I’ve spent a fair bit of time racking my brain, trying to find a way to tell my story. It could go on and on. I love telling stories you see. And my life has been full of them – life experiences that have led me to where I am right now.
Hopefully I can pull out the relevant ones here. Share them with you. The ones that will help you learn about me.
Given my penchant for simplifying things, I have tried to do that here. Turned 40 years into a 4-minute read. It was tough. But I hope it provides some insight on me that will push you to find some insight on you.
And if you don’t have 4 minutes? Just jump to the last point – find out exactly who Chris Hancock is, and why I’m truly passionate about helping you. Told you I made things simple, right?
I grew up in a tiny little town on the coast of Namibia. I couldn’t have really asked for a better, more beautiful place to be. I would spend my early years camping in the middle of nowhere, with wild animals and plants and trees all around me. Nature and I.
I’d disappear in the wilderness for days and my parents never had to worry about me. At times you’d feel kind of isolated living in a place like that. But mostly it was more invigorating than isolating. And anyway, isolation can be cool.
I was the shy, quiet one at school. Not many friends. A lot of time by myself. Which I preferred.
At 12, I changed schools and was surrounded by older, bigger kids. I was a loner. My small size, my shyness, made me an easy target. I was picked on.
It went on a while. And, looking back now, I can picture that first ‘fuck it’ moment. It was time for a little payback. These older, bigger kids noticed important homework assignments going missing. Their personal stuff would disappear and reappear in random places. Really smelly things would find their way into their school bags.
I never got caught but I think they knew it was me. Soon after, I was left alone. They gave me a wide berth.
At 15 we moved to South Africa, eventually settling in Cape Town when I was 17. I hated my new school. Hated school in general. So I convinced my father to let me go to college and do an electrical apprenticeship. He agreed. I got a part time job as a waiter to earn some cash while studying.
Working as a waiter was the perfect fit me for me. I loved the job. So much so that I stopped college and took on waitering full time. I met some great people. And working in a restaurant really helped overcome my shyness. I found a new confidence. I felt better. Like I was finally going places.
And I was. Personally and physically.
By 18 I was living in my own place. I had my own car. I had some savings. It was time to see more of the world. Hit the road. Open my eyes. Explore.
As soon as I arrived in London, I loved it. I mean seriously loved it – the big city, the buzz, the people – it fascinated me.
I only planned to be away from South Africa for six months or so. I didn’t return for four and a half years. I travelled through Europe and the US. I met and partied with some of the most amazing people. People like me, who wanted to explore, learn, experience and grow.
But the problem with meeting and befriending such great people is that one day you have to say goodbye. I didn’t like doing that. I fell into a repeat pattern of meeting great people, bonding with them. Then saying goodbye. Eventually this got to me. I decided to head home and settle down. No more goodbyes.
I was happy to be home but deep down it always felt temporary. I don’t know why. Just a feeling I had. That something else would happen. And it turned out to be right.
Because I lost everything. A business. My house. My car. Friends. I lost them through bad luck, wrong decisions. I didn’t handle it well. I hid in a pub. I felt lost. Angry. Bitter.
A few months later I woke up on a mattress with my dog. In a strange house with strange people. Not where I wanted to be. I had to sort myself out.
Back to waiting. I buried myself into it. I worked every shift I could. Seven days and six nights a week. I functioned better with an occupied mind.
The UK came calling again. I wanted to move back. After six months working my ass off and saving, I landed at Heathrow with £100 in my pocket. After a couple of weeks reacquainting myself with old friends and camping on their sofas, I found a decent job outside London. I found a place to stay. I left my passport as a deposit as I had no cash. I used the curtains in my room as a blanket and my backpack as a pillow. And I shared the house with some really dodgy characters. If it wasn’t so obvious that I didn’t have anything, they would have mugged me for sure.
I learnt one thing during this stage of my life – when you have really, absolutely nothing, you really, absolutely don’t give a single shit. And when you don’t give a single shit, you become super focussed. Single minded.
So I started my new job and in the first week I smashed every company sales record that existed.
Things were looking up?
A few days later the boss accused me coming of back from my break five minutes late. My manager spoke to him, explained that I was actually five minutes early as I’d taken a late call just before my break. The bossman looked at me, ‘fine, get back to work’, he grumbled. I was pissed. Really pissed. A few days earlier I made him a whole heap of money and now he was treating me like this. So I walked away.
Like I said, when you have had nothing for so long, you just don’t give a shit.
As luck would have it, I ran into an old friend of mine from my days working the bars in London. He was now high up in the industry and got me a job as a trainee assistant manager at a nightclub in London. They had a two-year training program that took you from trainee to General Manager.
I worked my ass off so I could progress as fast as possible. And six months later I was a General Manager. I had my own pub, a generous pay package and an awesome house as part of the deal. For the first time in a long time I felt like I wasn’t running away from anything. Or chasing something. Life was good. For a long time.
Fast forward ten mostly successful, mostly happy years. Fast forward to one day. There I was. The highest paid General Manager in the company, running the busiest, most successful venue. I was in Birmingham. Our company conference was about to begin. One of the directors started speaking. I looked around the room. Then all of a sudden it hit me. I don’t know what exactly. And why. But it hit me. Whatever it was. And I had to leave. So that’s what I did. I picked up my bag.
And I left.
The next morning I called my boss. I simply said, ‘I’m out’. A month later my wife and I were in Australia celebrating her birthday with her family. We travelled for much of the year after that. Kitesurfing in Egypt, skydiving in Spain, snowmobiling in Iceland, onto Canada, USA, Hawaii, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Dubai.
Dubai was something different. A booming, bustling place. We decided to stay. We got decent jobs. We had a house 100m from the beach. Life was calm. Life was good.
But it didn’t take long for things to change. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was wasn’t happy. I was anxious, not myself. I struggled to feign interest in anything. Each day become a battle. Me v Me. It was always a draw. No winner.
One day I was standing on the roof of our apartment building. My mind racing at 100mph and I just thought ‘I cant do this, this is not me’. And I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed. When I got back inside, I saw my wife had written a little ‘to do’ list for herself. One of the items – ‘help husband find his happy.’
She was right. I had to find my happy.
A month later we moved back to the UK. We settled into the house I had bought years before on the Cornish Coast. Settled. That was how I needed to feel.
And things just started to flow from there. I felt positive. Things were slowly moving in the right direction. Instead of one step forward, two steps back, it was two steps forward, one step back. I started eating properly. I stopped drinking. I started exercising. I got a coach and I started focussing on figuring out what I wanted to do.
I’ve always been quite hard on myself. I would punish myself for the mistakes I made. I never once stopped to take note of the good stuff I’ve done. If someone gave me ten kind compliments and one disparaging one, I’d only ever remember the disparaging one. I always concentrated on my weaknesses. Never on my strengths.
Part of the reason I started working with a coach was to identify my strengths. I soon learned that most of my strengths centered around people. I love seeing people happy and successful. I love seeing them do well. I love helping them. And it turns out that I have helped many people over the years without thinking about it, without realising it.
At work I’d built great teams. And people would stay in that team for years longer than the industry norm. People have told me that that I have a knack for making them feel important and special. That I put them in positions where they can develop more than they ever imagined possible.
They have said that I am good at putting things in perspective – simplifying problems, offering solutions. They said I was unafraid and fearless, straightforward and honest. And that I swore a lot. Didn’t take shit or tolerate bullshit excuses.
And that is who I am. I am Chris Hancock.
These revelations helped me. The kinds words from friends and colleagues moved and inspired me. And my coach had a thought. Why don’t I do a coaching course?
And from there, finally, finally, life has clicked. Plans have grown. Things have started to slot into place.
So here I am.
I have a passion now…
…to help people to not sell themselves short.
To not be too hard on themselves when shit goes sideways.
To not accept the status quo or resist change.
To not be afraid to tell someone to get lost.
To understand that a good experience is often masked in a bad experience. To realise there’s more to life than eat, sleep, work, repeat.
To understand that being lost is not forever and can lead to great discoveries.
And to realise that, if you are ready and willing and able, you can find your happy too.