Welcome to my regular series entitled "My Light Bulb Moment". This column highlights a "blinding flash of insight" business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their career and how this changed their lives forever.

William Pike

As one of two young climbers caught in the September 2007 volcanic eruption on Mount Ruapehu, William suffered numerous life threatening injuries and as a result, his right leg was amputated below the knee.

By adopting a positive attitude and moving on with the support of his family and friends, William was once again able to embrace his love of the outdoors. Now leading the William Pike Challenge Award, a popular outdoor education programme for Year 7 and 8 students around New Zealand, the Ruapehu eruption gave him the opportunity to share his passion and positive inspirational message with thousands of youth.

Advertisement

Light bulb moment: Don't be afraid to take risks "As a primary school teacher, I remember sitting in my classroom mid-2012. I loved my job, the people I worked with and the children I taught. However, an opportunity was brewing on the side, and I was torn between the two." The William Pike Challenge Award (WPCA) had been quietly establishing itself in a Taupo school - the first pilot of the programme. The year after there were four schools participating, and in 2013 there were 16 schools keen to participate.

"All of a sudden I needed to make a major decision. Stay in my teaching career, or leave the profession to run and lead the WPCA full time. At the end of the day I decided to follow my passion - education and the outdoors."

Living a richer life

"In 2012 I took a risk and followed my passion. Leaving my beloved job as a teacher was scary, but it has enabled me to grow the WPCA, with the goal of being one of New Zealand's most popular outdoor education programmes." This year there are close to 600 students participating in the WPCA from 30 schools, and in 2015 William is predicting 40 schools and close to 900 students taking part.

Taking a risk and following your passion are different notions. Become comfortable with taking calculated risks, as the biggest rewards often come from the biggest risk. As William says, "be courageous, think outside of the square and never underestimate your ideas. Everyday ordinary people are behind some of the world's most successful ideas and companies."

If you have had a blinding moment of insight please email me as I would love to hear about it.

• Tom O'Neil is an award-winning business speaker and best-selling international author. Email Tom at tom@onepercentguy.com