Your identity is separate from your past.
Throughout life, we often allow our sense of identity to shape ourselves and the actions we take. Most think that we can’t deviate from the path laid out in front of us, and that others are more deserving of freedom and prosperity than we are. But it’s possible to turn your life around. Each of us can use our past experiences to not only change our own lives, but to also change the lives of others.
Meet Lewis Raymond Taylor. Before becoming the successful entrepreneur he is today, a compromised sense of identity left him fighting to dictate his own life. After suffering from mental illnesses, bereavement, and a suicide attempt, Taylor felt like there was nothing left for him.
Just five years ago, he was released from his third prison sentence. Today, he spearheads The Coaching Masters, a multiple 7-figure coach training academy spanning 47 different countries across the world. Taylor helps thousands create a positive impact in the world through online life coaching. In this exclusive interview, Taylor shares how to create a positive identity, grow a successful online coaching business, and become someone who makes the world a better place, no matter what your past looks like.
Celinne Da Costa: Tell me about your upbringing.
Lewis Raymond Taylor: I grew up near London in a place called Hertfordshire with an emotionally disconnected mother and a violent, abusive father. He would frequently verbally abuse me, call me a buffoon, and tell me that I’d never amount to anything. Because I lacked that connection with my parents, I developed a need for attention and decided to get it by becoming famous. I pursued acting classes and it gave me what I wanted immediately.
That was until I was sexually abused by one of the older men within the school. I immediately dropped out, but I still had that need for attention. I resorted to causing criminal damage: shoplifting, smashing windows and causing chaos. Even negative attention was attention, and that set me off on the wrong path.
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I started hanging with the wrong crowd, got into drugs, and my crimes got worse. By the age of 14, I had an antisocial behavioral order. It meant I was banned from public areas and had a curfew. At 15, I was expelled from school for being rebellious. And at 18, I ended up in a youth prison after stealing a van, having a police chase, and crashing it into two parked cars.
Da Costa: Why did you continue to self-sabotage?
Taylor: After I came out of prison, I wanted more for my life. My circumstances weren’t something that I chose. But there was a recurrent voice in my head telling me that I’m not good enough. It kept leading me down the path of bad behavior because it’s what my dad used to tell me all the time.
At 18, I fell in love for the first time and finally felt significant. But when she cheated on me, my deepest fears were confirmed, and a violent suicide attempt landed me in a mental institution. Just a few years later, a psychiatric assessment diagnosed me with antisocial personality disorder. I had everyone telling me I was bad: from my dad, to my school, to the police. I felt like there was nothing left for me.
Things got worse as my dad got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After six months, he whittled away into a tiny, frail old man. Then, I went to visit him in the hospital and found him dead. The nurses never told me he had passed away. I felt completely numb, and I didn’t give myself a chance to process it. I had all but stopped caring about myself and my wellbeing.
Things kept falling apart. I kept on taking two steps forward, ten steps back, and waking up in a prison cell. After that, I was practically on a suicide mission. I put myself in deliberate danger because I didn’t care. This kept progressing until I turned 24 and hit rock bottom. I got drunk and attacked a man, leaving him in a coma. I thought I killed him, and the shock of ruining my life shook me to my core. I knew I went too far, and got sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Da Costa: How were you able to shift from a convicted felon to a successful entrepreneur?
Taylor: Whilst in prison, I called my friend on the payphone and asked him what people were saying about me. He told me that I was labeled a violent thug on the front page of the paper. That didn’t phase me. What got to me was a picture a friend had posted on Facebook. It was two side-by-side images of me outside the same courtroom spaced 7 years apart. The caption was “Nothing changes”.
That’s when it hit me. Over 7 years, I kept doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result. I was too busy blaming everything and everyone around me for my poor circumstances. The good news is that I was able to reshape my impulsive and addictive personality that screwed me in the past into something that helped me. I got attached to the idea of changing myself. For the first time, I realized that if I wanted a better life, I had to take responsibility and make it happen.
I started getting into a routine. I visited the psychiatric department and took part in their inmate rehabilitation program. At first, I was defiant; I dismissed everything and trusted no one. But when I started listening to their workshops, things started to make sense. I wanted more, so I signed up for further education in the math and English departments. This was a big deal for me. Having left school at 15 with no qualifications, I felt stupid, and never wanted to reveal that I was. But a little old lady from the education department sat down next to me and asked, “What’s the matter?” And no one had ever asked me that before. She offered me the support I needed, and I passed every test.
Da Costa: How did you start your now 7-figure business?
Taylor: I enrolled in a 6-month rehabilitation program after my prison sentence. They broke me down and built me back up, and I walked out with my head clear for the first time in my life. And while I was still in recovery, something incredible happened. Someone came up to me off of the street and asked me for life advice. I realized that I had value to offer, even though I was going through difficult times.
Every breakthrough, every experience, every relapse – all these dark times were gifts that I could share with other people. From that realization, I founded The Coaching Masters. Eight months later, I was making six figures at 26 years old as a mindset coach. When I discovered that I could do this from anywhere, I went to Asia for 3 months and started traveling. People kept asking how this young guy was making good money while traveling the world, and the answer was simple: by helping people.
Over time, I realized that I had even more value to offer. With a unique understanding of business strategy, marketing, and psychology, I progressed to business coaching and training others to become powerful coaches. Because of the lengths I’d been to within my own life, it was easy for me to spot people’s pain. Things started to escalate. My team grew from a handful to a dozen. I grew from six-figures to seven, and started partnering with people who could add value to my business. We’ve since helped thousands of people become coaches with their own freedom-based online business. Now, I’m clean and sober with no addiction or mental health problems. I’m living in Bali with the love of my life, I’m a proud cat dad, and I speak on stages across the world.
Da Costa: What insights would you give to people looking to take their business to the next level?
Taylor: Feeling like a bad person throughout life caused me to do bad things in a cycle of self-sabotage. The way to step out of that is to change your identity and decide how you want to see yourself. When you behave that way, everything else will fall in line. I believe that people go through tough times because they can handle them. I used to think things were happening to me, but they were actually happening for me. Every step was an essential part of the journey towards finding my calling and helping people.
Each of us is chosen to go on our path, and everything in life happens for a reason. So the key to living life the way we want and building an incredible business is to turn each adversity into an asset. Amplify and transmute everything that happens to you into a skill, lesson, or talent. As soon as you start taking responsibility and seeing your experiences as gifts, you can shift your perspective and make a difference in the world. Understand the power of identity, and you’ll turn your pain into power.