Anthony Bennett, who survived a near-death experience as a young man, will be delivering a keynote address at the SET24 conference in January 2024 covering topics including mental health, motivation and resilience. Here, Anthony reflects on what his life experience has taught him, and what he hopes attendees will take away from his talk at SET24.
After my near-death experience, the biggest lesson for me was gaining a better understanding of time. Time began to be a strong focus for me. How long until I can take my first step? How long until I can walk again? How long until I no longer need tablets daily? I really started to understand what could be achieved by dedicating myself to something over time.
Of course, I wanted to walk right away but my body physically couldn’t. There were no shortcuts, I had to go through each hurdle and build myself up over time. I now apply that way of thinking in my day to day. Not looking for shortcuts but putting in the time.
I remind myself that life is a temporary experience that will come to an end – not in a morbid way, but in an amazed by the experience kind of way – and I like to ground myself with this thought. We also evolve into newer versions of ourselves every few years. When we were 10 years old, we were different from when we were five. When we were 15 and looking back at 10, there was a change. This continues to happen through time. But all we absorb within that time will direct the next transition. Wanting to be a better version of myself and being excited about the next stage keeps me productive and motivated to work towards the next awaiting version of myself.
As humans, we connect socially and emotionally. If I were to ask each person reading this whether they had one or more teachers who truly stood out in a positive way, I'm sure they would agree there was at least one. For me, it was those teachers who recognised my strengths, encouraged my growth, and helped me understand how I could apply my interests in the real world.
When someone believes in you, it has the power to ignite a surge of energy and drive. I still vividly remember the woman who once said to me, "You're quite talented at speaking and motivating people. I can envision you becoming a keynote speaker for companies when you’re older." That conversation stuck with me, and her belief in me opened a world of possibilities in my mind. Now, I am doing exactly what she foresaw.
Experiencing burnout taught me the importance of prioritising my wellbeing. There was a time in my life when I was heavily immersed in a demanding corporate job, and though people around me advised me to take a day off, slow down, and care for my health, I believed I was invincible and could keep pushing forward. Eventually, I crashed. Going through that crash helped me understand my limits and when to take a pause.
Now, I constantly check in with myself, rating how I feel on a scale of 1 to 10 multiple times throughout the day. I reflect on what or who influenced my current state and consider how I can increase that number, even if it's just by 1%. This practice reminds me that I have more control over myself than I initially realise.
I hope to provide the audience with a positive nudge to step out of their comfort zones and embrace opportunities. I also aim to stimulate thought among the attendees, serving as a starting point for them to believe in themselves more and make decisions that enhance their lives.