Interview: From Africa’s Superman to Viking – Cobus Visser’s Journey of Resilience

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Ladies and gentlemen, today is a day of inspiration and empowerment. I have the immense privilege of introducing you to a man who has conquered not only the towering heights of Mount Kilimanjaro but also the seemingly insurmountable challenges that life has thrown at him. Born with a rare genetic blood disorder, haemophilia, Cobus Visser has spent his entire life battling pain and adversity. But instead of letting these obstacles break him, he has transformed them into powerful lessons for us all.

(Click here to learn more about haemophilia)

As an unstoppable force, Cobus has redefined the limits of human potential. He has climbed the highest mountain in Africa on crutches, and as a Master Firewalking Instructor, he has walked on fire and broken glass, proving that nothing is impossible. He has turned his life into a living testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the human spirit.

But Cobus is not just a man of incredible feats; he is also a man of wisdom, empathy, and unwavering resolve. Armed with an extensive education, including a BBA in Marketing Management and nearly an MBA in Marketing, Cobus is a Certified Master NLP Life Coach and Trainer, Executive Business Coach, and ShadowMatch and Enneagram facilitator. He dedicates his life to helping others unlock their true potential, guiding individuals, business leaders, and people with disabilities to reach for the stars and fulfil their dreams.

Join me today as we explore the remarkable life and journey of Cobus Visser – the man who turned a rare condition into a life of triumph. As we delve into his story, we’ll learn about his ongoing struggle with haemophilia, his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, and his incredible transformation from “Africa’s Superman” to “Cobus the Viking.” Through our conversation, we’ll uncover the secrets to his unwavering determination, his commitment to living without regret, and his drive to do whatever it takes to achieve greatness. Together, let’s embark on a journey of discovery, inspiration, and empowerment with the indomitable Cobus Visser.

Interview:

Cobus, your journey living with haemophilia is truly inspiring. Can you tell us how you first discovered you had this condition and how it has affected your life since then?

“We were aware that my mom was a carrier of haemophilia in our family, as some of her sisters also had children with the condition. The way it works is that the mother is the carrier and the son displays the symptoms, living with the effects of the defective gene. Soon after my birth, I was tested and confirmed to have haemophilia.

This condition is sometimes called the royal disease because it affected Queen Victoria’s family and the Spanish royalty. Growing up with haemophilia greatly impacted my life. I often had to be wrapped in cotton wool just to receive my clotting factor injections. In the early years, the treatment was administered via a drip that took almost an hour to complete, which helped my blood clot. Over time, the repeated bleeding episodes caused my joints to deteriorate, leaving them far from normal.

At school, I faced bullying due to my inability to participate in sports and certain activities. This fear of getting hurt made me increasingly introverted, risk-averse, and unwilling to take chances. Haemophilia has affected every aspect of my life.

Living with daily pain makes even simple tasks challenging, and finding the motivation to do them can be difficult. I always need to carry my medication and pain relief with me, and I must be cautious with the activities I engage in. As a result, I’m constantly questioning whether or not I can do certain things.”

It must have been incredibly challenging to manage haemophilia while pursuing your dreams. What were some key turning points or strategies that helped you overcome these challenges?

“Pursuing my dreams while living with haemophilia has been quite challenging. I have had to carefully consider the impact of my actions on my body and joints. One time, I went on a high-speed boat trip and ended up with severely affected elbows and ankles, which prevented me from walking for a long time. Making certain choices has definitely impacted my life.

Despite these challenges, I have accomplished things like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro by motivating myself and maintaining a positive mindset. Self-talk is crucial, as the way we talk to ourselves influences our ability to persevere. Additionally, I have found it helpful to establish good habits, such as morning meditation, journaling, and walking outdoors. Journaling has a three-step process: writing down bothersome thoughts, listing things I am grateful for, and outlining my vision and goals. Spending time in nature helps keep my mind focused and clear.

Surrounding myself with supportive and empowering people has also been vital to my success. Strategies like walking on fire and broken glass have built my belief in my abilities, showing me that if I can accomplish these feats, I can do anything. As the quote by Gandhi suggests, our beliefs, thoughts, and words shape our actions, habits, values, and ultimately, our destiny. To create the life we desire, we must challenge our beliefs and thoughts, knowing that our actions will follow.

It is essential to speak life and positivity, as the power of life and death lies in the tongue. By nurturing a positive mindset and surrounding ourselves with the right people and habits, we can overcome challenges and achieve our dreams. You know, there is a book that says Life and death isn’t a part of the tongue, and those who love to use it will be the fruit of it. So speak life.”

As a motivational speaker and peak performance coach, you’ve transformed your personal experiences into powerful lessons for others. What motivated you to take this path and help others reach their full potential?

“My journey began when my first son was born, and I couldn’t pick him up and hold him. I didn’t realize the impact of this until he was four years old and drew a picture with two babies, explaining that he wanted a little brother to play with since I couldn’t. When he told me I was dead to him, it pushed me to search for something more in life and led me to where I am today.

I experienced firewalking for the first time and realized there was more to life than what we know. Studying with mentors like Tony Robbins and T. Harv Eker, I learned about firewalking, walking on broken glass, and the power of unconditional love. One significant lesson was the “hug,” where you make eye contact, connect heart to heart, and breathe together. This simple act releases serotonin after 20 seconds.

After incorporating this practice with my son, he eventually told me I was “alive” to him again, always asking for his hug. I realized the importance of motivation and having a vision to guide our lives. My vision of climbing a mountain with my sons became my reason to persevere.

Facing near-death on Mount Kilimanjaro, I was reborn and realized I needed a new vision and purpose. Constantly working towards a vision helps us navigate life’s challenges and the pain that comes with worthwhile pursuits. What keeps me going every day is people, unconditional love, and paying it forward.

The story of the starfish illustrates this – a little girl saves starfish one by one, despite an old man telling her she can’t make a difference. Each starfish she saves represents the difference she makes in that one life. This story is a reminder to focus on changing lives one person at a time, bringing hope and purpose to those around us.”

Speaking of reaching one’s full potential, your achievement of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is remarkable. Can you walk us through your decision to undertake this challenge and how you prepared for it, considering your haemophilia?

“In 2014, I woke up one morning unable to walk, with both my ankles in severe pain. Normally, an injection would help, and I would be walking again in two or three days, but this time was different. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. The pain became unbearable, so I went to the doctor. They took X-rays of my ankles and elbows, and the doctor told me I was in for a two-year journey, which would involve replacing both my elbows and fusing my ankles.

I was terrified and didn’t want to be bedridden. Crawling was the only way I could move around. I struggled with the thought of undergoing these operations, and I remembered studying the power of the mind and the concept of walking on fire. I decided to try applying these principles first, and if they didn’t work, then I would go for the operations.

I applied everything I learned, including meditation and visualization techniques. I saw two South Africans, one in a wheelchair and one on crutches, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and I thought, “If they can do it, so can I.” The more people I shared my dream with, the more real it became. Many thought I was crazy, and even the doctors were hesitant to approve my plans.

Despite the challenges, I was determined to climb the mountain. I surrounded myself with supportive people who helped me prepare. As the climb approached, I worried about my ability to complete it, but I pushed through. Climbing Kilimanjaro was the biggest decision of my life and it changed everything.

During that time, I went through a divorce, lost my kids, and felt like I had lost everything. Climbing Kilimanjaro was my way of seeking help from a higher power. There were moments on the mountain when I felt like giving up, but a friend reminded me of my purpose, and I pushed through to the summit.

In the end, I learned that when we think we can’t do something, we can’t. But when we believe we can, we can. That experience transformed me, and I came back with the philosophies of doing whatever it takes and living without regret.”

During your climb, were there any moments when you felt like giving up? How did you push through those moments, and what did you learn about yourself in the process?

“Every day while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I experienced moments of wanting to give up. On the first day, I reached camp in immense pain, and I had to crawl to my tent. I felt stressed and unsure about how I would continue. That night, I cried, knowing I had to wake up early every morning to warm up and give myself injections.

On the second day, I wanted to turn back, but the guide told me it would take eight to ten hours to do so. Instead, he suggested a shorter, four-hour climb to the next camp. I chose to continue, taking one step at a time and focusing only on my next step. This approach helped me persevere through each day, even though I wanted to give up at times.

Reaching each camp and taking in the view made the pain and struggle worthwhile. When I was on the brink of giving up, a friend reminded me of my purpose for climbing the mountain, and I pushed through. However, on the way down, my body gave in, and I couldn’t move. I felt hopeless and asked for help.

To my surprise, 45 porters came to my aid, carrying me down to base camp. From there, they transported me in a makeshift wheelbarrow to get more oxygen. This experience taught me several lessons: I am stronger than I think, the power of the mind is incredible, and people around us are often willing to help when we need it.

The key is to ask for help and make the journey easier. As humans, we need to realize that we need to look around and ask for help when we need it because it makes the journey so much easier. Some of the lessons I learned were to live without regret, do whatever it takes, and not to make excuses or place blame. These are the lessons I carry with me after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Many people living with chronic conditions like haemophilia might feel limited in what they can achieve. What is your advice to them on overcoming these limitations and pursuing their dreams?

I agree. When I think about my cousin in Australia that is in a wheelchair and may not be able to climb a mountain, our minds are still powerful, and we can still have amazing lives. It’s about developing skills, discovering ourselves, and empowering ourselves to focus on what is possible.

I may not climb another mountain, but I have seen people in wheelchairs do it. The main thing is to embark on a self-discovery journey. For those with chronic conditions, it’s important to realize that the condition does not define you. Ask yourself what you are capable of and how you can apply yourself to achieve your goals.

It’s not always about climbing literal mountains; we also face metaphorical mountains in life. The key is to keep moving forward, believe in ourselves, and live a life of purpose, pursuing our dreams. First, we need to discover ourselves. Second, we must love ourselves. Third, we should dream and define our purpose. And fourth, we must develop the necessary skills.

It’s important to be realistic about our goals, but we can still dream big. If the original dream isn’t achievable, we can adapt and find a different way to achieve it. For example, my friend wanted to be a professional basketball player but wasn’t tall enough. Instead, he became a mental coach for a basketball team, ultimately living out his dream in a different way.

We should be adaptable and flexible to adjust our goals when needed. Sometimes, we may not reach the exact destination we had in mind, but it’s essential to remember that it’s about the journey, not just the destination.”

Let’s talk about your work as a peak performance coach. How do you incorporate your experiences with haemophilia into your coaching methods, and how have you seen it impact the lives of your clients?

“I believe the key to success is adopting a mindset of doing whatever it takes, regardless of your excuses or circumstances. Everyone is born differently, but if I can do it, so can you, and perhaps even more.

The first step is tackling your limiting beliefs and creating a high-performance mindset. Second, live without regret. Third, realize that you can create magic in your life. When I work with clients, I emphasize the importance of the process and the journey.

Consider the farmer as an example. Even when there is no rain in sight, the farmer must have faith and plant seeds as if the rain is coming. First, choose the seed you will plant. Next, prepare the land with proper fertilization. Then, plant the seed and care for it by watering and fertilizing it. Have faith that the rain will come, and eventually, you will harvest.

The magic comes from consistency, creating the right habits, and taking daily actions. To achieve your desired results, you need a proper nutrition plan, an exercise regimen, and a coach who will push you beyond your limits. Following this process, you will become the best version of yourself.

The same applies to climbing Kilimanjaro or any other goal – it’s about taking one step at a time with the right team, nutrients, and equipment. In my coaching sessions, I focus on where my clients are now and where they want to be. I help them develop the necessary skills and habits and create an action plan. I also hold them accountable for applying these steps every day to achieve their desired results.

By following this process, results can be guaranteed. So, get ready for your high-performance mindset and embrace the mentality of doing whatever it takes.”

You recently rebranded from “Africa’s Superman” to “Cobus the Viking.” Can you share the reasons behind this change and how it reflects your personal and professional growth?

“I recently transitioned from the persona of Africa’s Superman to that of a Viking, a journey that began in 2012 when I first branded myself as Superman. Growing up, I often missed school due to haemophilia, and my dad would rent Superman movies for me to watch. I connected with the character of Clark Kent, who was often unnoticed and bullied but discovered his superpowers as Superman.

As I embraced the Superman persona, I celebrated birthdays with that theme and embodied the character in every way. However, after receiving my first negative feedback at an event just before my 40th birthday, I began to reflect on my life and realized I needed to make some changes. I found new coaches who helped me clear out my past and create more clarity in my life.

During this period of self-discovery, I realized that dressing up as Superman no longer suited me. Through DNA ancestry testing, I discovered some of my heritage was linked to the Viking world, and I connected with the nine values and principles of the Vikings: heart, honour, discipline, action, fidelity, and others.

I also noticed a need for men’s empowerment, as many of my clients felt alone with no one to talk to. While there is a focus on women’s empowerment, there seemed to be less attention given to the needs of men. The Viking philosophy resonated with me because it recognized women as equals who could rule and go to war.

The Vikings’ values of courage, love, freedom, and fearlessness connected with my passion for firewalking and other activities that required bravery. As I transitioned to my new persona on November 1st last year, many things in my life came to an end, including the passing of my dog, the clearing of old possessions, and the selling of my cars. This allowed me to step into a new phase and build for the next decade, embracing the nine principles and values of a Viking.”

Your unique empowerment program, “Viking Wolfpack,” focuses on helping men become warriors. Can you tell us more about the program and the key elements that contribute to its success?

“Viking Wolf Pack is an organization with the tagline “Where great men become warriors.” It focuses on the fearless transformation of men into warriors by embracing certain principles and values, such as perseverance, honour, discipline, consistent action, truthfulness, loyalty, courage, and fearlessness. The goal is to create an environment for men to belong to, empower themselves, step up, raise their standards, and make a difference in the world while building a legacy together.

As a group, the members support each other through difficult times. In fact, some men who considered suicide found hope and help within this community. Viking Wolf Pack is more than just a club for men; it’s a gathering of warriors who aim to make a difference, defend those in need, and become leaders in their communities.

Though not for everyone, many men connect with the Viking Wolf Pack philosophy. The group has attracted nearly 200 men to participate in shared experiences, such as hunting, ice bathing, attending race car events, engaging in fight club experiences, hiking, and fishing. These activities foster camaraderie and help members work through challenges together.

The Viking Wolf Pack is inspired by the quests of Vikings who ventured out to gather new experiences and bring back treasures. In a similar way, members of the group embark on journeys to let go of what no longer serves them and gather what they need to become better men.

The success of Viking Wolf Pack can be attributed to the authenticity, truthfulness, and heartfelt connections that men share within the organization. By being open and genuine, they inspire others to connect and share their own experiences.”

As a certified Master Firewalking instructor, you’ve added another dimension to your work. How does firewalking relate to overcoming challenges and achieving peak performance, and how have you seen it impact participants in your workshops?

“Firewalking is an activity that can teach important lessons about peak performance and mindset. It demonstrates that fear is often a mental construct, and the first step is often the hardest. Walking on fire, which can reach temperatures between 500 and 600 degrees Celsius, instils the belief that if you can do this, you can do anything.

The experience teaches participants how to impact their surroundings and the people in their lives through their words and actions. Firewalking has helped many people reignite their self-belief, self-worth, and motivation by burning away old baggage and walking into a new future where anything is possible.

In addition to firewalking, related lessons like focusing energy and maintaining a positive mindset contribute to the overall impact of the experience. For sales teams, firewalking can serve as an anchor for overcoming challenges and building resilience.

Participants in firewalking events have reported personal and professional growth, including doubling their business, finding love, and experiencing forgiveness. Many keep coming back for more, and the experience has had a profound impact on people of all ages, including children who learn to believe in themselves and their abilities.

I’m also so proud of both my sons, the one that’s two years old, has walked over the fire and is loving fire so much that, I have to be careful what I do with him because he believes he can do anything. He just recently jumped from a swing believing he is Superman. However, he realized quickly when he bought some land on the ground that he is not Superman yet.

My dad has this philosophy that he said to me. He said Cobus, life is about gathering firewood. And I asked him why. He said, when you are old one day, you’ve gathered enough firewood to put on the fire to keep your soul warm. Then I asked him, but what is that? And he said, that’s all of the memories you’ve made for your life.”

Balancing personal health and a demanding career can be a challenge for anyone, especially someone living with a chronic condition. What strategies do you use to maintain your well-being while pursuing your passions?

“I used to say I would sleep when I’m dead, but I’ve come to realize that taking care of one’s health is crucial. This involves proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, and daily physical activity. Personally, I aim for 10,000 steps a day, whenever possible.

Another important aspect is journaling. It helps you let go of things that don’t serve you and express gratitude for the positive aspects of life. Meditation is also essential for maintaining well-being.

Looking after yourself involves continuous learning and growth, whether through reading or listening to books. Additionally, taking care of your body with massages and regular doctor checkups is vital. It’s important to adopt a holistic approach to self-care, balancing hard work with rest and relaxation.

Being present is key, especially when you’re surrounded by the right people. Cherish the time you have with them, as each moment is unique and irreplaceable. While it’s essential to take care of yourself, don’t forget to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true and live without regret.”

Finally, looking ahead, what are your goals for the future, both in your personal life and your career? How do you plan to continue inspiring and motivating others to reach their full potential?

“In my personal life, my primary goal is to reach my fullest potential. I plan to write and launch my book by the beginning of next year. Additionally, I recently received a pen that belonged to my great-grandfather, who was a president in 1961. One day, I hope to use this pen while speaking at the United Nations to inspire government leaders about the future, hope, mindset, and changing the way we do things while promoting unconditional love.

In the meantime, I have several challenges lined up for myself. These include driving through Africa from north to south, starting from Germany, climbing Machu Picchu, and walking the Camino de Santiago. My aim is to take others on these journeys with me and inspire them to join my community, where we challenge and hold each other accountable to reach our fullest potential.

As I embark on this new journey, it’s time to inspire and empower people to live their fullest potential. Now, one way of doing it is for me to live through mindfulness potential and to share it with the world.”

Follow Cobus Visser on all of his social media by clicking the following link: https://solo.to/cobusvisser

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Shaun Zietsman https://www.thesomethingguy.co.za

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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