You only get one chance at life so you may as well make it memorable, says photojournalist, author and consultant Nigel Brennan.
He should know. Living a large life and career that’s included working in hostile regions all over the world, he spent 15 months held captive by Islamist insurgents in southern Somalia.
“Don’t be afraid to dream big and risk everything,” he says. “After all, what’s the worst that could happen, you could find yourself kidnapped in Somalia!”
Brennan will present the keynote address at QUT’s upcoming WorkSmart Conference for Office Professionals. Having been through a significant and lengthy ordeal during his time in Somalia, he’s emerged stronger and more liberated, with extremely positive views on life, work and the value of family.
He’ll present a captivating and inspiring story of survival, resilience and hope at the event that aims to stimulate, empower and challenge delegates in their work – all the while promoting healthy work and life balance.
The two-day Gold Coast event will also offer a series of workshops covering career progression and development, increasing productivity, social media, health and wellbeing, and practical office tools. Workshop facilitators include Megan Iemma, Vanessa Stott, Jim Olds, Martina Sheehan, Yvette Adams and Julie Watson. Theatre maker, educator, coach, writer and psychotherapist Margi Brown Ash will MC the event.
Delegates will learn everything from improving digital literacy skills to motivation strategies, career planning, mindfulness and staying focused. The program emphasizes gratitude, being present, encouraging positive change, the importance of family and creating great opportunities.
Brennan was kidnapped in August 2008 along with Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout and their Somali translator and drivers. After converting to Islam to help integrate with their captors, suffering mental and physical torture, and making a daring but failed escape attempt, they were eventually released in November 2009. Brennan’s since released a memoir on his ordeal, detailing the psychological aftermath and the affect on his family.
He writes in his memoir that all of us will experience some form of trauma and adversity in our lives. What matters is how we use the experience. Some of us will implode, while others will blossom. In his case, the ordeal gave him great strength but also revealed some weaknesses.
But most importantly, the experience has given him a more positive outlook. “I lost fifteen months of my life, and I’m unwilling to lose any more by dwelling on the past,” he writes. “Out of a horrific experience have come many good things: I am more compassionate towards others, infinitely more patient, and I have a great understanding of the world around me. I have been given a second chance at life and I don’t intend to waste it.”
You can hear from Nigel Brennan, and attend the series of work and life changing workshops, at the 2015 WorkSmart Conference for Office Professionals on Thursday 29 and Friday 30 October, at QT on the Gold Coast.