I first came across Ben's story when he was featured on Hometown Hockey a couple months back and immediately reached out because I wanted to learn more and share it with all of you. He was kind enough to spare some time to answer a few questions. Check out our Q&A:
How did it all begin?
When I was chasing my dream of playing in the National Hockey League I sustained a hit that left me in the hospital bed with no idea how I got there. I woke up to the news that my brain was bleeding in three different places. I took two years away from the game and then returned for 3 more seasons. I was honoured to be the captain in my final year and with pro opportunity offered to me and a dream come true… I decided to step away from the game and chase other things.
When did you decide to create your podcast, "Heroic Minds"?
During my "post career transition” I was trying a bunch of different things in the way of hobbies and social venture start-ups. I wanted to give back and make an impact like the community did for me during my recovery. I started a foundation to share and simplify research in head injury in sport. I then started a fitness program that was going well but not well enough for me. My good friends and partner on the Heroic Minds project said I should start a podcast because I love public speaking, working through problems and empowering others. Heroic Minds started as a hobby. Now it continues to become more and more exciting and open more and more doors.
How did you overcome the darker days in your journey?
My dark days were not as dark as they could have been because I was constantly around people that pushed me. My teammates, my billet family, my coaches and even my parents though they were did not want me to return to the game. I never had time to dwell on the bad, or the rough times, I had too many people around me supporting me. Simply I overcame the darker days by getting back into routine even though that routine was a little different than everyone else, I pushed myself even though that looked different than it did for others. I stayed in my lane and competed against myself from yesterday always trying to be better and having the people around me to help facilitate that.
What advice do you have for people in similar situations?
I would say that the TOUGHEST part of any journey through adversity is accepting where you are and that is also the key. For me it was accepting that I had a 1% chance of ever playing again. If I wanted to play again I would have to do X to get to Y (which is playing again or finding a new passion). So if I don't accept where I am (X) I won't know where I am to then start my journey towards Y. This may sound confusing. What I am saying is today with social media with the rat race of life. We always tell ourselves in our head we are in a different spot than we actually are. “I am smarter than that person, I should be making more money already, I should have a better job by now, etc etc.” We never tell ourselves “I am here, now lets find a way to get to where I want to. I believe that acceptance is the key to resilience, toughness and success.
For more on Ben's story and his podcast, click here.