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How My Trip To Meet Richard Branson Helped Me To Give Up Alcohol

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Hosted by
Simon Lovell

Featured on Forbes.com and Entrepreneur, Simon Lovell coaches and mentors top CEOS, entrepreneurs, and leaders on emotional intelligence, fulfillment, and happiness so they can reach the next level of impact. He is author of The Black Ball: Does Anybody Else Have A Secret & the host of Unshakeable Leaders Podcast.

His loving but NO BS approach and super strong accountability in his signature 6-week program The Super High-Performance Formula has been called 'profound' and 'life-changing'.

I want to touch on the really important topic of alcohol in entrepreneurship because numbing pain is real. It was for me.

I’m going to be raw and honest becasue this was my life and I have my own personal journey and relationship with alcohol that ended in July 2017. I reached the point when I knew I didn’t want to drink it anymore, but there was a lot that led up to that moment.

My journey with alcohol started when I was working on video games and magazines. I was 16 years old, I’d just moved to Bournemouth in the UK and I was working as an editorial assistant on the magazine I used to love to read myself. Yes, this was my ‘dream job’.

Everyone went to the pub after work to drink. I was part of the afternoon work gang, drinking to the point when I’d almost pass out. I spent a lot of time drinking within my work environment and it just became a habit.

I had a cycle of drinking and smoking. That got worse as I got older when I started to get into drugs, taking cocaine and ecstasy,  At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I was just a young guy going out and drinking alcohol, but I can see it was a way for me to fit in. 

I never really liked the taste of alcohol and I didn’t like how I felt when I was drinking, but just through repetition, and the circle of people that I chose to hang around with it felt normal.

I would go out on Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes midweek, hook up with girls, and get drunk. This was me from the age of 16 until my early 30’s.

Things started to take a bit of a different turn when I got involved in drugs, taking cocaine at parties before going to nightclubs. I was introduced to cocaine from another personal trainer.

I Led A Double Life

During the week I worked as a personal trainer and on the weekends I was a DJ. I had my own DJ set and I got a lot of attention for that. My cycle started on a Friday night – I’d go out, drink, smoke, to drugs, and then gamble. I had a sequence and a pattern of addiction.

I didn’t understand my addiction was directly linked to my lack of connection with myself.

I think everybody has a different relationship with alcohol, but for me, it was definitely unhealthy and it was linked to my lack of self-worth, my need to fit in, and my need for validation. 

I remember getting called into the personal training manager’s office. I had been out at the weekend, doing things I shouldn’t have while wearing my personal training T-shirt and my manager wasn’t happy. 

I look back now and laugh. I was out drinking wearing my T-shirt with personal trainer on the back, then getting drunk. What was I doing? I was trying to look good, trying to be somebody while I was smoking and drinking. 

I was leading a completely double life. 

The version of me I didn’t even like was behaving inappropriately and I was being called out it in my work environment.

I lied to my personal training manager and said the things I’d been accused of didn’t happen. My behavior was not something I was proud of, it was a version of me that was showing up and I didn’t like that. 

I beat myself up. I would spend days and weeks in a depression because I’d heard things I had done that I was ashamed of. I felt really upset with myself.

‘Depressed is the need for deep rest from the character that we’re playing in the world’ – Jeff Foster.

After my spiritual growth and evolution, I can look back and understand I was playing a character. I was showing up to try to impress and I was drinking and taking drugs to feel confident. 

Over time you become very disconnected from yourself and very isolated. You then create a group of toxic people around you who encourage you and make your way of being feel normal to you.

Alcohol lowers your energy and your vibration; it doesn’t help with creativity or evolution. You wake up and feel groggy, your energy is low and you make bad decisions. You want to be focused as an entrepreneur but when your energy is low and you are relying on alcohol or drugs you can’t fully commit to yourself or your business.

Meeting My Idol

I had gone on a dream trip to Necker Island to meet Richard Branson in April 2015. Richard Branson was my idol. I looked up to him. He was very inspirational for someone like me who wanted to succeed. I can even remember one of my school teachers telling me I was going to be like Richard Branson when I grew up.

I built my company, made millions of dollars and one of the things I wanted to do was to meet Richard Branson. So I did it. In April 2015 I was part of a mastermind group, and we got the opportunity to go to Necker Island.

The boat ride to the shore took us to the house where we were welcomed with alcohol. We took a golf cart to the tennis courts where my idol was casually playing tennis. 

The day was spent in the group talking with Richard; I ran along the beach with him and as I sat in the hot tub with Richard the alcohol was flowing.

It was such a magical day in so many ways, but as the day went on, as I started to drink more and more, I remember Richard was speaking in front of the group and my head was swaying.

That was typically me – getting drunk, being incoherent, not really understanding. 

Now I was missing a really good opportunity to learn from my idol.

A week later I received an email from the organizer of the mastermind, he wanted to chat with me about what happened on Necker Island. My heart started racing. It was like the call from the headmaster at school when you’ve done something wrong. I was panicking.

He said I had got drunk, said something very inappropriate to one of the female members. Her husband was there, and understandably they weren’t happy. 

I was so taken aback by how the organizer handled the situation because he did it with calm and grace. He brought something to my attention without attacking me but he made it clear I needed to put it right – I asked for the contact details of the couple and I immediately got onto a phone call to apologize.

It was a massive wake up call because I realized that I didn’t want to show up that way. I didn’t want to act like that. It wasn’t congruent with who I really was.

That was the turning point for me to change. 

I’ve learned so much in terms of how to heal people very quickly from addiction.

When you’re honest with people like the organizer of the mastermind was with me and you bring things to people’s attention it’s the opportunity for a wake-up call so you have a choice. 

It was the biggest gift for me because it broke my pattern that I knew deep down I needed to deal with, but I wasn’t willing to admit to myself. 

He created leverage for me. He gave me an opportunity to grow, and I wanted to change – when something comes into my awareness, I want to make that change.

I Started My Healing Journey And Ditched The Alcohol 

The start of my journey to healing my addictions was going to Peru to experience an ayahuasca plant ceremony.

After that trip, I started to heal. Deepening my meditation enabled me to delve into why I had acted that way for so long and why I was needing to soothe myself with alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

I started to really change. The first things to go were the drugs and then the alcohol, and then because I quit alcohol I gave up smoking. It was a chain reaction. Once you pull away from one, other things can start to fall away too.

As those things started to fall away I noticed everything started to change. My relationship started to get better because I had ripped out the underlying toxicity – that came from my insecurity, because I didn’t really know myself and because I had programmed myself that way. I’d conditioned myself not to feel happy without my addictions so I didn’t know myself and I couldn’t be without them. 

I would go into a party and feel disconnected so I would drink to feel normal. It’s a double-edged sword; you drink and then you’re not yourself. You want to feel normal so you drink and then you don’t feel normal when you do.

I recognized that if I didn’t make a change nothing would change. 

I woke up one morning after going to an event and noticed my patterns of behavior. I recognized my decision to drink was made in a split-second when I wanted to feel confident and fit in. 

People ask me how difficult was it to give up alcohol. It was difficult until it was easy. There’s a turning point, a mental click when it feels okay.

Alcohol lowers your vibration and activates your ego. When you drink, another person shows up and that’s what was happening for me. I wasn’t the true Simon Lovell, it was a version of me that acted in a certain way.

That’s what alcohol and drugs do. It changes your headspace and the way you think. It brings in another version of you that can be very destructive.

You show up as a different person; either you’re angry or you’re drinking. The alcohol, the drugs, it was all soothing. It’s a way to soothe from the pain of the things that you don’t want to address. 

I love the work I do now because I’m stripping away a lot of old patterns from people and changing the way they are so they don’t need to drink and they don’t want to. 

If you’re drinking occasionally and it’s not destructive, that’s one thing, but it’s easy to make excuses – when you’re doing that you’re in denial. I was in denial and I was in a very dark place I needed to get out of. 

You Have The Choice To Change

The great news is that if you make the commitment to yourself and you want to make a change and improve to be the best version of yourself, then you can. It’s just a choice. It’s your choice to put your hands up and ask for help because enough is enough.

I’d had a lot of isolated incidents and I reached a tipping point. 

You don’t realize, at the time how much can open up for you in your business – your levels of confidence, how centered you are and with the happiness and fulfillment you can feel when you start to remove your addictions. 

Disconnecting yourself from things that don’t help you connect with yourself at a deep level stops you from moving forward, both personally and professionally. For an entrepreneur that’s really destructive.  

Addiction is directly linked to trauma. It’s directly linked to the things you’ve experienced in your life that you’ve shut away and use to numb yourself. Alcohol and drugs are a way to numb and disconnect from feeling because you don’t want to feel the things that are hard for you to address.

If this has resonated with you I want you to know that things will change if you want them to. If you can admit the truth and you’re willing to dig deep emotionally with your level of emotional intelligence and speak up about what’s actually happened in your past and talk about difficult things you can become the catalyst of change.

I hope this serves you in some way.

If you are a CEO, business owner or entrepreneur who finally wants to take back control of your life then you you can reach out to me via my mentorship page or check out the Super High Performance Formula.

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