Sam Cawthorn

Sam's story was compiled from a number of sources including a recorded interview between Sam and the researcher, articles published electronically and exerts from Sam's book "Bounce Forward".


Sam was 26 years old when his life changed forever. He experienced a devastating motor-vehicle accident which left him in a coma and with many traumatic injuries including an amputated right arm and impaired right leg. This was in addition to a range of internal injuries which continued to threaten his life. Doctors did not give Sam very promising hope for the future, telling him that he would never walk. This story is not uncommon. People have accidents and receive traumatic injuries everyday with the result of permanent disability.

Decision to bounce forward

However Sam was determined to defy the odds and lead a productive, meaningful life. A decision was before Sam! He knew he could either live as a victim of a tragic accident or make a decision to grab the opportunity of life. A year later he was taking his first steps into a new life and providing hope, inspiration and motivation to other people.

Sam today

Today Sam is a busy highly successful keynote speaker, businessman and philanthropist. He reaches masses of people at a global level each year. He is described as a "very motivational and inspirational speaker" Sam inspires people to "bounce forward through difficult times" rather than bounce back into their life as before. He is described as having the "unique ability to transform impossibilities into possible realities". Sam's recovery was not about getting back to where he been before the accident. He used the accident as an opportunity to "bounce forward", springboard toward greater things.

Nowadays Sam speaks to a range of corporate and community members across the world about experiencing challenges and setbacks in a manner which finds and creates an opportunity. Sam is described as a thought leader in resilience and positive psychology.

Sam reports "I travel all over the world... every single day, and I speak at conferences and conventions and coach people as well , everything from resilience to positive psychology, to motivation, to peak performance, even everything from learning stage craft and being a professional speaker, and being commercially smart and making a difference to humanity. I have my own business, I have a great team here, and we are doing pretty cool things around the world."

Sam as an author

Sam has written six books. His latest book is called'Bounce Forward' which deals with how to transform crisis into success. The book can be purchased at:

As Sam writes in his book, every crisis presents us with an opportunity which we can choose to take or not:

"Downturn is the time between the crisis and rock bottom. In the downturn you have only two choices. You can slide to rock bottom or you can choose to act sooner rather than later and use the distance and momentum between where you are now and rock bottom to bounce " (Cawthorn, 2013, P.xxiii)

Sam chose to be a "living demonstration of the transformational power of bouncing forward". In line with his belief Sam viewed his own crisis as an opportunity he writes: "I was being broken free of the car and at the same time I was breaking free from my past too" (Cawthorn 2013p.xxiv)

Various roles

Sam originates from country Tasmania and describes himself as a high school dropout. He was awarded Young Australian of the year for Tasmania in 2009.

Sam's background is within the Australian Federal government as Youth Futurist. He is a skilled musician despite having an above elbow amputation (plays plays guitar with one hand) and is said to have the most advanced bionic arm in the world which he programs with his iPhone 5.

He has set up his own charity supporting people with a disability in some of the poorest places across the world.

Motivation is about why

Sam believes that motivation is more about the 'why' we do than what we do, Why do we wake up of a morning, each and every day? What is our cause, our belief, and why should anyone care? Most people think that our "why" is to create profit, or to earn money, but Sam says the money is a result, it always has been a result, there's no cause or meaning tied to that. He asks, why do we do what we do? Why do we wake up of a morning each and every day? Why are we working for this person? Why do we study? Why do we go to school? why? Because, most people actually don't have solid clarity on their why and if we did have solid clarity on our why, that is where our intrinsic motivation comes from . So when you asked me how I have done what I have done it's actually because I have solid clarity on my why. I know why I exist, I know why I wake up of a morning each and every day, I know what my destiny is, my purpose is, why I am on this planet. And so it all comes down to our why.

Finding purpose

"I have a very strong faith, I am alive today, and I don't want to just exist, I want to live, and I think that we all have deep down within us – we all have this thing that we want to go out and help other people, value and contribute and make a difference, and it's whatever fire you stoke. If I focus on everything that's going wrong in my life, that's how I'm going to feel. If I focus on the opportunities, the possibilities, the potential, that's how I'm going to feel! So whatever we focus on is how we feel. I'm not focusing on my disability or my pain; I'm not focusing on what I can't do, and the frustrations; I'm not focusing on everything that's going wrong, I'm focused on why I'm alive, I'm focusing on that I have kids out there that love me, I'm focused on that I have people out there that love me and support me and want to learn from me. So, it's wherever my focus is . If I focused on everything that's going wrong, my disability and everything, that's how I'm going to feel, and I probably wouldn't be able to get out of bed each morning."

Change as a choice

Contrary to what people may think "I haven't been surrounded by people who encouraged me. I do know many people that live with a disability, that are going out there and achieving amazing things. They're doing awesome things. And then I have some other people that are living with a disability, and they're quite comfortable in their life of negativity, depression, anxiety, stress, etc... they're quite happy with it, and they actually don't want to change. Now, if people do want to change, then I will give them an action plan. But if they don't want to change, I believe that we are wasting our time."

"For people who don't have any sense of wanting to change! I think we need to inspire and actually give them a sense of idea that things are possible .They might think that things are impossible. So, first of all, we need to inspire them and say, "Look, it is possible. Things are possible if you do this, this, this, this and this, there's just going to be a result." So at the moment they probably cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. So we need to inspire them and say, "Look, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and give them an idea of possibility rather than impossibility."


© Sam Cawthorn 2015. Except as provided by the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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