My Connection Back to Life
Mark [0:00] I’d like to welcome Sean Purcell to the World Heart of Connection Podcast. Sean tells me he’s the luckiest man to be alive after 10 isolated but mini incidences all aligned up. For him to be here today with me and others to tell his wonderful story. Since this incident, his life has been dedicated to finding the best version of himself and from his story, he milks each day for as much as he can get out of the day. I can’t wait for Sean to share his story with listeners. Welcome, Sean.
Sean [0:37] Thank you very much, Mark. Thanks for having me.
Mark [0:39] No worries mate. Have I covered enough?
Clinically Dead on Torquay Beach
Sean [0:43] Gosh, we need a long time to cover all of it. But yeah, so the incident you’re referring to was about five and a half years ago. Here in our neck of the woods down in Torquay on the coast. Where a severe lung infection which I thought at the time was just a standard man flu had taken hold. In my infinite wisdom decided to go for a run and see if I could sweat the man flew out but what happened was the infection itself attacked the wall of my heart. It caused my heart to stop almost immediately went into sudden cardiac arrest. I was a drop-dead and I was clinically dead for 45 minutes. For that, 45 minutes 10 people came to my aid and basically perform CPR consistently for that time before they sorted defibrillator. And about the 45-minute mark, the helicopter arrived and the paramedics arrived and managed to stabilize me enough to get me in a hospital where I spent the next five days in a coma. My wife and my kids were told that I would surely be brain damaged or they weren’t seeing any brain function at all. So that was sort of the prognosis that my wife is left with. Then a day five of the coma I open my eyes and sort of four or five days later I found. Neurologically 100% and walking and it’s just an absolute miracle so very lucky man.
Mark [2:30] Well done. I assume – I am just curious to have much memory of the event?
No memory of dying – just lost 18 months of memory
Sean [2:36] Now I don’t remember it at all. It’s probably the neurologically really that I had from it is. I lost probably about 18 months’ worth of memory. Solid memory and bits and pieces as well from the past, which is a pretty freaky experience. But no fallout from that event it all. I don’t remember it. Everything that I know and the story that I tell is from research from the people who were there on the day and, and managed to piece it all together. So yeah, very strange.
Mark [2:37] Since the pre-death, I guess. Yeah, pre-death versus post-death. Is there a difference in the way you look at life, the way you connect to life since the incident?
Such Gratefulness for Each Day since my Death
Sean [3:30] Yeah, absolutely. I think every day from the day that opens my eyes is the first thing that happens is automatic. It’s something that can’t be controlled, and it’s that I’m just really grateful to be alive. Little bit of shock sets in when my feet hit the ground. I’m like great, I’ve got another day ahead of me. That gratitude carries out throughout the day, whether I’m having a good day, a shitty day, it doesn’t really matter. The base underlying factor is that extreme gratitude. And from that, I’ll just build out – the fact that I can just live I just take stock of every single moment and, and just have that gratitude and growth mindset every single day. This is something that was completely absent in my first sort of short life.
Taking Life for Granted Before Dying
Mark [4:29] So in the first shot at life, did you just take things for granted?
Sean [4:34] Yeah, I took everything for granted. I think and I see people now, just almost sleepwalking through life, and I can relate to that. I think, previous I was bulletproof and my problems were the biggest problems in the world daily. Back then was probably a fair thing to say, compared to now, where I think there’s a solid dose of perspective in every interaction I have or every thought that that comes through. I’m far from got it nailed, but I’m mindful of it now and I’m working really hard to ensure that there’s a solid perspective daily.
Mark [5:21] How do you – with the incident and the treasure of life following it – Do you take each day? Do you notice each day differently compared to the pre-event?
Connecting & Allowing Myself to be Me
Sean [5:39] Yeah, I do. I am no longer aware of – I suppose other people’s understanding of me and perception of me. I don’t – it’s not – I suppose I don’t really – I don’t care. To be honest, as long as I’m not hurting anybody.
Mark [6:03] So you don’t respond to the other people’s judgments? You’re more connected to yourself, more in touch with where you’re at in the world, what’s going on inside your being?
Being More Connected to Myself
Sean [6:17] Hundred percent. I think that was something that formed a big part of my life previously. Was what other people thought of me. How I came across and I would work really hard at protecting my own brand I suppose. Whereas this time around I suppose one of my favorite phrases is to be – just – to be completely unapologetic for being myself. And enthusiastic in the way that I get after life now. Without having to worry about what anyone thinks of that. Which is really, really liberating, really freeing.
Mark [7:02] One of the underpinnings of this conversation is about the heart. We men we tend to – yes, we’ve got a heart but we tend to use our intellect – our intellectual logic a lot. Have you noticed the difference since the death and then coming back to life that you’re more heart than the head?
Connecting More with my Heart than My Head
Sean [7:26] Yeah, well 100%. I think with my relationships with people it’s still a lot of work to do around the way that I treat people. I do believe it’s heart first before my head with a lot of my behaviours. Just being aware of it, I think is really important.
Sean [7:52] Even if there are behaviours that I have that come off as not – as head first and is not really people first I suppose. I’m not saying that’s completely gone out of my life and there are still behaviours in my life that I’m not happy with. But I’m aware of them now. I think it’s a really quick process for me to understand that or for other people to be comfortable enough to tell me about those behaviours. And I take that on board straightaway.
Connecting to my Deeper Insight
Mark [8:22] Is there more insight and awareness to how you operate, with your awareness?
Sean [8:30] There’s more, definitely not enough. (Laughter)
Sean [8:35] There’s more than before definitely.
Mark [8:39] What have you noticed? How’s it impacted on your connection to others?
Each Connection to Others is a Daily Blessing
Sean [8:47] I think it’s freed up a lot of space in my life because of realised again imagine if today was the last day. Tomorrow I didn’t wake up which is as plausible. Not waking up is as plausible as waking up tomorrow for any of us. Who spends time in your day is very big – it’s a strong mindset with me. So people in my life that are taking without giving – takings fine, as long as they serve some sort of – there is some give in there as well. I don’t stick around very long anymore. Whereas, I think my relationship with other people I’m very – I’m a lot more careful now. I’m an introvert by nature, despite standing on stages and talking to thousands of people every year. My happy places are to be by myself. So my circles very small now. But it also leaves a lot of space for other amazing people to walk into my life which happens all the time. So I am more mindful of those connections with those people.
Mark [10:08] Do you treasure the connections much better now?
Second Shot at Life has Improved my Connection to Others
Sean [10:12] Yep 100%. Even that with the closest people in my life. Like my two sons from a previous marriage. My two beautiful stepdaughters and my wife you know. Just really mindful of those relationships and how they feel about me or how my behaviour is affecting them. Difficult relationships with my brothers and my Mum and Dad that traditionally were never super-tight or super-close, we’d see each other once or twice a year. I work really hard to ensure that I can try and re-establish connections through those as well which is probably something I wasn’t doing previously or even mindful of.
Mark [10:54] So it really opened up incredible doors for you?
My Connection Door has Opened Wider
Sean [10:59] Definitely. I think even just with the public speaking circuit, I tend to spend at some events, you’ll be one of four speakers on the day. And that means that you’re generally in a room at the back with the other three speakers. Some of them we all know, they’re on TV or radio and some of them, you know, we’ve heard of. But just having – just hearing their stories and understanding their way of life and finding out the similarities and those connections is absolutely amazing. It’s inspiring as well because makes me understand I’m on the right track and I’m around the right people. Which is, yeah, really amazing.
Mark [11:45] Can I just check-in, is the connection and the understanding of people is it – would it be fair to describe it as more of a heartfelt connection to people nowadays?
Connecting to the Other Person First
Sean [11:56] Yeah, definitely. I think as – in my 20’s and 30’s I would probably, let’s say a new connection to someone would often – my first thought process would be what can I get out of this relationship? What can I take away from this? What can they offer me? And you know, there was quick proof that there was not much they could offer, then I don’t think I would have been the nicest guy about that. Or I’d probably have politely shut that relationship down. So, now it’s the person first. Now when there’s a new connection with someone, it’s definitely, heart first. It’s definitely trying to find out as much as I can about that human being and completely removing my ego and me from that.
Mark [12:42] If you were to encourage from your experiences, what advice would you have for men about their connections to themselves and to others?
We, Men, Need to Park Our Egos
Sean [12:58] The first bit of advice would be to park – understand what ego is. Understand what part of plays in your life, which is a lot of work in itself. Just to understand where that ego is playing a part in your life. That would be the first connection. If you don’t know how to do that, get some help. Find someone who can help you understand or read a book. There are so many books about it, that will just – and be open to it. If you – if that’s what you really want to do if you want that change. The next step is to park it and see what happens. And amazing things can be constructed when that happens. When you drop that you’ll understand exactly how much and what a huge part in your life at play. I think then you can go right now I’ve got to start working out who I am as a bloke. Which is really scary and really confronting and it’s something I’ve been working on for the past four years. I should have it sort of mastered within the next 40 odd I reckon (laughter).
Mark [14:06] I’ve got a couple of years on you and gonna wish… Yeah and it is it – it’s a really – the ego, I think – we’re born with it wherein humankind and we have to learn to, not let it run the show. It wants to run the show. Is that what blocks men and their connections?
Men’s Ego Blocks Our Connections
Sean [14:30] I believe so. 100%. I think the sort of world that I grew up in was a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne. Predominantly white-dominated sports culture. Grew up playing football for 30 years. It was completely run by ego. From – as a young man any creativity and individualism was completely squeezed out of you by the time you’re 13, 14, 15 years old. And you either got out of it, explored who you were, or you stayed in it and really squashed down who you are as a man. It’s just such a toxic environment of conformity. And individualism isn’t celebrated at all. And you are seeing now in those environments. It’s just starting to unravel that a little bit and pull apart that that toxic masculinity, which is a good thing. I’m glad. I’m really proud to be a part of that with one of my roles with the Life Changer Foundation where we can get to kids at the age of 11, 12, 13 years old. And let those young boys know that it’s okay to share how you feel?
Mark [15:00] And then the sharing how we feel? Would you describe that as a fragile, vulnerable part of ourselves that holds all those emotions?
Connecting to our Vulnerability
Sean [16:13] It’s an incredibly vulnerable part isn’t it, I think.
Mark [16:17] In your death and I hope it’s okay to speak of it like that?
Sean [16:21] 100%.
Mark [16:24] What happened to your original ego? Before did that – there’s a concept called ego-death rebirth. And I’m wondering yeah, was there a process similar to that for you, in your recovery?
My Deepest Connection to My Vulnerability – Dying
Sean [16:39] I think it was – my experience was probably as what’s the word I’m looking for? I think what happened to me on the beach that day was such a literal example of that. That’s the best way to put it I think. I was literally vulnerable. I was vulnerable as any man is ever going to be in the life. My heart stops beating and I was laying there. 12 people lent into that situation and protected me and looked after me for 45 minutes and gave me the most amazing care you can give anyone. Which is to get their heart beating again. So yeah, once you’re that vulnerable, and then if you just push that through to the hospital, where I was completely relying on the staff there. My wife for the next nine months was my protector. I was like an 85-year-old, couldn’t even walk up my driveway. Vulnerability played a massive part in that physically but emotionally I was completely stripped back, stripped raw. And to rebuild with ego as the driver would have been such a slap in the face to all of those people that took care of me. And whatever entity looks after us that enabled me to come back to life I believe. So, that’s – for me, that’s where vulnerability took the driving seat. And I understood that it’s a good thing to be vulnerable and to share. Because it gives everybody else around you permission do the same thing, doesn’t it? They sort of go, great – I’m going to do it too. I’m gonna – if you support me, if you’ve got my back then I’m going to be vulnerable as well. And only good things come from that.
Being Looked After by Entity Beyond
Mark [18:32] And the word is you’re sharing that vulnerability with me. It’s – it was trust – that somehow, the universe, the gods, the lap, you were in the lap of the Gods. And that held you somehow?
Sean [18:48] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s what I know. I know in my core – what looked after me and again, it’s, it was a God or an Entity. It was something outside of what we are and I know that for certain. Other people aren’t comfortable with those sorts of conversations.
Mark [19:13] Did you connect to?
My Connection to my Spirituality
Sean [19:14] Yeah, more so than – I’m as much spiritual as I am physical now if not more. And I think that – it’s such a strong driver in my life now.
Mark [19:33] Have you put that back in with you into this second time around? That connection to the ‘All That Is’ beyond whatever it was – that just grabbed hold of you. And is that – how deep is that core for you?
Sean [19:47] It’s – to be honest and I’ve never spoken about this on any podcasts or anything, but that’s everything that I am now.
Sean [19:54] I couldn’t continue without that, I don’t think moving forward. I’m still trying to work out what it means and what it all is. It’s still in its infancy. Now I just, I’m still finding it really hard to explain what it is.
Connecting to my Flow-State Beyond Self
Mark [20:16] When you connect to it – is there a flow?
Sean [20:20] Yeah, that’s when I’m at maximum flow. I think it’s – you know, when things are stunted and when there are roadblocks. It’s because of not tapping into that part of me. That spiritual side is sort of being sort of left behind. And it’s usually because my behaviours have been compromised, my morals being compromised.
Sean [20:44] Yeah – it’s that – there are resistances. It may be our egoic resistance. As you notice that – when you notice it, what do you do to reconnect to the depth of that flow-state that really at your core?
My Ego Resistance blocks my Flow-State
Sean [21:09] For its complete abstinence of things that are eating away at the core of my morals, I think. I’m not the type of person who can do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. So – it’s some of them are really practical things like my nutrition, like alcohol. I’ve gone completely plant-based two years ago. I stopped drinking alcohol completely a year ago. And from there on, it’s stripping back and simplifying as much as I can to leave space for that. Usually, when there’s things are clouded in a bit, sort of unclear, it’s because there’s too much going on. And I literally, I’m a very simple unit. So I have to strip back and I have to stop and I have to simplify.
Mark [22:09] Do you notice that when it starting – is that more of a thinking level, and then you’ve got to notice I’m back in my mind, there’s an old story, this is going back into some of the old stories, some of the old reactions, some of the old behaviours. And then is that the ‘Aha moment’, oh, now I need to reconnect back into that spiritual depth. How deep does it go? (Laughter)
Sean [22:38] Real I don’t. I don’t even know yet.
Mark [22:42] Do we need to know?
No words can Describe My Spiritual Depths
Sean [22:43] Yeah, well, I don’t think I could explain it. Even if we could sit here for a couple of hours. I don’t think I’d get to the depths of it. But, I know that it’s not deep enough yet. I know I haven’t done anywhere near enough work on that. And I know that it’s as important as everything else in my life. I know that it’s all connected to everything else I do as well.
Mark [23:12] When you’re in that space, can you describe what happens to your emotional health and your mental health when you’re in that flow-state, in that ‘Aha Moment’?
Connecting to my ‘All That Is’
Sean [23:21] Yeah I can. Everything’s better. Everything’s brighter. Everything’s…and like I said, it doesn’t happen nearly enough as much as I’d like it to. And as I need it too for me, but I’m very aware of it.
Mark [23:40] And when you’re in there, or it’s in you and it’s just flowing through you, what do you notice happens energetically to yourself and to connect to others when you’re in that space?
Connecting to a Better Me
Sean [23:53] I think – when I’m not there, I tend to get caught up in behaviours that are not the best for me. So when I am there, I know that the day is structured better. I get to meditate in the morning, I train harder and better. I eat cleaner and drink more water and I’m nicer to people and everything tends to work out really well and get more done. Work-wise and everything that I’m very mindful of that. I’m also very mindful when I’m in a rut. The beauty between being in a rut now and my previous life was that I’d stay in that rut and not understand it not be mindful of it. Everyone else would be the recipient of the full out of that rut that I came into contact with. Whether it is the person making my coffee in the morning or my children or my wife. Now I’m well aware that I’m there and I know that I’m not going to be there very long. And I’ll be very, I’ll talk to my wife Kel, and I’ll say on flat at the moment. I need 24 hours with this. I’ve got a system and a process that will work through. And it just passes.
Sean [25:22] Yeah, so just about being mindful of it.
Connecting to my Loving-Kindness & Compassion
Mark [25:26] In that rut, from that ‘Aha Flow-State’, when we’re really connecting right in. It’s sort of connected to a source in a way somehow, whatever the source is. Are you noticing that, from that space, there’s more loving-kindness and compassion to give to yourself when you’re in the rut?
Sean [25:51] Yeah, eventually. I think its space is what’s required first, and I think that might be the love and kindness and compassion. It’s just that space whether it’s – usually to get away from other humans. Just to get some time to myself and it might be reading or a podcast or some positive sort of affirmation from any source. That starts to get me through and then, in the end, it’s usually my wife Kel and that’s the kindness I think. That’s something that not enough people give themselves. Is enough – is that space and time to understand where they’re at and just get an action plan to work your way back.
Mark [26:42] And is that something different that you’re not doing since your incident?
Being so Aware of Ego Self
Sean [26:47] Hundred percent. I’m well aware of it now, which is great. Also, understand it’s never going to stop happening. There’s always going to be moments where my ego will take control of a situation without me really understanding it straightaway. So, if someone’s giving me negative feedback about some of my work or something hasn’t turned out the way I wanted to. I think the ego will take control of straightaway. And that’s where I might end up in a rut and that’s where that process has to begin
Mark [27:21] In the egos bit renowned for it sort of negative stories isn’t it? It seems to like to remind ourselves of what we didn’t do, right. Or where we…The important thing is just to notice it.
Sean [27:35] Yep. Hundred percent.
Connecting to my ‘Disconnect to Reconnect’
Mark [27:37] Just bring a check to it and then reconnecting. It sounds like that what you’re needing then is some disconnect time to reconnect back to Sean
Sean [27:52] Definitely. That’s yeah that’s so important. As I said, my default is that I am really introverted. Like I do need alone time and downtime to recharge my batteries. The irony I suppose is that every one of my jobs is incredibly people orientated. They’re all relationship orientated, that doesn’t work without having solid relationships with companies and humans. Then I’ll end up on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people bit exposing my most vulnerabilities I suppose. I am putting it all out there, which can – you sort of getting to the back end of that, and then there’s usually questions and discussions and which I absolutely love at the time, but afterward, I’m completely drained. I need to re-tap whereas other friends of mine who are extroverts, the only way they can fill their tank up is to be with other humans. They get that back from there. For me, such a daunting prospect (laughter)…
Mark [29:14] Such is life?
Sean [29:15] Yeah, that’s right. Their biggest fear is being stuck in a room by themselves. So it’s funny, isn’t it?
Mark [29:21] It is funny. In terms of how do we help men begin to open connections to themselves, others and to the ‘All That Is’ that you’ve experienced in a very harsh way?
How do we facilitate Men Connecting Deeply to Themselves?
Sean [29:38] Yeah. It’s such a good question and I don’t – I’ve got a theory on it. But definitely not any solid answers. I believe, getting boys at an age where they seem to be left behind which is at 12, 13, 14 years old window. Where girls tend to develop and take off a little bit and boys tend to think I’m getting left behind here, I’m no longer the big rooster. I think leveraging of things that are important to them, like their heroes, like their role models and using those role models to say, hey, this is where you can start thinking about who you are going to be as a man. I think that’s where you can get them. I think that’s where you can say, it’s fine to share with each other how you feel. It’s fine to be vulnerable and cry, and tell us when you are sad. Then to create an agreed language or an accepted language with their peers, as they grow, I believe that will ensure that they form into well-rounded humans. I think the women in their life or other men in their life will really really appreciate that. How we convince men to do that, after years and years of negative patterns, I’m probably the wrong person to ask on that one. I’ve got no idea. I think sharing your stories is probably the start.
Acceptance of our Connection to Our Vulnerability
Mark [31:13] And as you’re sharing that – it’s like when we are sharing a vulnerability, we’re exposing ourselves. Part of connecting and connecting to self – is connecting to all facets of self. We’ve got the soft, the strong, the good, the bad, the positive, the negative. Is our vulnerability deemed a weakness? It’s not a weakness, it’s just a part of who we are. And how do we respect that and connect to it? Exposing it-it has to be safe to expose it and how do we change that old toxic masculinity to be masculinity of connection?
Being Okay with our Weakness
Sean [32:00] Hundred percent. I think understanding your weaknesses, I strongly believe that your weakness is ultimately your superpower. I look at my daughter who’s gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant every sort of food allergy you can think of. Her diet now consists of fruit and vegetables, essentially, and she’s the healthiest kid I ever met in my life. It’s making her stronger and fitter than she’s ever been. So, I reckon that what happened to me was – my vulnerability. I was incredibly sick. My heart failed and the stress from a previous job would have compounded that. The poor eating and poor lifestyle choices. That forced me to change everything in my life. And now I think emotionally, I’m a lot more solid. Physically, I’m going to be fitter than I’ve ever been. I think to be around, I’m probably a lot kinder and a lot nicer, human to be around than I ever was. So, therefore, your vulnerabilities and your weakness ultimately become your superpower. I reckon I’d challenge that – that would be the case with every man out there. Start pulling apart all of the stuff that’s broken in you and the Self, to that will become your superpower. That’s what I reckon. If we can just work out – if men can understand that and then find it within themselves to start working on that. Can you imagine what every interaction with every bloke would be like, be unbelievable?
Men’s Change to Connection would be Unbelievable
Mark [33:46] I do believe it is possible. You know, we’re starting to call it out. It will take time. It takes men like yourself, to put yourself out there to share your story to expose yourself. And to share the eternal gratefulness that you are. You’ve got that deep eternal gratefulness to have a second shot at life. It looks like that when that power is inside you, wow, there’s nothing stopping Sean.
Sean [34:19] No and I’m just starting to work it out now, which is the really cool bit for me. Become incredibly mindful of it and find different avenues and platforms to utilize to ensure that the outcome is impactful as possible. And again, let as many people – get as many people feeling that level of gratitude without having to drop dead first. You know, that’s the mission.
Dying was a Tough Way to Learn ~ But also a Gift
Mark [34:51] It’s a tough way to learn the lesson.
Sean [34:53] It really is (Laughter) I wouldn’t recommend it. The odds aren’t great.
Mark [34:59] The odds aren’t great – but you are here to tell the story. What a wonderful story to tell.
Sean [35:04] Yeah, I’m very thankful that.
Mark [35:06] Thank you for your authenticity and your honesty. Yeah, the felt sense just sitting here with you is beautiful energy watching you as you show your story. Is there any – how-to people get in contact with Sean what’s the best way?
Sean [35:32] If you want to book me in for any talks, I do everything primary school, secondary, universities, corporate speaking. So I love to just share my story with as many people as possible and on all those platforms, you’ll be able to sort of book me in through there as well.
Mark [35:51] If there’s anything that’s been stirred up for people today, they can either contact yourself or contact me and we can put them in the right space for appropriate services. If anything mental health or emotional health has come up. Any further advice you’d like to offer young men walking through this earth?
Sean [36:12] Yeah, give yourself some space. Stop what you’re doing at the moment. If there is something that is tugging you back, just turn around and try and work out what that is. That’s one thing I’d love to – that’s one thing I tell most people, nothing’s that important that you have to keep pushing on. So just stop, recalibrate, refocus. You don’t have to quit your job and join non-profit organizations as I have. It doesn’t take much to work out where you fit in the world. And if you feeling smaller than you are, there are people out there that can help you work that out. In this day and age, there are so many platforms that you can turn to YouTube and all of the crappy ones. All the social media channels can be used for good and not evil. There’s someone out there that can help you become who you want to be. You just have to work out what the ego is – pack it and then proceed with passion.
Mark [37:16] Thanks very much, Sean. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your message. And it’s a beautiful message for others to hear and particularly men. Namaste
Sean [37:25] Awesome. Thank very much, Mark.