Paralympian’s inspiring book for children

November 26, 2021 by Elana Bowman
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Paralympic medal-winning swimmerMatt Levy’s new book for children Brandon Dreams Big has been launched on Zoom.

Matt Levy is one of Australia’s longest Paralympic swimming representatives. He first competed for Australia in 2003 where he broke the 200-metre freestyle Short Course World Record. He’s competed at five Paralympic Games and has most recently won the gold medal in the men’s four by 100-metre freestyle, and a bronze medal in the 100 metres breaststroke at the Tokyo Paralympics. 

Matt Levy has survived 46 operations. Remarkably, the visually impaired athlete has swum his way to seven Paralympic medals.

Living through lockdown, Matt wrote and published this book, won his paramount Paralympics gold, and completed an MBA.

The event was launched by Peter Merrett from House of Wonderful and had participants including family, friends, book worms, Jaqui Lane from The Book Adviser, as well as a few kids asking questions.

Brandon Dreams Big is a continuation of his first book (Keeping Your Head Above Water) and is a children’s friendly version. The book is to help promote potential and goal setting.

Matt talked about having that goal of representing the country at such a young age, he first had that dream back in 2000. “While Watching the Sydney Paralympic Games and as watching people with disabilities, then myself and to finally stand on the dais in 2008.”

The message of the book is out there to the young generation, the children.

 It has seven steps to reach your goals. It’s really having that passion, first and foremost. Once you find the passion and have that passion, it’s finding out what can I do to get to that end state? And what can I do? What goals can I set in place to make that passion come alive?

“And for me, it started with the pool. It started in 2000. And it still is there today. My passion never started as wanting to represent Australia, it was all to do with health and fitness, and being the best version of myself I can be. That kind of morphed into competing for my country. So I think it’s an evolving process. But it definitely started with a passion and a belief in what I can do and what I want to do. That’s the essence of goals, in essence being successful is having that passion and that drive, and then all the rest flows from there”

“I chose the name Brandon for the book because I just liked the name. The book is a piece of my journey. 

The book is aimed at seven to 14 years old. But really the way it’s written is really nice for everyone. It just has such a simple message.

This book talks about the success principle and what I kind of went through throughout my life. What you need to do is to to be your very best. It’s really about remembering why you started in the first place and why you had that dream of doing that project, or had that dream of starting that company, or whatever it may be. And then it makes it far easier to go through those steps to get there because you’re not going to get success without doing the work, it just doesn’t work like that.

Matt Levy Facebook

It’s really about remembering why you started and what you’re what you’re doing and the journey that you’re you’re going on. I try to remember that each time I don’t want to get out of bed, each time I don’t want to do those extra laps. I remember why I’m doing what I’m doing for I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for all those people watching at home, all those people watching around the world. They’re watching for a particular purpose, to see you do well. So you want to do the best you can with what you have. If you can put your best foot forward every time you think of a goal, or you’re doing an activity, it makes it all that better in the process towards it.

I hope that I can mentor people by what I  put forward and the actions I take. Not so the ones I speak about, but it’s really about the actions we take as human beings that really stand out. Not the words that we put on paper because it’s really easy to mentor anyone, it needs to be actionable. You need to be bound, they need to be able to see you doing that particular activity or doing something similar. It’s really about showing that they’re capable of anything and showing that anything is possible with not only your words but also your actions as well, whatever the different circumstances. 

My inner circle, my friends, my family, that I have around me support me I think, is the biggest part of me being successful. It’s not me individually, it’s a collective. And it’s the people that I engage with on a daily basis who give me feedback; negative, positive, or indifferent that has enabled me to reach the highest impact. Without that, it would have been very difficult to write a book or compete for my country and all of that. The people I can bring on the journey with me.

I think the best advice both for and from me would be, don’t waste an opportunity. Don’t waste what you’ve got and what you get. We only get 64,000 odd seconds a day. We can’t go to the bank and cash it in. We all only have a certain amount of years to live our lives. And it’s really all about making the most of what we’ve got no matter what that is. It’s different for everyone. That’s the biggest thing I could probably think I have to relate to my 12-year-old self and yes it’s okay to fail as well. Just remember to learn and grow throughout those experiences. What keeps me grounded, is the knowledge that I get from achieving my goal. It’s about the learnings and the lessons along the way towards my goal, it keeps me grounded because they’re all like these mini-goals towards that big goal.

My other book (Keeping Your Head Above Water) is aimed at helping future generations towards their own success, because I think if we didn’t leave this world with something, no matter what that is, it’ll be a lot richer. We end up like a swing into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. But we can have a lot of experiences and lessons along the way. And the books are part of that enriching process.

I think the biggest piece of advice that I’ve been given is to not focus on the outcome, but focus on the process. As an athlete, we’re taught a lot about our goals about performances and that kind of thing. It’s really important to block out that all that negative talk, to really work on the process. 

I was taught pretty early to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. In a different sport, business or in life, it’s really about focusing on the journey towards the goal and how to get there. And not just focus on the outcome, because a lot of times in my competitive career, I focused on the times or on whatever may be at the end of the rainbow. We can’t worry about what our competitors are doing and saying.

But we can worry about ourselves. We can always control our own emotions, what we do and how we act ourselves.

To buy the book: 

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