Robert Ian Bonnick was an abandoned child who went from nothing to everything. He spoke to Tony Stanton about how. Photo: Otkidach Anastasiya. Styling: Angie Angorro.
Robert … I’m not sure where to start this. You’re tall and charismatic, you’re an author, a life coach, you’ve worked with supermodels and represented your country as a sportsman at the highest level. So where would you start this interview?
Maybe with … ‘What is one of the most powerful insights you have gleaned from all these experiences?’ No matter a person’s appearance from the outside – good looking, confident, high self-esteem, rich or famous, we are all the same on the inside. We all have our own specific challenges we either address or run away from. Looking back on my early years, even though I felt happy, I never felt I was enough, I had self-esteem challenges, chronic shyness and jealousy of others. I also stuttered, hated the way I looked and felt less than worthy.
By all accounts you had a pretty shitty start in life. Tell us about that.
Shortly after being born my elder sister and I were basically left by our mum on the doorstep of a distant relative in London. It was where our father was living at the time as we waited for him to come home. A short time after that we found ourselves in St Bernardo’s orphanage (I was six months old or so). From around two years of age we were moved to a long-stay children’s home in London where I stayed for sixteen more years. However, as you will understand if you read this article all the way through – I experienced a different outcome.
How important is your name to you?
As a parent now, even though my partner Marina chose our kids’ names, I understand the difficulty of creating a name. From this point of view I honour my parents’ choice and my name is important to me – which I also happen to like. Outside of this a lot of people call me by one of my nicknames anyway.
You’re a motivational speaker, right? In your opinion what’s the single most important aspect or attitude to life that will help a person get on?
An attitude of gratitude.
When did you realise you wanted to help people visualise their dreams and make them happen?
These seeds were planted young before I was 15 years of age whilst growing up in children’s homes. If space permits I can divide this up into the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. Firstly the how . . . I was shy growing up and the youngest of the 18 kids which could stay in the children’s home at one time. I spent a lot of time alone or just observing. I spent time in the company of communicative, observant women too which taught me how to listen. These factors were crucial. I learnt how to analyse people’s behavior and patterns. Consequently I would be that guy at school who was good at listening and solving people’s problems.
Now for part of the why . . . I experienced the broken dreams, helplessness, self-esteem challenges and violent natures of fellow orphans but also their triumphs. In their best light these kids also invested time in me, teaching what they did well, like how to play football, fight or dance. Also describing where they had failed or let themselves down. Seeing this (one was shot in the head) broke my heart. I felt a sense of duty to discover the best in people and help them succeed not fail.
Do you think you’ve been successful because of the way you look?
That would be part of it but the bigger part would be my attitude to life and the people around me.
Hypothetically I’m a 45-year-old man in an unhappy marriage stuck in a job I don’t like and not earning enough money. I’m overweight and cynical about life. I hate everything. What would you say to me?
I work quite intuitively but depending how deep down the rabbit hole you are:
– I’d remind you how to tune in, meditate or quieten your mind.
– Remind you of how life can work / the nature of thought and how it creates your reality.
– Find out what drives you, turns you on and help connect you to your dreams and desires, for example.
– Remind you to visualise with emotion, intention and purpose.
– Remind you how to overcome speed bumps to achieve your dreams.
– Remind you which part time plays in attaining this new reality.
Who is the single most interesting and fulfilled person you have ever met?
Two names spring instantly to mind: Mahamandeleswar Nitychanada, an Indian Meditation Master (amongst other things) and a friend here in Bali called Kai Jordan.
Tell us how you ended up on this island…
Marina, myself and our kids were living in Sydney and we reached the stage where that great city which I love was becoming too difficult (especially after our second baby Almira came along). It was actually Marina who suggested we spend some time in Bali. I had happy memories of my last visit to Bali some 20 plus years prior so I was more than prepared to take the leap.
What do you plan to do here?
As a family we’d love to invest in property here. Personally, I’m focused on spreading a positive message through speaking, coaching and community collaboration. Such as our Monday night “Speak-uP” at our concept store, Lyfe in Bali (in Tamora Gallery, Berawa) featuring transformational speakers. In July for Speak-uP #10 we featured a Q & A with the first Indonesian woman, Mathilda Dwi Lestari, to climb the world’s seven highest mountains, including Mt Everest. At Tamora Gallery I’ll continue to community-build through weekly events such as Kids Sunday to annual events like the Berawa Food and Wine Festival. Finally, Bali VIP Concierge will give me the opportunity to share how beautiful, special and unique Bali is with a larger collective of friends living overseas.
You’re a father of two children. I’m curious: what would the post-dad Robert say to the pre-dad Robert?
Great question . . . I truly understand that I am a product of all of the learning experiences, successes and challenges that I have had so far. Having said all that preparedness was lacking when it came to solid financial habits/education. I remember a time when, by my standards, I earned a great deal of money – but instead of investing it or being a great custodian of it – I couldn’t get rid of it fast enough! Having a family now has brought me into contact with that, repeatedly.
Another one would be being comfortable way sooner to take even greater risks and embrace life fully, to breathe through challenges as the answers always appear. The importance of spending quiet or reflective time in order to tap into your creative flow and finally not to be afraid of feeling seemingly negative emotions.
Who is Robert Ian Bonnick when he is being the best he can be?
An adventurous, fulfilled, charismatic, free spirited human being who effortlessly attracts to him all resources and materials he needs to move to the next level of creating an incredible life for himself and his family. A man deeply connected to source, who treats everyone the same (which is . . . very well) regardless of their background, skin colour, ideology, religious or political beliefs. A man who makes everyone feel comfortable around him, inspires self-mastery, inner fulfillment and the understanding that transformation is part of who we are and that we can achieve anything.
Amen to that.