Q&A with Luke Ambler

For my first Q&A in the blog series I’m completely thrilled to have Luke Ambler tell us more about himself. It’s been a real privilege to chat with him and hear about his work and experiences. His brilliant social media campaign #itsokaytotalk has had all sorts of celebrities sharing pics, including David Beckham, Ricky Gervais, Norman Lang and Danny Cipriani. More importantly though, it’s got men talking about mental health.

Luke launched his #itsokaytotalk campaign after the suicide of his brother-in-law Andy Roberts. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. As a way to break the stigma Luke set up Andy’s Man Club, aimed at encouraging men from all walks of life to come and chat with other like-minded men. He saw that there was nowhere Andy could have spoken about what was going on in his life, and decided to create something that could have helped. The club started in Luke’s hometown of Halifax and is now all over the country.

Despite Luke’s own difficulties growing up in one of the toughest districts in Calderdale, he has overcome setbacks and turned them to good, helping others see that they too can rebuild themselves. He became a professional rugby player and Ireland international and is now focused on spreading his message to improve mental health. Luke works with prisons, schools and corporate organisations, teaching others about resilience and the importance of caring for your emotional health.

A big thank you to Luke for kicking off my series!

What is your motto for life?

WHAT’S NEXT? It’s a theory I came up with when I was having a real rough time with life. My professional rugby career was going downhill, me and my partner separated and I then made some wrong decisions and started going out drinking with friends to try and mask how I was feeling. It didn’t end well in one sense but was life changing in another because I got in to a fight and ended up getting thrown in a police cell. It was out of character and completely against all my values and beliefs. I realised that evening that all I was asking my self at the time was “WHY ME?”. Every time I asked this I got answers that seem to attract more negativity. I decided that day that if I wanted different answers I would ask a different question. That question became WHAT’S NEXT? That one question has made my life what it is today.

What is your current destination? 
I have many goals, I believe goals are vital in order for us to grow.
A few key areas I am working on right now are:
Me: I think we underestimate just working on ourselves. I am currently working on all areas of my self. My mind by reading and learning. Also a key focus right now is my body and keeping it is as healthy as possible. I think its vital to keep on top of your wellbeing whether that be you physical, mental or spiritual health.
My family: I don’t always get it right but I want to be the best dad and role model for my kids and my partner.
My business: I have a public speaking and emotional wellbeing business which I have grinded away on each day for 5 years and only now am I starting to reap the rewards. I am currently block booked until the new year with events all over the country and even as far as Madrid. I still wake up everyday and grind, it’s another motto of mine. I had a bit of fun recently and called it GRINDHOG DAY. Same grind different day. I believe its vital alongside a vision and a belief.
ANDYSMANCLUB: is the last of my 4 key areas. I want to keep growing our clubs and movement so all men and then women have a platform to talk on.

What advice do you have for your 16-year old self?

My advice would be to not take life too seriously. Life is going to have its ups ad downs but enjoy it all because it will be over before you know it. No matter what you face in life just know that it passes and always believe in yourself.

What three things are you most grateful for today? 

I am grateful for everything. It may sound corny or cliched but being grateful allows me to live a very happy life. I am grateful for the chance to open my eyes each day and get a chance at this beautiful thing called life.
I am grateful for my beautiful family and all they give to me. They are why I do everything I do.
I am grateful for my work and the fulfilment it grants me.
I am grateful for the men who come to our groups and share how they feel and seeing them change their life is a feeling I couldn’t even explain.

What are your natural highs?
The highs in life are holidays and quality time with my kids.
When I am delivering a talk. The feedback days and weeks after a talk, when a prisoner, a school pupil, a business person reaches out to me and tells me they used my WHAT’S NEXT theory to help them overcome an issue in their life.
Another high would be sat in the groups at AMC and knowing it has potentially stopped another family going through what we have been and continue to go through.

What gives your life balance? 
Balance is an area that I have really focussed on lately. I am getting some real benefits from it too. Balancing my voluntary commitment to AMC, my business and the most important my family, is often all quite difficult but of late I believe I have the best of all worlds.
The way I have done this is I now get up everyday at 4:30am regardless of where I am in the world. Even at a spa break with my partner this weekend. I find it gives me time to exercise straight away, send any emails, get planned for the day, think about all the things I am grateful for and be in a great state for the day ahead.. all before 6:30am. This then gives me time to help with the kids when I am home and get that quality time. I am not rushed or frantic or snappy as I am already ready and in a good place for them.

In terms of switching off I don’t really. I am obsessed with what I do and I put this key factor down to the success of the last couple of years. I believe you have to go ALL IN for whatever you want. My exercise in the morning does allow some me time. Also time with the kids and the missus is great and I love when we go on holiday.

What makes you laugh?
My kids. They make me laugh everyday with something they say or do. They are just amazing to be around and always guaranteed to some how make me laugh.

What is your proudest achievement? 
The journey of ANDYSMANCLUB would certainly be up there. We now have 15 clubs all over the UK and our goal was 10 in 5 years. We have done this as volunteers, none of us get paid and we’ve never had any government funding. We just wake up each day and try to make a difference. Andy’s mum, Elaine, has been amazing and it is incredible to be able to go in every day as a volunteer and work on this movement in memory of her son. She blows me away with her strength and courage.
Personally I think my proudest achievement is my kids and family and watching them grow in to beautiful young people. They have a great role model in my partner, Lisa. Lisa lost her brother, Andy, yet she in the same year after dealing with all that managed to get her 1st class degree as a nurse, start a Job and open her own business. So my biggest and proudest achievement is definitely my family.

Who in your life has influenced you the most?

My dad if I had to chose one. He brought me and my brother up from when him and my mum separated. He is not only my dad he is my best friend. He has and still always does go beyond and above for me and my brother. He is someone who instilled hard work in to me and even to this day he works harder than anyone I have ever met and I am privileged to have him as a dad. If I can be half the man he is, I will be happy. Words wouldn’t do what my dad has been through or done for us any justice. One word to sum him up would be LEGEND. He is a Legend and always will be my hero.
My mum is also a huge influence and is the reason I do what I do within mental health. She is so strong and courageous to live with the mental health conditions she has. She also goes beyond and above and is so compassionate and caring. They both have played their own key role on me and I couldn’t have better parents.

Which five people, living or dead, would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?

I would always go family as I love a family dinner but if it was a one chance invite anyone, it would have to be…
Michael Jackson, Muhammed Ali, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs.
I think that would make for real good conversations. All in some way, shape or form I look up to.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
Right, this is something very little people know but I think its a good secret to share.
I have OCD.
It involves me touch things a certain amount of time or having to walk on certain lines or turn a certain way. To some it’s a little odd and it is to me. Some times I can really control it and at others I am shocking. It’s just a funny little one for you that very few people know, some old team mates used to notice but I would always play it down. So yeah that is certainly something no one knows about me. Ha!

To find out more about Luke Ambler’s work see his instagram @lukeambler and website. To find out more about Andy’s Mans Club and the #itsokaytotalk campaign visit their website and instagram.

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