Joe Cross picked me up at a party in Australia, when I was backpacking with a girlfriend around the world, just before my 18th birthday. It wasn’t a bad party but when Joe swaggered up to me and suggested that we split, we did. I took Lottie with me. Just in case. We squeezed into Joe’s fast car and caught a glimpse of Joe’s fast life. Money, booze, drugs and lots of rock and roll, except it was more George Michael than rock and roll (what were we all thinking?). He was outrageous. He was fun. He was generous. He was Australian after all.
I had made a lifetime friend.
Every year after I met Joe he became more successful – and his waistline grew with that success. Grew and grew. Until one day Joe decided that was enough and he began a personal journey, which he recorded and turned in to a film called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Through a 60-day juice fast Joe lost 100lbs. And the fast life.
From that experience, and the exposure of his vulnerable journey to a huge audience, Joe developed a mega-successful new business and a new, and he stresses, happier life.
In his own words:
“How many people over the age of 35 all over the world have got up and looked in the mirror and thought, You are a disgrace. You are a fat, ugly old loser?” He answers it himself: “Too many!” He continues–“That in my opinion is not a good way to start the day. We are our own speed bumps on our own journey to success. If we only would get out of the way of ourselves we could get where we really want to be.”
“And how do we do that?” I ask him.
“It is really about acceptance,” he says. “Accepting that we are not perfect and learning how to focus on the bits that are good and then on the little bits that we can change. We need to look for all the great things, the good things, the special things. Then, if we see too many pounds we should be positive. Instead of attacking ourselves we should ask, how are we going to tackle that? and make a plan and start today.”
Since Joe made the documentary he has met a myriad of people who want to lose weight. They are all quick to open up to him, because he believes he exposed his own weaknesses in his film. The effort and the honesty required to do that meant that immediately he had earned their respect.
Before long, he confides, he discovered that there is always a common theme to their woes. There are two relationships in their lives that are broken: the first is their relationship with themselves and the second is their relationship with food. Joe should know. He was often bullied at school so he turned to sugar for support. “Sugar never let me down on the playground,” he admits. And it’s a tough habit to break. But he did it. “Its about finding out which foods you have a relationship with – if they are the bad kind, then cut them out.”
What does he think has made him have this extraordinary ability to change his life? His answer is typically Ozzie – direct and practical. “Everybody’s life is extraordinary – so I am not alone – but I have been successful in reaching my goals because I tend to look for what is good and not concentrate too much on the bad.”
But is he ever scared of failure? “Of course I am! I wouldn’t be human if not. But my magic word is ‘perspective.’ For me ‘scared’ is becoming caught up in the detail. So I take a step back, get the broader perspective and immediately the detail gets massaged out.”
“If you want a happier life it all starts with those little conversations in the mirror.”
Through courage, determination and vision my mate Joe has now changed not only his life, but thousands of other lives for the better. His story is quite simply extraordinary.