Martin Norton is the Chief instructor at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. He’s really passionate about the outdoors, encouraging people to get outside away from their day to day lives, computers and phones and getting back to nature.
What was the path that lead you to today?
The path that led me to where I am now has been a long and bumpy one! My environment, my own self-doubt and lack of confidence kept me from pursuing my dreams when I was younger. I didn’t believe I could achieve anything purposeful in my life. I was always ambitious, working for promotions in jobs (I hated) but never feeling fulfilled. I had always trained and taught martial arts. This turned into a real passion for me and this was my start for change. I was inspired by some people I met and saw there was more to life. Then my son was born and that changed everything. I wanted to become a role model to my son and lead by example and inspire him as my heroes had inspired me. I believe you can be and do what you want, you just have to focus, work hard and go for it 100%. That’s what I love about my job. The outdoors teaches people they are more capable than they think!
Who inspired you to do what you do?
There are a few people who inspired me and still do!
Bruce Lee was someone that influenced me when I was very young, his presence on his films inspired me to train and keep fit. Later in life I discovered there was a lot more to the man and enjoyed his philosophy on life.
Lots of the friends I have made when I trained inspired me. I was fortunate to travel a bit and meet people from all walks of life and this opened my eyes.
People like Tony Robbins have had a huge impact on my life and I still actively watch and listen to him now when I need some motivation. Bear inspired me to pursue a career in the outdoors and inspired me to go for it. A good Friend of mine Jason has always supported and encouraged me to pursue my goals and always believed in me! Cheers buddy!
What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?
Self-doubt and confidence. I thought life only happened to other people. I thought I couldn’t do it! I had to change my conditioning, beliefs and decide I wanted more.
Being a dad and having a part to play in him growing up and developing into a good, kind and caring man. Setting goals and achieving them despite not being the cleverest, smartest or most qualified. Just having the determination to go for it.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Get up early, work hard, be good, believe in yourself and go for it!
No matter what the obstacles, problems or barriers are, set the right intention, be kind and just keep going, we are more capable then we believe we are!
Oh yes and have as much fun as you can whilst doing it!
Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?
Getting outdoors is so important these days, the world of smart phones, computers and long work hours are causing so much stress and unhappiness in our day to day lives. We need to reconnect with nature. The colours, smells and fresh air are so good for your body and mind. I think when people are outdoors, they all become the same; money, the car you drive, what job you do does not matter, it is a great leveller. The outdoors forces us to be present, in the moment and reconnect with ourselves.
Turn your phone off and go out for a walk!
Amongst all the endeavours you have been involved with, which is the most unforgettable and why?
I am very lucky and fortunate to travel and see many places and different cultures. I have been on many adventures and memorable trips. But there are 2 unforgettable things that stick in my head:
- I took my boy to the Dolomites with some friends and he was the youngest by about 10 years, he was 15 at the time. It was our last day climbing and we had to walk up a Ski slope to get to the start of our climb. The road was very steep and some of the group dropped out as it was hard going and he was struggling! The climb was not easy either and we lost some more guys on the way up (not lost! but they headed back). But my boy did not give up, and although he hardly talked to me the whole way, and was quite upset with me, he showed great determination and a strength to me, and himself and made it to the top!
- I love running BGSA survival courses for many reasons, but there are moments on a course that make you realise what a powerful setting they are to build relationships and getting people back to basics. There is nothing like the feeling of watching a bond grow between a child and parent on the course. The parent is amazed by their child’s willingness to get stuck in and the child seeing their parent as a hero, lighting fires and tree swinging into water! Or watching two adults on a course from completely different walks of life that would never meet or cross paths, become the best of mates and stay friends long after. It is amazing to watch and a privilege to be part of that!
Why is this particular project so important to you?
This project is a great platform for people to open up and give their story, there are lots of amazing people out there with a story to tell that could benefit others. I would like to think that these stories resonate with people. I hope that the stories encourage, motivate and inspire people to want more out of life. You can do it, whatever “it” is. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story and hope I may spark something in someone!
Who has been an unsung hero in your life?
A good friend of mine Jason!
Do you have a motto you live by?
Live life on your terms! Have Fun, be Good, stay humble and keep going!