peaceful state.

This may sound like a selfish or self-absorbed point of view, but it helps me to deal with the events of that day that ultimately prevented me from being by her side.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that where we are right now is where we are meant to be.

Lesson from Chapter Two


In the pursuit of wellbeing and success we need to understand that the decisions we make, regardless of the outcomes, are the decisions that we were meant to make and the outcome is the one that was planned for us. Be at peace. Don’t beat yourself up over things you have or haven’t done or said. Look for the lesson, learn from every experience, and know deep down that the path you are on will lead you to a better place.