August 20, 2021|Diamond Kind - Podcasts

Diamond Kind: Episode 2 – With Zamil

Diamond Kind is a movement started by Atticus Health. Through this movement, we are dedicated to connecting with people of all walks of life, sharing their moments of personal adversity and learning together from those stories. The movement’s metaphorical title refers to how “pressure makes diamonds” and coming through that pressure with kindness.

Today Dr Floyd Gomes and Brett Thiedeman talk to Zamil. Zamil talks with us about ways he has managed to overcome adversity in his own life.


Dr Floyd Gomes 0:02
We all have pressure in our lives and pressure makes diamonds. And yet, in the heat of a moment, that pressure can lead to various ways that we handle a situation, either aggressively or bringing out some degree of kindness. And that’s what Diamond Kind is about. Welcome again. So we’re back here at our podcast Diamond Kind series. Today we’ve got a guest who is an acquaintance of Brett’s and his name is Zamil. So I’m gonna hand over to Brett to make an introduction and go from there.

Brett Thiedeman 0:41
Thanks, Floyd. And it’s obviously good to be back again after we had a great first episode with with Rory, so that was a really inspiring episode. And as Zamil is the National Sales Director at Virtusa. He’s got a passion for connecting organisations with their customers. He’s also a devoted and loving father, has spent the last 35 years serving and supporting marginalised communities, so I look forward to talking to Zamil about that. And now we will call him in.

Zamil 1:20
Brett, How are you?

Brett Thiedeman 1:21
Zamil, how are you going?

Zamil 1:23
Well, mate, good. How are you doing?

Brett Thiedeman 1:25
Good. Good. Good. I’m going very well. Very good. Very well. Thanks again. And we’ve got Dr. Floyd Gomes with me as well.

Dr Floyd Gomes 1:34
Hey Zamil.

Zamil 1:34
Hi. Hi, how you doing?

Dr Floyd Gomes 1:37
Good. Good. Good. Yeah. Thanks for joining us. So where are you at the moment Zamil in space?

Zamil 1:45
I’m in my bedroom at the moment.

Dr Floyd Gomes 1:48
That sounds like a nice place to be actually. A lot of people would be isn’t it. Pretty much that that’s what’s happening around the country.

Zamil 1:56
Look, I’m in Perth. And…we’re very fortunate not to have the whole lockdown situation, and COVID to be as full on as it is in other states. So we’re very lucky. I’ve had a beautiful morning. I got my citizenship, my Australian citizenship last night and i’m so grateful for being in this country and making that move, so I’ve taken a day off just to celebrate that all actually. And as a part of it this is one of my gifts for giving back.

Dr Floyd Gomes 2:34
Wow, congratulations. That’s awesome.

Zamil 2:37
Thank you.

Dr Floyd Gomes 2:39
There you go and what did you have to do as part of the ceremony? Just remind me what the present state of play is with becoming a citizen.

Zamil 2:50
You have to obviously go through the whole proving why, which took about a year. And then the actual ceremony, you go to the local council offices of your local constituents, and you by the mayor, stand up with 90 people that were there from 52 different countries, and you pledge your allegiance to the Australian way of life. And you get a certificate. I took my son, we took a photo with the mayor in front of the flags under the queen and we celebrated ride sharing food and the food that they put on. And that’s it. You’re in.

Dr Floyd Gomes 3:38
Nice. Nice. So that’s good, so the whole family’s involved with that then?

Zamil 3:44
Yeah, exactly. Me and my son.

Dr Floyd Gomes 3:46
Yeah. Do you want to sort of let us know a little bit about yeah, where you’ve come from, and you know, where you find yourself now?

Zamil 3:57
I’ll start just in the beginning, because this is in terms of kindness, which is what this podcast ultimately is leading towards and how I, you know, continue to practice kindness and why is what was given by my mother and father. So my father’s from Bangladesh, my mother’s English – Irish. I was born in Birmingham, in England, which during the 70s, and 60s and 70s, was a, you know, the heart of the Industrial Revolution, was also the time because of its…where it’s placed in England, it’s the heart of the country. It’s the second largest city. So you have a lot of immigrants. You had Jamaicans, you had Indians, you have Pakistanis, you have Bangladeshis, big Irish contingent as well as the, you know, the British, but very working class. And yeah, as a part of that, my mum and dad, they owned a… they owned a cafe, an Irish cafe. And in this Irish cafe, the reasons why they bought it was because of all of the Irish and the people looking for work. It was the old days when the trucks used to rock up and used to get literally picked from a group of people on the back of the truck, and away you went. And so the cafe was right there. And so they used to get a cup of tea in there. And so mom and dad bought that. And that was really, Mom and Dad getting together was around, you know, English and Bangladesh and, you know, coming together, and that way, there was a lot of racism back then. But my mom and dad were both leaders in the community. So this cafe turned into a bit of a community hub for everybody and this particular area that I was brought up in was Bohemian. And so it was all about people helping each other. And my mom and dad were the catalyst towards paying it forward. So if there was somebody that needed something doing, we’d always know somebody within the community that could do that. So it’s very, very self sustaining. We had people staying with us, we fed people. And yeah, they were very fair, very strict. And my dad had a saying that, you know, if you’ve got a problem, I’ve got a problem, if you’ve got no problem, I’ve got no problem. And it was a beautiful place to be brought up in so yeah. I’ve spent the most part of my life in the UK and, and then I came over to Australia about 21 years ago. And I.T is always predominately in my, my area of work. And I’ve worked in that, and I love what I do. And I love what I do, because in technology, technology helps so many people and helping people because of the foundations that my mother and father set and community and bringing those people together and networking and working out who can do what, where and how we can bring that as a collaboration forward with a quality and right you know, lifting people up. It’s just a natural thing that I did. So technology is what I moved into, and came over to Australia because of wanting a better way of life. I was sick of the whole, we’re just fed up for the whole dark nights, television culture. Yeah, that’s what it was like for me in England. And so me and my now ex-wife decided that we’d come and we’d land in Melbourne. So we came to Melbourne on a working holiday visa, and pretty much within the sort of first three months got picked up by some, some IT companies, large IT companies, and that began our path and the way forward. And so I just spent, I spent sort of 19-20 years in Melbourne, and that community, and again, just forged a relationship with my community, my peers at work, other organisations and continued that same approach of bringing people together. So that’s that part of it. The other part of it was…I had some health challenges. So I had a son, my son, six years ago. And, you know, I was working for an organisation a fantastic organisation called Datacom and we just landed the largest technology, digital transformation deal. And yeah, about a year after my son being born, I got cancer. And during that time, it was it was really challenging because I wanted to control everything. I always wanted to manage stuff. And here I am being in a situation where I couldn’t do any of that. So I had to quickly come to a point of surrender, and acceptance, and get through it and got through it I did the first time around. So from getting through it, that first time I just…after chemotherapy and… it was really challenging. It changed who I was as a person. And so coming back into the workforce, I came into remission. And coming back into the workforce, I was just riddled with anxiety. And so I was doing a little bit of work on it, but not too much work on it. And I just thought I could just continue to push on through because a large part of me was to provide for my family at that time, I was still young. And about a year later I got re-diagnosed with cancer, this time worse. It was non Hodgkins lymphoma and it spread to a couple of other areas and I…they had to take a more aggressive approach towards treatment. So this time around, I really brought my community and my friends together to help me support me during that, that next part of that journey. And so I had a stem cell transplant, intensive chemo, isolated for a month at a time in hospitals. And yeah, went to some really dark places but managed to somehow get through but during the process of all of that, I was having some neurological episodes and when they check that, as well as the lymphoma, they found that I had a low grade glioma, which is a small brain tumour, and they didn’t know what to do with it. So that really shook me up, even in the process of what chemotherapy does to you, which is strip you of everything. And it’s undiscriminative in terms of what it does, and what it sort of kills. And so, you know, that was really hard on my, on my on my partner, and, you know, pardon everybody, really. So anyway, I got through it, I got a stem cell transplant. And then at the end of treatment, my partner, she decided that she couldn’t take it anymore. The last sort of two years of, of what we’ve been through was just too much for her. So she decided to leave, and she decided to take my son, and relocate to Perth, which is where her family was. And it was at that moment, I thought to myself, well, I might as well end my life, because I literally just had focused everything on getting through for my family. And now my family wasn’t there, what am I going to do? So at that moment, I decided, you know, let’s, let’s end my life. And then I thought about it. And I thought that if my son ever gets into a difficult moment in his life, and he thinks, “well, my dad, checked out, I can do that.” So I took it off the table. It was no longer an option. And from that moment forward to this day, and every single day, I plant myself into self help, no matter what it was. Psychiatric help, counselling, cancer counselling, you name it, I did it. And as a consequence of that, I’m here today. And I fast forward with, there’s a lot of stuff that has gone gone by but I’m the best version of myself. And a large part of that that journey was building a faith in a higher power, was working through all the challenges and the resentments I might have had and laying them to rest, and truly being grateful for every moment in every day. And helping others and, changing my way of thinking, my way of being, so one of love, compassion, kindness. It is a way of being that I that I live by. And so from one aspect, which was potentially the worst day of my life, which was saying goodbye to my son in a park was actually the catalyst to make me the best version that I am today. So in that, I’m always guided by my practice on a daily basis and my daily basis, my daily practice is, you know, morning meditation and prayer and handing over to something that’s greater than myself, which is God, you know, and that might be nature, it might be the ocean. And so therefore, I’m not running the show and it’s always been focused of how can I be of service to others? And being of service to others gives me a great, you know, motivation in life. So first of all, it was I needed to get with my son and I needed to be with my son. So I got back on the horse in terms of my career, I now work for an organisation called Virtusa, and they are a huge, global organisation that provides technology services, and I look after the healthcare, life sciences and insurance, which is just so close to my heart with what I’ve been through. And they gave me the opportunity to go out there and provide technology to those types of organisations to help people like you and me. So I did that. And during COVID whilst I was in Melbourne, the best thing happened. And it might have been bad for a lot of people and it is bad for a lot of people. But for me what it gave me the opportunity was to be able to relocate to Perth, and relocating Perth and being with my son was the… that’s my North Star. So I managed to do that and get over to Perth about a year ago. And so now really, that really completed me as a human and as a man. And as a consequence of that, as a consequence of my practice, bringing it all back to what I do on a daily basis is i’ve been just gifted with so much love and kindness and compassion off others and my higher power and I pay that forward. I pay that forward in every moment and every second that I possibly can, I can. And I have a wonderful relationship with my son, we have a great co-parenting relationship with his mother. And, you know, life is amazing. So that’s where I am today.

Brett Thiedeman 15:18
Yeah, thanks so much Zamil for, for sharing that. I mean, you know, for myself, you know, I already know a lot of that story. But I guess you’re the perfect example, Zamil, really, of why we’re doing this show. And, yeah, I think both Floyd and myself, we’re just sitting here and we know, we just listened to your talk. And just, um, it’s just really inspiring and, you know, like, how you have got through, you know, so much adversity in your life, and, you know, withstand those pressures and come through, you know, with kindness.

Dr Floyd Gomes 15:53
Yeah, look, thank you for sharing your story Zamil. I was listening, when you were talking about your, your childhood and the environment that that was there as a child. How important do you think that was for you, as an adult, as you sort of went through this journey?

Zamil 16:16
It’s intrinsic to, I think, survival. You know, how people survived and people did what they needed to do to survive was a was a big, big, yeah, a big part of it. You know, nobody’s really ever asked me that question. But in terms of a context to why I do what I do today, there’s no doubt that the job that I do, and how I am as a human being within my community, comes directly back to the lessons that my mum and dad taught me, with how you bring together a community and a community, you don’t discriminate between black, white, yellow, green, disabled, non disabled, gender, whatever. You’re all equal, and everybody can be a part of that community. So inclusivity was a huge part of it, because I always felt…I never felt separate from my community. And that’s, that’s big, because there were some incredibly lonely times in, in that latter part of my journey that I talked about.

Dr Floyd Gomes 17:17
You’ve come through this in a resilient way and you described getting a lot of self help and having that hunger, and you sort of talked about as a man in particular, you know, that, that you feel complete at this point in your life, but reflecting on that, yeah, how did you get to that point of getting that self help?

Zamil 17:41
It was really quite simple. It was a gift of desperation. I’m not one of these people that go out there because I controlled for so long. I had a, you know, there were other parts of my, my childhood growing up. And this is obviously an abbreviated session about, you know, kindness. But there was there were some challenges I had, you know, Mom and Dad getting divorced, was one of them, some abuse stuff that happened during that childhood. So really, what I did in my life is I controlled everything. And when I had to come to a point of letting go of control, that’s when other stuff started to come up. And it was when I was actually desperate, on my knees, and nowhere else to go, and I wasn’t going end my life, I opened myself up to something else helping me. So when other people you know, it’s different, you know, that they know what they want to do, and they want to get there. For me, I had to reach a point of, there was nowhere else to go to and that was the gift of desperation for me. And from that gift of desperation, and a clear line of sight, to be the best version of myself for my son, was the catalyst to then go into all of this work. And it’s kind of been there intrinsically, for a long time. I’ve always been open to help or support, whatever aspect that might be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I’ve never actually gone into with the level of commitment that I did, until that moment.

Dr Floyd Gomes 19:20
I could only I could only think from from hearing your story, you know, to get back on your feet all of those times, takes a lot of resource doesn’t it.

Zamil 19:34
You know, I because I live in the moment, living the day, you know, it was just that moment. I just had to move through the moments. You know, and when I look back at it, my higher power, which I call God really was there for me. And somehow that inner resource was just there you know, it’s just there. And do I look back at it now and say, Oh, that was really hard, or that was really this? Well, no, I don’t. I definitely don’t want to go back there. But no, I don’t. I see that as an opportunity for growth. It gave me an opportunity to be here today. And I suppose that’s my message.

Dr Floyd Gomes 20:23
You know, you’ve talked about God in that sense of that higher power. Growing up, were you a religious person?

Zamil 20:31
My mother was Christian, my dad was Muslim, and they both practiced, and they never said you had to be this or had to be that. So I went to church, and I went to mosque when on special occasions. And in the community, we had Sikhs, we had Hindus, we had Buddhists, we had a real broad cross section. And so I’ve been exposed to it all my life. But I didn’t know how to practice it. I didn’t know how to practice spirituality, I didn’t know how to practice a process of connecting to a higher power until the last five years really.

Dr Floyd Gomes 21:15
Yeah, definitely. And Zamil, when you describe God, I remember you talking about nature in some of those descriptions.

Zamil 21:25
The first part of recovery from cancer, there, I was seeing a psychiatrist, amazing psychiatrist, and that was assigned by the hospital because of the neurological stuff that was happening. And in it, we started to use metaphors. And a metaphor that was really quite strong for me with a tree and the tree represented…you know, when you can burn a tree, and it grows? And so you’ve got one part of the tree, which is burnt, and you’ve got this beautiful part of the tree, which is growing? That’s what I thought would happen to me and in that became a connection to nature. And in that connection to nature, and connection to my environment, and something that was greater than me, was the connection and the pathway to what, what God is for me. You know, is that we’re all connected. It’s not just down to me. I am connected to everything and everybody, including nature. And therefore I don’t have to try to do this by myself. I can rely on a source that’s greater than myself, so spending time in nature gives me that connection. For when I connect in, I feel connected to everybody, and it’s often when you feel disconnected, it’s often when you feel alone, that, you know, you separate. You separate from something that’s greater than me, you know, which gives you an understanding of this podcast and what you’re trying to put out there, which is about kindness. You know, I’m not thinking about others when I’m in that state. And sort of then that that state of self, you know, isolation and self obsession, becomes you, becomes your body. So when I look around me and just remind myself of nature, in those aspects that I’ve talked to you about, it, it presents an opportunity for me to go “okay, I am connected to all this.” Animals, for instance: A dog that we had, you know, the kindness and love that this and unconditional love that this dog used to show me is just extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary. So I take inspiration from a number of aspects of, of nature. Sorry, I interrupted you.

Dr Floyd Gomes 23:45
No, i’m just thinking a lot of people would would resonate with that isn’t it. There are a few dog lovers out there.

Zamil 23:53
Well, you think of what dog spelt backwards is.

Dr Floyd Gomes 23:56
Oh, wow. Yes, yes, there you go. Yeah, yeah. And Zamil, I’m just thinking then, and, look, I mean, you’ve you’ve gone through a lot in your life, people presently, in their own ways, and perhaps not right now in Perth, but in general through COVID, having their own challenges in terms of their lives having to change, what would be there to really help them at this time?

Zamil 24:33
Can only talk by experience, and that’s the only thing I can offer, in terms of hope for others is my experience. And in that experience, I started to do something on a daily basis. And so a good daily practice of for me, I’ll just tell you what it was for me. It was prayer and meditation. It was a routine that was non negotiable before my feet, hit the ground, prayer and meditation was, is the thing that started it all, and then exercise. So going for a walk in the morning because you’re only allowed an hour because I went through this in Melbourne, I went through the first long lockdown. And that’s actually what gave me a really good platform to sort of level up in terms of my wellbeing. And so that was a walk in the morning before sunset, and that walk in the morning, seeing the sun come up and going no matter what the weather, really energised me, absolutely energised me for my day, got me sorted, and then having the right nutrition. So I saw a nutritionist that would help in my particular recovery around, recovery from cancer, or what my body needed. And so I had my fixed meals for the day and the nutrition that needed…needed to get me going. And then I put it in place a little bit of an exercise plan. Say, I wanted to achieve 10 push ups today 10, press ups, 10 sit ups today, squats. And I’d say I’d have a list on my desk, which I ticked off through that day. And then I had somebody I needed to call. So I needed to call some people that were not doing so well. And I wouldn’t tell them about what was going on to me, I would actually call them to ask them about them. And see if they were okay. The flip side of that I’d also reach out to somebody and let them know what was going on for me. That was huge. And the repetition of that meant they were up to date with me, I was up to date with them and it began with me starting that process. And then in the middle of the day, I would have a walk. Just a short walk. Just a connection to nature that would get me out of that home. And this was trying to do the the hour per day that that was…that was prescribed by the government in terms of this lockdown approach. And then at nighttime, to switch off my day, I would have a walk at sunset and…that just completed my day. Just seeing the sun go down, rising with the sun, setting with the sun, having an early dinner and getting a good night’s sleep. I think sleep is so underrated. So that getting that sleep at a certain time because I rose so early, you’re tired anyway, so your body naturally, you know, eight, nine o’clock at night, I’m ready for bed. And sort of that set me up for good serotonin levels, good chemicals being induced into me. I then discovered a hobby. I discovered a hobby that I had no idea I had a talent about which was photography. So i was taking a sunset and sunrise photograph. And I started sharing them with my community or the community Facebook page that I started sharing with and people that couldn’t get out of the house were saying, “Ah, that’s beautiful.” And that was a daily and sort of…I use technology and Facebook in this particular instance, to connect with my community. So even though we’re isolated, we can still do stuff in our community. And that goes back to you know how I was raised again, you know, and and that community aspect. So that’s that act of kindness, you know, is knowing that we just don’t have to do this alone. And that’s what I did. I don’t know if that helps people, but that’s what what I did.

Brett Thiedeman 28:34
That’s awesome Zamil. Thanks for sharing that. I think. I think Floyd, I think there seems to be a common theme from the from the first episode as well and that’s meditation. I think it’s time you had a go.

Dr Floyd Gomes 28:48
I get restless when I try to meditate, but nah look, I think, yeah, there’s definitely something there. It’s Zamil, look, thank you so much for joining us today.

Zamil 29:01
Thank you for the opportunity.

Brett Thiedeman 29:02
Yeah, nah definitely, thanks again Zamil and yeah, especially these times in Melbourne, you know, listening to these stories and some tools and listening to other people about how they, I guess moving forward through it is going to help a lot of people and, you know, obviously a lot of the stuff that you said, you know, resonated with me Zamil and, you know, from, you know, the meditation to the exercise. And we’ve recently started a running club, which is, which is really exciting, which have just started yesterday actually. And that’s just yeah, to help people to, to go out and to move and to exercise and get into nature and, and to connect with people as well, so we’re really, you know, trying to do our part, I guess to to connect people together in these times as well. And yeah, just give people something to look forward to in a day and and hopefully, you know what you’ve said as well will help to give people a little bit more structure in their day as well. So, yeah, I really appreciate your time again.

Zamil 30:15
No problem. Thank you guys. We’ll speak to you soon. Thanks.

Dr Floyd Gomes 30:19
Alright bye Zamil. Well, they go they go, what a story. Yeah. There are like you rightly pointed out, Brett, some common threads there, reflecting on on last week with Rory, that idea of going for a walk i’ve been sort of mentioning to patients along the way. Since talking to Rory and maybe before but certainly these simple things can be helpful, isn’t it?

Brett Thiedeman 30:47
See Zamil was able to have some perspective about about where he was to help him to keep moving forward in those, I guess, dark times that he was going through.

Dr Floyd Gomes 30:59
And he’s come through that, and you can hear that strength in his voice presently.

Brett Thiedeman 31:04
Absolutely. So that’s it. So that’s the second second podcast.

Dr Floyd Gomes 31:09
Yeah, Brett. We’ll be back doing another one, I’m sure. And yeah, look, maybe just think about that for everyone. There’ll be a lot of pressure happening out there, for sure, and just try to tread gently as you go during those moments and come through being Diamond Kind.

Brett Thiedeman 31:32
If you go to www.atticushealth.com.au and you can sign up to the newsletter and you’ll be able to access next editions of the Diamond Kind podcast as well.

Dr Floyd Gomes 31:45
I gotta do that Brett. That sounds pretty good. I gotta clock off here and have a go. So yeah. Thanks for joining us and we will talk to you soon.

Brett Thiedeman 31:55
Thanks, everyone. Talk to you soon.

Dr Floyd Gomes 31:57
Bye for now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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