“Stripped both physically and emotionally, now I use the power of kindness to empower and inspire others – Maria Hocking
We at BoxHuman are passionate about highlighting and celebrating inspiring humans; especially the ones who are inspiring, helping, and bringing light to the world. We do this in order to rebalance some of the negative messages we often hear, see, and receive on a daily basis. We met up quickly with one of these amazing individuals…
Hi Maria, thank you for taking the time to sit with us. Let’s start by getting to know you. Can you please tell me a little bit about you and what you’re especially known for?
I am a life coach, motivational speaker, and author. I use the knowledge gained through my own adversities to educate and inspire others to live the best possible lives. I do this through coaching, speaking, training, and writing. Changing lives with my heart and my words is my passion and my purpose. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the potential in people and helping them see it too!
What an incredible introduction. We’ve just started and I’m already inspired, thank you! Can you please tell us in your own words how your inspiring journey began, what happened and why?
Many years ago, after the birth of my second child, I lost all of my hair. My eyebrows and eyelashes disappeared too along with my confidence, self-esteem, and sense of identity. Hitting rock bottom I felt ugly and like a social outcast who had no place in this world. Yes, I wallowed in self-pity for quite some time and then one day, in one moment it all changed.
I recall my 3-year-old daughter playing with my baby son and making him chuckle. It was the most beautiful sound. At that moment I remember looking at them both and realising that I’d spent so much time focusing on what I’d lost (my hair), that I’d forgotten what I had. In a split second, I knew that I couldn’t change what had happened to me, but I could change me. I knew that the answer was to find something else to focus on, (apart from myself!).
This led to booking myself onto a local college course to initially train to be a fitness instructor which allowed me to really find myself and my confidence (All whilst wearing a wig). What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was gaining valuable knowledge about personal transformation that would prove to change the lives of many for years to come which obviously led to my career as a coach.
Other adversities followed including CFS, a diagnosis of hip dysplasia, and major surgery in my mid- 30’s. Oh, and my husband’s diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder which constantly threatens both his health and his sight. Even though these experiences were initially seemingly negative, they have hugely enhanced my knowledge and my life. I’ve discovered many beautiful gifts as a result and literally created a career as a result of adversity!
Being bald for fourteen years taught me that how we look isn’t as important as how we make others feel. CFS taught me the importance of self-care and taking time out. Major surgery and months of recovery taught me the importance of mindset. My husband’s genetic disorder has allowed us to see what is really important in life. As a result, we now live a life totally congruent with our values.
Wow, thank you for sharing that. It’s amazing to hear how you’ve turned your personal and family challenges into something that not only empowered you but now empowers others. As with life, there can be negative and positive experiences. What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome it?
I think losing my hair and watching my husband start to lose his sight were both very difficult. Losing my hair made me feel as if I’d been stripped both physically and emotionally. Watching my husband start to lose his sight was initially devastating. He struggled to see the faces of our children.
One evening I found him outside on the decking in the garden at night with tears streaming down his face because “the stars were beginning to disappear”. Every challenge that I have faced however has been overcome with EXACTLY the same strategy. Gratitude has always been the game-changer. When we are truly grateful for what we have, it decreases stress and allows us to see things from a fresh perspective.
Gratitude has always enabled me to see that I need to re-focus. We can’t always change what happens to us, but we can change how we react to our circumstances. I now firmly believe that adversity doesn’t break you, it makes you and that’s a choice.
What you have just said about being grateful really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing that incredible advice. Can you tell us, what you’ve learned from your own personal journey and what others should learn from it?
One of my biggest learnings has definitely been about the power of kindness. In my early wig-wearing days a total stranger came up to me and said that she loved my hair. She will never know how much that meant to me. Kindness is a huge part of my work and my life. A few kind words have the power to not only change someone’s day but their life. I regularly ‘prescribe’ Random Acts Of Kindness for my clients. When they experience the true joy of giving expecting nothing in return, it takes their life up to a whole new level and much happiness is experienced as a result.
The world is full of people who have been through or are going through difficult times. There are many people that we all come into contact with on a regular basis that need to know that they matter. Simply through kindness and giving our time we can all make a difference in this world. My biggest top tip is to imagine that everyone you meet has a sign on their head that says “Make Me Feel Important”. This is the simplest tool that brings that biggest joy to both giver and recipient.
I’ve also learned that we all have the ability to turn pain into power to live exceptional lives. Within every personal challenge, there are a huge amount of beautiful gifts waiting to be discovered. We just need to look hard enough to find them.
Your life ethos and belief in the power of kindness is something we all at BoxHuman live by. It’s an honour to be able to share and highlight humans like you. I’ve been told that you are a coach, speaker, and author. What is your book called and what inspired you to write it?
My book is called Strip Naked & Re-Dress With Happiness, How To Survive & Thrive Through Personal Challenge.
Having had a coaching practice working at full capacity for quite some time, I knew that I needed to find a way to share my knowledge with more people. The unique tried and tested knowledge that I had gained through my own challenges was obviously very powerful because it was and still does change many, many lives.
The thought-provoking title stems from my own personal experiences with ‘nakedness’. Getting ‘stripped back’ to what felt like nothing allowed me to start again and re-dress with more happiness than I ever thought possible. I believe that we need to ‘get naked’ to ‘get changed’. We need to get lost in order to find ourselves.
The book is a combination of my own personal story and self-help tips that will be invaluable to any reader wanting to triumph through adversity. It’s also proving to be very beneficial for those that simply want tips with regards to living the best possible life. I regularly get emails from people all over the world telling me how much my words have changed their life. Strip Naked & Re-Dress With Happiness is available on Amazon.
You’re a life coach, what is the best thing about being a life coach and what three expert tips would you give someone who is wanting to make a change in their life?
The best thing about being a coach is witnessing a transformation. To regularly witness clients changing their lives so positively and profoundly brings me such joy. You will often find me with tears pouring down my face at the end of a coaching programme with a client. Just seeing the light in their eyes and the fire in their belly touches my heart in a way I could not ever truly describe.
I’m a slightly unique coach in that I also have I seem to attract a lot of clients who are living limited lives as a result of childhood trauma or past experiences. Witnessing these transformations is very, very rewarding indeed. I seriously love my job and have no intention of ever retiring!
As for three tips for people wanting to change their lives, here we go:
1. Understand that change isn’t the enormous monster that we often perceive it to be. Change is simply a series of mini-steps that lead to the desired outcome. Start by taking one small step. It could even be as simple as a phone call or sending an email. Start by taking just one step. Then follow it up with another and another.
2. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t make this change?”. Then ask yourself “What will happen if I do?”. Associating pain to staying the same and pleasure to change will help to motivate you to take that first step!
3. Remember that life is short and we only get one chance. Every moment that we spend procrastinating about change steals a moment of happiness from our future. Living a life that has been designed by someone else will lead to a life of regret. Make sure you are living the life that you really want which is in alignment with your values!
Wonderful, inspiring, and useful advice, thank you so much for sharing that with us. To get to know you even more I want to ask you…What makes you smile and inspires you to be you on a daily basis and why?
Passionate and honest, authentic people make me smile; people who are not afraid to show vulnerabilities or imperfections. I will never forget a chance encounter with a stranger in the form of an elderly gentleman who decided to come and join my husband and me at a restaurant table a few years ago. He was evidently lonely and simply wanted to talk. I will never forget his words which were “I ain’t go no A’Levels, but what I do have is a good spirit level”. People with spirit make me smile. I always advise my clients to disregard looking for people of a suitable age and instead seek to spend time with people of a suitable spirit!
As for me being me? I’ve learned that life is far more rewarding when we accept ourselves for who we are. It’s much easier to just be me than try to be someone else. I’m inspired to be me by my own past experiences. Trying to fit in simply caused me stress. When I understood that we were never born to fit in but to stand out in our own beautiful ways it brought me great freedom! I would never want to lose that freedom!
If I could say something to someone to inspire and empower them it would be, “You are enough. You have always been enough. Don’t compromise your happiness to fit in, instead discover happiness by standing out”.
You are a motivational speaker who has certainly motivate me today. If someone wanted to become a motivational speaker how would they start to do this?
I want to find more ways to help people unleash their potential through adventure! Following a collaboration with intrepid-expeditions, I’m already taking 14 people to North Sweden next year to experience “Fire & Ice”. Participants will be experiencing activities such as cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and huskies. Around the activities, I will be delivering a personal development programme. Going out into the wild is transformational in itself; combining this with a personal development programme is very, very powerful! I want to do find more ways to combine extreme outdoor environments with personal development.
If someone wanted to be a motivational speaker my advice would be to think about what they have, that other people need. Why do people need to hear their stories or have their knowledge? Why do they need to share their words with the world? Knowing their ‘why’ will fuel them to achieve their goal. I’d then advise them to find someone to teach then to present powerfully! And finally, seek as many opportunities as possible to speak!
And what future life goals do you still want to achieve?
I’m also writing a new self-help book which I want to get published this coming year and I want to travel. I want to explore more of the world. I love to go off the beaten track for adventures! I’ve already visited many countries but have many more on my bucket list! Africa is my next goal!
Passionate. Energising. Kind. – Maria Hocking
And lastly, we believe BoxHuman is an empowered individual. They will not be defined by society’s labels. They show the better qualities of humankind, such as strength, kindness, and inspiration. Can you please tell us what makes you a BoxHuman?
I’m a BoxHuman as through adversity I have discovered huge strength which I now use to empower and help others. For me, success in life isn’t about the best job, the best qualifications, or the most money. Success for me is about living the best possible life and inspiring others around me to do the same. I’m so, so passionate about kindness that it’s a huge, huge part of my life and my mission is to inspire others to see that it can be a huge part of their lives too. I believe that life is about ‘living outside of ourselves’ and going above and beyond for others. We all have the ability to make the world a better place.
“Thank you, Maria.”
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