Alistair Horscroft’s life today is nothing short of extraordinary. In addition to founding and running his training businesses The Mind Academy and the Optimal Life Co, Alistair is an author, life coach for athletes and celebrities, renowned public speaker, including for TEDx, and hosted the hit Discovery Channel TV series ‘The Life Guru’.
However, he told Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that is wasn’t necessarily always going to be that way, and that his life hit some serious obstacles in his teenage years and early twenties.
Both Alistair’s parents suffered from serious mental health issues, to the point where at age 16, Alistair had to travel to India and find his severely unwell mum, who was following an Indian guru, and bring her back to the UK, where she ended up in an institution.
Alistair turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the family issues he was experiencing, and after suffering brain damage as a result of a devastating mountain bike accident, he became suicidal.
“I was finding it very hard to handle the discomfort and suffering in my head (and) I wanted it to end,” he said.
“So I’m down on the train tracks in London, and … I remember sitting on the tracks going ‘oh f***, I don’t want to ruin the train driver’s life, that’s f***ed up.
“I remember having a very stern chat with myself, that I was going to be the exception, that I wasn’t going to let my history define me, and that I was going to do something extraordinary with myself.”
Alistair enrolled in a philosophy degree at university, and studied to become a personal trainer.
“By the time I’d done my four year degree I had my degree, which I did very well in because I learned how to learn … I was a personal trainer, I was an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practitioner and a therapist, I was a coach, I was an exercise physiologist. So over a four year period I just next levelled myself.”
Alistair then started to focus his attention on hypnosis and NLP.
“Using (my) conscious and unconscious mind and aligning them for success, doing a lot of visualisations and a lot of goal setting and a lot of work on my unconscious mind … that was the major transformation when I started really using my mind and my brain in formulaic and systematised ways.”
One of the topics Alistair talks about in his TED Talk is the speed at which conscious and unconscious processing take place. He gives the example of being a bit stressed about going to a party.
“I go to this party and basically whether my conscious or unconscious hits the button first that’s going to be the response that I give. So of course consciously I’m trying to push that button. I want to be confident.
“But the problem is our conscious processing travels about one hundred meters per second in our brain, and our unconscious processes travels about one hundred thousand metres per second around the brain. So what that actually means is … even though my conscious mind is saying ‘be confident, be confident’, all of a sudden I get those uncomfortable feelings in my body, I get the stress response, start getting the anxiety … and it’s because the unconscious is hitting that button a hundred thousand times faster than the conscious mind.
“The big answer to a lot of the problems is that we’re always too late to the party when it comes to the change process. We need to be changing ahead of the game. So say for example I had an important meeting … the day before or even the week before, in my mind I would be role playing the successful outcome of that meeting.”
Alistair says it was this approach at critical junctures that allowed him to turn his life around and achieve what he has been able to achieve.
“It was the main key to my success … and I did that in a very, very short time in London. I went from basically having nothing, in about two years I had my own TV show, house, car … it was an incredibly rapid rise.”
Listen to the full podcast interview here.
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