Principles of Living a Happy Life - Miles Hilton-Barber
Miles Hilton-Barber is a blind adventurer. With bags of energy and enthusiasm, Miles has travelled the globe (sometimes by microlight plane), undertaking feats that are truly amazing. Here Miles tells us the secrets to success and shares his top six life principles.
You have certainly taken on a lot of challenges, what’s the most difficult one you have faced?
Well, as you know I’m a blind adventurer so quite a few challenges. What is the most difficult thing I’ve done? Very hard to know! Certainly flying a microlight from London to Sydney was difficult - as a blind person, flying using my ears and not my eyes, that was very challenging.
I always wanted to be a pilot as a little boy growing up – I didn’t know I was going to go blind, and when I got the news, I thought that was the end of my dream to be a pilot. But I spent 55 days flying from London to Sydney, Australia. I nearly died a few times in little storms and odds and ends.
But the technology is a challenge, trying to listen to things like the compass! Also, trying to land was very tiring but very exciting. Certainly, an incredible challenge – flying an aeroplane is complicated enough when you’ve got stuff to help you and I had to do it all manually, but one of the great loves and joys of my life was finally landing in Sydney. It was the first time in world history that a blind person could fly and get more than half was around the world, and I hope more blind people get to fly as a result.
What makes you choose a particular adventure?
When I learnt that I was going blind aged 21 everyone said that’s it you’ve got a rubbish life ahead of you ‘’you can’t do this, and you can’t do that’’– can’t motor race, skydive, climb mountains, pull a sledge, so I’m all the time thinking ‘what do I have to differently as a blind person?’
Before I used to start with my blindness, I had a victim mentality, it would be ‘what can a blind person do – nothing!’. Now, I start with my dreams, I want to be a pilot, I want to skydive, so how can I fly if I can’t see? What do I do differently?
I don’t think I’ve ever been that good at anything, you know I haven’t won races or anything, but it’s been so much fun! Life is a beautiful gift. They say all of us have two lives and we only begin the second one when we realise that we only have one, and before I die I want to figure out how many things a blind person can do.
My message to my audience is, don’t be blocked in by circumstances, whether it be Brexit or America, forget all that – start with what your big dream is personally or for your company, and what you need to do differently to achieve it. Could I do a spacewalk, could I race a car? What would I do differently? Don’t be limited by what people have done in the past. There are no limits.
How has being blind affected you, and your attitude to life?
The biggest change in my life as a blind person is realising that quality of life isn’t based on circumstances, but our response to it. I used to think that to be happy I needed good sight, but if 20/20 vision means happiness then everyone driving around in a BMW or Ferrari should be grinning like Cheshire cats, but a lot of them have got a face like a bag full of spanners!
I learned that quality of life is not your circumstances but your attitude. Those that say they can’t, those who say they can, they’re both right, but the biggest battlefield in the world is in your head.
I learned from my brother, he’s also totally blind, but he, at the age of 50 helped me understand that quality of life is attitude and your response.
Don’t start with failures in the past ‘this is what my company did wrong’.
Say you want to double your market share – start with that! Then think ‘what do we do differently to get there.’ Impossible? Alright then – I’m going to kidnap your kids and not give them back until your double your market share. Now your thinking not ‘ I can’t!’ but ‘what am I going to differently to be able to do that’? (Don’t’ worry, I’m not going to kidnap your kids!)
We have only got one shot at life, and if it’s a rollercoaster we should sit at the front.
This fear of failing, not trying is worse. Failure is a temporary condition, it’s the giving up that makes it permanent.
Your quality of life is not your circumstances, it’s your response
Don’t allow your past to determine your future – FEAR – false evidence appearing real
Step outside your circle
I’ve failed at lots of things, but I’ll always give it another go
Teamwork - nothing is more important in life is people and relationships
The only limits are the ones you set yourself
What’s next for you?
A lot of people ask what I’m going to next. Life is about today, not yesterday or tomorrow!
In practical terms I’m hoping to set a new land record in a McClaren F1 Road car, trying to get to about 220 – 230 mph, but my biggest goal is trying to be a good father.
I’m only 68, I’m still running marathons, still setting goals and still looking for fun in life.
Life is exciting, get that bucket list and make a decision, all achievers are dreamers, but not all dreamers are achievers – get out and make it happen!