Allan McGregor – Born December 1959. A child that loved nature. One of his mother’s friends said, “He’ll be fine” at school because he’s a bright kid.
It didn’t work out like that
At school I remember painting a tree and a duck knowing exactly what they were, then I had to paint the word ‘what’ – to me it was a ‘picture’.
I viewed English like a pyramid. Imagine, at the peak, one letter words, followed by two letter words, then three letter words and four letters and so on. The further towards the bottom of the pyramid you go, the more knowledge and understanding you need.
I was taught to sound out my words, … why was the word ‘what’ not written as it sounded, as in ‘wot’? I was having great difficulty with simple words like this… so you can only imagine how difficult the majority of reading and writing was for me!
I can remember taking a piece of paper home, called a ‘report’ ‑ I did not know the meaning of the word or how to spell it. What I did know was when I showed it to my parents they were unhappy. The more reports I took home, the more my parents were unhappy. I remember one of my teachers’ comments was, ‘nothing but a daydreamer … won’t amount to much’ ‑ I felt so dumb and naive. Instead of doing my English homework, I would rather wait until the next morning to get the cane ‑ it was a lot quicker and less painful than the torture of the written word. At home, I would look into the mirror and hit myself in the face because I hated myself so much.
I did my apprenticeship as a truck mechanic. I had never read a book; I didn’t pass any of my written exams, but I did complete the required hours. I took the opportunity to work in the Northern Territory of Australia, working on Aboriginal Settlements and Uranium Mines, repairing diesel‑powered generator sets.
When I came back to New Zealand, I saw a need in the kiwifruit industry for a ‘demountable curtain sider’, which I designed and patented. People told me it would not work, yet in the first year alone I turned over $400,000. I also learned the hard way that having a patent was no use unless you had the money to defend it in court….. It was time to move on.
I soon started my own trucking company specialising in lifting containers. Before long I had six trucks; one alone had the capital value of $400,000, with all the latest in technology from Sweden. After 13 years, I put my trucking company up for sale. A large company wanted to purchase it but there was no written contracts. I simply said, “Why do you need a written contract? If you provide a good service, the customers are happy with you, and you get paid.” They agreed to buy the company.
I was always looking for self‑improvement; I bought a set of Tony Robbins’ Personal Power CDs. When I gave my credit card number, I did not read the fine print and I ended up receiving CDs each month. One of them was Napoleon Hill and “The 12 Things That Constitute Real Riches”. This small list of words resonated and excited me, and made me ask questions I’d never asked before, and I continually ask to this day.
- Positive mental attitude (observe it heads the list)
- Sound physical health
- Harmony in human relations
- Freedom from fear
- Hope of future achievement
- Capacity for applied faith
- Willingness to share ones blessing with others
- To be engaged in a labour of love
- An open mind on all subjects towards all people
- Complete self‑discipline
- Wisdom with which to understand people
- Financial security (observe if you will with great benefit the fact that money comes at the end of the list, of the 12 things that make men rich).
Is was involved in other ventures including network marketing, an exclusive retreat, land and property developments, a charter boat business as well as music.
Do you ever get the feeling that things are meant to be?
Way back in 1999, I met with an old school friend, Tony Christensen who was travelling the world as an inspirational speaker. During our catch-up, he revealed that at times when he was sharing the stage with other speakers they used the exact same music he was going to play. This was so embarrassing for him.
At the same time, I was working with my brother-in-law, Martin, on one of his earlier albums and I had the thought, what if Martin could write inspirational, expressive songs just for Tony?
Tony went for it, and uses those songs Martin created to the present day all around the world. Little did I know at the time, this would lead a few years later to my inspiration to get Martin to create “Think and Grow Rich Music” and to my dream of sharing this music with the world.
Before that though, still in 1999, I employed the services of a business mentor to help me on my new path to get Martin’s music out to the world and that’s when everything really crashed. As we discussed the direction, he soon realised I did not understand what he was talking about. He said we would have to go back to the “what’, the ‘why’, and the ‘how.” He then asked me another question. I tried to answer him as best as I possibly could. I didn’t understand. He yelled at me, “THAT’S THE WHAT! THAT’S THE WHAT!!”
I pleaded with him, “Could you just tell me where I’m going wrong. I don’t care how much it costs?” He said, “I don’t need your money!” I thought to myself, how could I be so dumb and not understand what is so simple’? I thought about it for weeks.
One day at home, I got a pen and a pad out and sat down at the table. I wrote the word ‘what’ out over and over again ‑ it swirled through my brain until, ‘eureka!’ I realised… it was just a word ‑ simple to most, but to me it was pure revelation! The relief was huge ‑ It flooded my every thought. I felt as if liquid was running from one side of my head to the other, the strangest feeling I’d ever felt ! I was experiencing a ‘chemical imbalance’ (manic episode) – I was going into a high state. Friends came around. I kept saying to them, “I want you to listen!” but I couldn’t tell them what I wanted them to listen to. Everyone became scared, frightened at seeing a side of me they had never seen before.
Within hours I was picked up by the police and taken to jail but I felt very calm. I remember reading all the words on the cell walls, starting with the long words, right down to the letter ‘A’ ‑ ‘A’ for Allan. Each time I went through a word it was like my triangular pyramid from school days. I felt the joints in my body relax each time I read. ‘Why would they bring me here?’ I wondered, still, I felt calm and at peace.
After several more hours, I was taken to the isolation unit at the Psychiatric Hospital. Nurses came in and tried to jab me with a large needle. I told them I didn’t trust them; I didn’t know what was in the needle and I asked them to please leave me alone. A few hours must have passed, suddenly, a group of about six people stormed in, flipped me upside down and jabbed the needle into me. I saw one female nurse with tears running down her face ‑ I knew she showed true emotion.
After five days they released me into a ward with a diagnosis of bipolar. I asked for a counselor ‑ I was offered drugs. I needed to talk, but all they wanted to do was feed me more numbing medication. I asked if I could have counseling from a friend who was a pastor. He visited me regularly and I finally had a chance to express my feelings, but even he couldn’t resolve the innermost distaste I had for myself. Thoughts of suicide were a constant, to leave this world and not be a burden to anyone seemed the only way out. The medical staff realised the dark moods which surrounded me; obviously I could not be released until I was ‘stable.’ I felt alone, my thinking still full of dark clouds. I had made up my mind to take my own life, but I knew that I had to behave before I would be released. For about three weeks I became the perfect patient.
Once released, I headed towards the destination where I was going to end my life… my body started turning a dark grey‑black colour and I completely ran out of energy to go any further. I knew, at this point, that things were not meant to happen this way. I admitted myself back into hospital and began my recovery.
I remembered The 12 Things That Constitute Real Riches from the book Think and Grow Rich. For some reason, I just knew that I had to read that book. It was the first book I would ever read in my life! Finally, words would be my light, not my nightmare. I read it several times with great enthusiasm. In this book there is a chapter on Imagination ‑ I was comforted that I was allowed to dream. I thought to myself… ‘whoa!’ More people need to know about this. It said in the very front of the book, if people could not get the secret, they could go through life as failures. I thought about Martin and his music… these chapters could be converted into music, so people of all ages could hear it and be led to reading the book and improving their life.
I felt like telling the world. But when you have been affected by mental illness you learn to live a very private life. I was very depressed and suffered severe anxiety. Now at 49, amongst the constant monitoring was a test for dyslexia. As the reports came back from the various centres, all the results pointed to significant dyslexic trauma. I believe this, to a great extent, had a massive effect on my mental illness, but the Think and Grow Rich book gave me tremendous hope, strength, and energy to move ahead. It was the start of a laying of a firm, long term foundation for my new life. Think And Grow Rich talks often about setting specific goals. I challenged myself to set a goal. It was not to earn a million dollars. My first goal… “I will be out of bed by midday for lunch.”
Toward the end of my time in hospital, I received private treatment, which was fantastic to help reinstate me back into the community and be able to get employment. My family has been through all of these experiences with me. My sixteen year old son has said to me, “Dad, you are the most intelligent person I know.” Those words are so powerful to me ‑ words I will remember for the rest of my life. They helped me regain confidence and give me true meaning in life. I have even found my dyslexia has been a blessing. It has given me the gift of “big picture vision”.
Slowly, through observation and an open mind, answers are being revealed. It’s strange to look back and see where my life is now, how it has been affected by love, by music and 12 small steps.
Martin wrote a very special song just for me. He wrote it in Australia while I was in hospital in New Zealand. When he went into the recording studio he recorded the entire song in one take which is apparently very unusual. It is called Understanding Misunderstanding and he has added the story of how he went about creating this beautiful song.
As a lyricist, when trying to write from another person’s perspective, you must be as empathetic as you can. To try to ‘take on board’ the circumstances; emotions; thoughts; geography and dynamics of another person’s experience is a transforming thought process that eliminates the “what would I do?” mentality and transports you to the possibility of ‘other thought’.
When I penned “Understanding Misunderstanding”, I wrote it from dual perspective. One figure, disillusioned, isolated and searching helplessly for answers in a world he thought he knew but now can’t comprehend – and the other, calling to that lost soul, that they understand the pain and the others’ right to feel that way. He hopes that through his cries he reaches the heart with a message of hope and love and to re-affirm that there is a future that will be brighter.
My friend who was going through that ordeal did make it through to the other side though, at times, he did not want to. Many don’t. The courage he has shown is a testament of his strength and his willingness to believe in himself and his future…..” close your eyes and dream you’ll walk the mile – I know you’ve a different view, it’ll take all your strength to see you through”.
I know in some small way this song helped along the way. I truly feel privileged to be able to say that. If I could sum up my thoughts and my intentions for writing this song for Allan, (and for anyone who listens), is, please remember you are never alone.
Have a listen to the song below
The Bar-tailed Godwit
Infinite intelligence and the sixth sense
Napoleon Hill often talks about infinite intelligence. He has a whole chapter in Think and Grow Rich about the sixth sense. To help me understand better my friend Keith Woodley, from the Miranda Shore Bird Centre, told me a story about a world record epic flight by a Bar-tailed Godwit bird tagged E7 tracked by satellite navigation. She flew more than 28,000 kilometres. How did she fly day and night with no food or no rest, apart from wind currents and flying in formation? How did she know how much to eat prior to leaving for her reserves? How did she know what speed to maintain? What height to fly at and to land on the exact spot where she left from seven months before hand? New Zealand – Korea 7 days non-stop (10,300 km), Korea – Alaska 5 days non-stop (7,250 km), Alaska – New Zealand 8 1/2 days non-stop (11,700 km).