A SPIRITED INDIVIDUAL
John’s vision is for a loving and understanding society that exists beyond the limited concepts of tolerance and acceptance and, as a natural consequence, truly embraces all.
From the start, there is evidence of John Wood’s business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit: from collecting flowers and selling them at the age of five, to running a comic-book exchange at 11, to being an office boy and then a clerk for an insurance company. By 19 years of age, John had created the best delicatessen in the Perth Metropolitan Area.
The birth of Fleetwood began when John offered his services to help a caravan hire and sales firm make some sales, which they hadn’t managed in four months. Within five months, John had sold 44 caravans. But the writing was on the wall: this company was going nowhere, and (so he learnt) had only intended to employ him for the seasonal shows. Needless to say, they kept him on.
At age 22, with five months’ experience in the industry and £1000 saved, plus another £1000 lent by his father, John bought their first caravan for £100. John and his dad renovated it in the driveway of their family home, selling it for £225 (at an hourly labour rate that amounted to two and sixpence each – very little, even in 1964). But Fleetwood Caravans was born, becoming Fleetwood Group of Companies, and then Fleetwood Corporation Ltd.
As CEO of Fleetwood, one thing was for certain: John had joined the ranks of organisation builders and entrepreneurs for which Western Australia was to become both famous and infamous – creative risk-takers who were to set themselves apart from their contemporaries and provide thousands with employment. Today, 54 years on, Fleetwood typifies longevity and stability in a volatile marketplace – remaining one of the largest and most successful groups of its type in Australia.
John’s many-faceted interest in Fleetwood continued for 26 years – a search for excellence, which marked virtually everything he touched. He drove the development of legislation to raise and set new standards for the Caravan and Camping industry and, critically, for the common good. Working in conjunction with the various arms of government and the industry over a ten-year period, he was both a pioneer and primary architect of a new design concept in Western Australia: Park Homes and the Lifestyle Villages that would accommodate them.
In 1972, he founded the Sir David Brand Awards for Excellence in Tourism (later becoming Australia’s National Tourism Awards).
John did what worked and what mattered, with considerable success. He had ‘arrived’, by hard work, flair and determination, at a place where most of us would assume ‘life was good’. For most people, that would have been the point, the goal – the end game. But like many leaders, John was driven, a visionary busy with a perpetual series of new ideas, decisions and actions. However, there was a spiritual ‘emptiness’ – an untapped, unrealised, but very real, inner world that eluded him.
In 1987, he chanced on a ground-breaking approach. It coalesced all that he had explored before, illuminating the reasons why so many people felt dispirited and unhappy. Why personal relationships failed to fulfil us. Why business and career success, regardless of how well we’d planned, so often eluded us. And why, even when we were successful, there was an emptiness inside many of us. Why, as we navigated ‘the game of living’, we failed to nurture either ourselves or others, and failed to connect deeply with ‘Life’. It was that contact with ‘Life’ that touched and inspired John personally and professionally.
In 1990, at age 48, he retired from Fleetwood, sold his interests and retired all his other positions to embark on frequent international trips and five years’ rigorous training. He was away from home for extended periods, and eventually became the first Certified Three Principles Practitioner outside North America. He continued to travel, meeting, talking and training with many extraordinary people who were teaching and challenging long-held beliefs about the nature of the human experience – that often-elusive duo, ‘success and peace of mind’. It was clear to John that this approach was more than mere rhetoric, far more than the latest psychological, philosophical, sociological or ‘spiritual’ fad.
He saw that Psychology/Philosophy/Spirituality and Corporate Life/Organisational Life were inextricably connected – they were one and the same. It was clear that the Psychological/Philosophical/Spiritual source of each and every one of the ‘games of living’ we all play out was the missing element; and that, if understood, it was transformational. He recognised it to be the critical elemental factor.
Although almost unheard of outside North America back then, the approach was achieving remarkable results. Individuals, couples and organisations were being transformed, personal lives re-created – from the boardroom to the first-line employee, mums and dads, young and old, drug addicts and lifetime criminals.
In 1993, John founded the Philosophy of Living Centre, the first coaching, counselling and training organisation of its kind in Australia. As Executive Director, he oversaw and led programs that challenged long-held beliefs and entrenched opinions about how businesses and organisations were created – but, more importantly, how authentic, truly sustainable shifts can occur within each of us. John coached individuals and couples, and mentored CEOs, corporate leaders, managers and business owners worldwide. Impassioned, determined, empathic, John lived what he taught with integrity. He walked the talk – a quality eagerly sought in the community and in private and public enterprise.
John’s vision (which is even clearer today) was for a loving and understanding society that exists beyond the limited concepts of tolerance and acceptance and, as a natural consequence, truly embraces all. In this, society, economics and environmental sustainability go hand-in-hand. High-performance, low-maintenance, sustainable organisations are created from the ‘inside out’. We care for the disabled and disadvantaged. We foster a world in which individuals, families, organisations and communities are all they can be.
In 2005–2006, John again took stock and moved into a new phase of his life. He closed the Philosophy of Living Centre and devoted himself to recovering from serious illness. John decided to focus on counselling, coaching and mentoring people from his home office, and keeping his ‘hand in’ organisationally by working with start-ups and small organisations, eagerly helping anyone that approached him. He still does that today.
The guide – Possibility … a state of mind – has been in development since 2012. During these years, John has also been creating and preparing for the Possibility Project Workshops. They are both a culmination of his life’s work to date and his current contribution to a new future for humankind, the animals, plant life and all else that depend on the sustainability of planet Earth.
Getting this work out into the world is now his primary purpose.
To John, it is clear that in any moment we are either in a state of Possibility or one of impossibility. He believes he has seen the answer to what ails us – individually, as couples, families, businesses, organisations, communities, nations and as a global collective – and that is to see life increasingly from a state of Possibility.
As he says: ‘Possibility awaits each of us. Listen with a softened heart and open mind to hear its call. Respond with the innocence of “not knowing” and you will see for yourself beyond belief.’
You are welcome to join the conversation on our online discussion area.