Wayne Forrest on his experience with disability and his journey from farmer to life coach

Learn about Wayne Forrest's experience with disability and his journey from farmer to life coach.

Wayne Forrest

Growing up in Pōranhahau, a small farming community in costal Hawke’s Bay, Wayne Forrest lived and breathed farming. He knew from a young age that he wanted to work on the farm, so it was no surprise when Wayne went on to become an expert shearer.

“I could shear 300-350 sheep in a day,” says Wayne.

He was also a keen rugby player. Wayne was in his high school’s First XV rugby team, and once he’d finished school, immersed himself in his local rugby club.

“I lived a lifestyle of working hard and playing hard,” says Wayne.

One Saturday in 1995, Wayne was getting ready for a game of club rugby. The team was low on numbers and the regular captain was away, so Wayne was asked to lead the team.

“It was a great honour and opportunity,” says Wayne. “I also had a friend, who I’d met overseas, visiting. So the ego in me wanted to impress my mate.”

It was a tough game, and wanting to win, Wayne took the ball into a ruck.

“My mentality was always that no one was going to beat me,” says Wayne. “I put myself in danger for a moment and ended up dislocating my neck…it was like a hot poker straight in the neck. I couldn’t breathe.”

In a moment, Wayne became a C4-5 tetraplegic.

“[In hospital] I was in and out of consciousness and felt helpless,” says Wayne. “When I did wake up, I wasn’t able to move and there was shame that went with that. I was this so-called strong farmer boy who now had to rely on everybody.”

Although eventually coming out the other side, Wayne went through some dark moments as he came to terms with his injury.

“I had these moments where I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I already had those thoughts seeded in me from my childhood. There was always a part of me that felt not good enough. That feeling put me in the position where the accident happened.”

While Wayne was going through this, he had a vision that marked a turning point for him. He decided to go back to his first love—farming.

“I started creating goals like getting strong enough to drive and I was really lucky I had a physiotherapy therapist who was totally onto it. We would work for hours on stuff,” says Wayne.

“It's surprising what you can achieve when you've got a clear vision.”

Wayne eventually started running the farm again. A few years down the track he realised he had achieved his goal, and it was time for another challenge.

“Be careful what you ask for,” says Wayne.

Wayne Forrest on an ATV

Wayne soon got an email inviting him to a course with Back Up, a spinal cord injury charity in the United Kingdom, that would see him take part in outdoor activities like paragliding, abseiling, and scuba diving.

But just before he was meant to leave, he got the measles.

“I had to put the whole trip off by two weeks, but by delaying the trip I ended up doing all these different activities that I wouldn't have done otherwise, like water skiing,” says Wayne.

Water skiing on Lake Heron in England was a pivotal moment for Wayne, as he pushed through his fears.

“The first time I water skied, I fell off and didn't warn the two people that were holding me up,” says Wayne. “I was face down and didn't realize I wasn't going to be able to turn over. I was getting to the point where I was desperate, but at that moment I was pulled over by the boat and the two people that were on each side of me.”

For some that might have put them off doing it ever again, but Wayne decided to push through.

“I had to push through this fear every time it was my turn, but something was telling me not to give up. I would go as white as a sheet, I've never felt that scared, but I pushed through it,” says Wayne. “Every time was better and better and better.”

“I was able to realise the potential that we all have…if you've got a possibility, even if it's 1% or 2%, if you focus on that, you'll be surprised what you can achieve.”

Through the experience Wayne came to realise there are two types of fear.

“There’s fear of, for example, jumping in front of a big truck. That's life threatening. That's what fear is for,” says Wayne. “But we've also got this fear of what might go wrong, ‘What does my colleague say I can do?’ ‘Are they gonna think I'm dumb?’

“I noticed very quickly that everyone was being limited by their fear and I was naturally helping people push past this. I really enjoyed it as it took my mind off my situation and put my mind on helping others and that's how I kind of fell into personal development.”

Eventually, Wayne stated working at a local college as a mentor for young men but found that it wasn’t quite satisfying his desire to help others.

“My wife Kathy gave me a link to a video of a woman named Mary Morrissey from what is now called the Brave Thinking Institute. I did an online course with her and she sent us free tickets to her live three-day show called Dream Builder in LA,” says Wayne. “I loved it and decided that I wanted to become a Life Mastery Coach.”

Wayne has been working as a life coach for the last four years, helping people understand their own limitations and how they’re stopping them from achieving what they desire in life.

“I help people with their awareness of their strength, power, purpose, and love by teaching them to learn to listen to the longing and discontent in their lives so they can find what they love,” says Wayne. “I have the privilege of walking beside my clients and helping them lean into that and discover that for themselves.”

When asked what motivates him in his life and work, he says that it is simply love and helping people.

“I think we all deep down want to love and be loved,” says Wayne. “That's my main drive, having love for the other person and believing that we are all connected.”

Visit Wayne Forrest’s website (external website)

Watch Wayne Forrest's TedX Talk