My journey to the Tao Lifestyle™
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
My life, like so many others, is a culmination of the decisions I've made in response to challenges. At pivotal moments, I had the choice to heed my inner voice and intuition or to turn a blind eye to it. My experiences and the choices I made have shaped my personal philosophy and led me to establish The Tao Lifestyle™.
Childhood to early work life: Born in Belgium in a loving and caring family but mentally prisoner of the big family traumas...
“There is no land like the land of your childhood.”
I was born in Belgium into a loving and caring family with a farming background. While my early life was filled with love from my parents, it was also a challenging time for me.
My father, who had been deprived of the opportunity to receive a university education and better life due to unfortunate circumstances, transferred his unfulfilled dreams and frustrations onto me.
As the eldest child, I felt the pressure to be the best in everything I did, whether it was sports or academics. This drive to please my father and live up to his expectations led me to develop an overly competitive identity, fueled by anxiety, fear, and self-doubt.
Despite my academic success, I lacked confidence in myself and felt like a mental prisoner of the big family traumas.
My life since then has been a journey to find my inner self and peace. The quest to let go of perfectionism and the constant need for validation has been a challenging but rewarding journey.
Early 2000th - 1st Turning Point: The start of my relationship with Michele, my (future) wife, and expatriation to Malaysia: New horizons, new resources. The light starts entering the prison walls...
Early Adulthood & First Decisive Moment
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tzu
In the early 2000s, armed with a degree in engineering and later in Business Administration, I set out on a path to achieve my ambition of becoming a CEO. But as I pursued my goals, I found myself feeling unfulfilled and lacking the inner peace I was searching for.
It was during this period that I met my future wife, Michele. Her unwavering support and encouragement led me to take a bold step and move to Malaysia. This was a turning point in my life that opened my eyes to new horizons and new possibilities.
Adapting to life in a new country was not easy, but I persevered. The move exposed me to a range of new ideas and philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism, and the works of thought leaders such as Eckhart Tolle and Anthony Robbins. I also took up yoga, which helped me break down mental barriers and increased my awareness of what makes me truly happy.
In place of my competitive mindset in sports, I discovered the joy of running with the Hash House Harriers (PH3) and the sense of tranquility it brought. I also pursued further education in NLP and attended seminars by Anthony Robbins, all of which contributed to the development of my philosophy - The Tao Lifestyle™.
This phase of my life was a slow and steady journey of self-discovery, but it was a journey that led me to a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. And it all started with a single step into the unknown
2007 - 2nd Turning Point: My first marathon race and new learnings. My love for running reached new heights and it incrementally served as a way to create some “space” in my busy life as a management consultant......
First Tryst With Marathon & The Second Piece In The Puzzle
When life has a plan for you, it unfolds in a beautiful manner, even if it might not seem like it at the time. Despite having a personal life that was flourishing, my work life was facing challenges. The SME I was working for encountered difficulties, leading me to explore freelancing.
This was my first experience outside of a traditional 9 to 5 job and allowed me to focus on my personal growth, though work was not always stable. I decided to take on a full marathon as a way to find purpose, and it ended up being my second turning point.
As a perfectionist, I prepared for the marathon by reading running books and practicing new techniques. In December 2007, I successfully completed my first full marathon in Singapore, finishing in a respectable 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Since then, I've read extensively about running and incorporated the techniques into my training, deepening my understanding of both the mental and physical aspects of the sport. These techniques have made their way into the Tao of Running philosophy that I now teach.
In 2009, I returned to the corporate world, but running remained a critical part of my life, serving as my personal time for introspection, de-stressing, and self-reflection. Even when I joined Accenture and had to travel frequently for work, my love for running only grew stronger. It became my outlet for managing the demands and pressures of a high-profile consulting career.
In 2010, on the year of my 35th birthday, I set what I consider to be a bold and ambitious goal: "Running around the Earth challenge." My goal is to run 40,000 km in a healthy manner for both my body and mind and complete it before I turn 70. Today, I am well on my way to reaching that goal.
2013 - 3rd Turning Point: My first Vipassana meditation retreat [The term "Vipassana" means "insightful"]: This experience helped lay the foundation for the Tao of Running™ framework and made a significant impact on my understanding of the connection between running and mindfulness.
First Encounter With Vipassana & The 3rd Piece In The Puzzle
Inspired by Manish Chopra's book, The Equanimous Mind, and his personal experience with a 10-day Vipassana retreat, I was eager to experience the transformative power of this ancient form of meditation for myself. After some research, I headed to a temple in Thailand that offered Vipassana retreats and embarked on what would become the third turning point in my life.
The retreat was both mentally and physically challenging, and I fell ill with dengue fever. Despite this, I was determined to practice mindfulness and equanimity. The experience was mentally draining, but it proved to be a transformative one.
After completing the retreat, I began to experiment with incorporating the meditation techniques I learned into my running practice. I was surprised to discover that under the right conditions, I could apply these techniques and see a significant improvement in my enjoyment of running and my overall mental and physical performance.
The framework for my Tao of Running began falling into place like a jigsaw puzzle, piece by piece.
2015 - 4th Turning Point: My second Vipassana retreat reinforced my belief in the power of mindfulness and solidified my decision to leave my corporate job and launch Tao of Running™, a holistic approach to health and well-being.
Launch of Tao of Running & The 4th Piece In The Puzzle
In 2014, I took a break from my job with the intention of participating in a second Vipassana retreat and drafting the framework for the Tao of Running. I traveled to Kuantan to experience the Goenka school of Vipassana.
After sharing my experiences with friends, I received a lot of positive feedback and interest in my approach. As a result, I launched a pilot version of the Tao of Running program in January 2015 with a group of friends. Many of them reported benefits such as weight loss, increased focus at work, reduced stress and anxiety, and a newfound sense of joy and peace while running.
During my time practicing meditation and running with meditation principles, I became increasingly aware that my professional life as a consultant was not aligned with my inner self and true passions. I realized that I didn't have a genuine desire to become a CEO, but instead, I was more fulfilled by helping others and improving their lives.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to discover their true calling in life, but for those who do, the rewards can be immense. In 2015, at the age of 40, I found my calling in Malaysia. I left my job as a consultant and fully dedicated myself to setting up Tao of Running and Tao Lifestyle. Since then, over 250 people have gone through my program and benefited from it.
Throughout this journey, I have continued to expand my knowledge and skills through training in areas such as the science of happiness, endurance mastery, neuroscience, and the science of breathing and flow. I am also certified as a holistic health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This experience has been life-changing and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Today - The journey doesn't end there... Two significant personal challenges and the launch of the brand Tao Lifestyle™ The ultimate goal is to guide more individuals in re-designing their lifestyles, with the aim of attaining a fit body, a sharp mind, and a happy soul!
The Story Today - The journey is never ending...
My passion for personal development, my experience as a holistic health coach, and my desire to make a difference in people's lives led me to create new offerings under the brand Tao Lifestyle™. This focus is on customizing the approach to better meet the unique needs of both corporate clients and individuals.
In the same period, I encountered two significant personal challenges that further strengthened my commitment to my mission.
In 2017, I lost my father to heart disease, which reinforced my determination to help others lead healthier lifestyles to prevent similar outcomes. I am glad we had a chance to make peace with him before his demise and tell him how much I love him
The second challenge came in 2018 after running my first ultra-trail in Cameron Highlands, where I unexpectedly won my age category by following my effortless running principles. However, after the race, I began experiencing discomfort and limping regularly. After undergoing an fMRI, I was diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), a genetic condition affecting both hips, but more severely on the right.
Instead of opting for immediate surgery, I decided to explore alternative methods and spent two years incorporating specific tissue work exercises, stretching, strength training, osteopathy, physiotherapy, minimalist running, and hypnotherapy into my routine.
This process not only allowed me to learn more about myself but also gave me new tools to help my clients with injuries. Despite this, I ultimately underwent surgery on my right hip in 2021.
After the surgery, I experienced compensations, and my left hip began to cause discomfort and pain. I am currently undergoing a similar process for my left hip and have seen slow but continuous improvement. This experience has taught me humility and acceptance, as I had to adapt my identity to align with my physical limitations.
At 48, I don't know if I will need surgery on my second hip in the future, but I still enjoy running as a way to cultivate my health, fitness, mental balance, resilience, and well-being. My purpose remains unwavering, and I continue to help an increasing number of people find balance, harmony, and joy in running, as well as helping business leaders and entrepreneurs improve their health, resilience, and performance at work.
As Steve Jobs once said“: You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
- Passion for personal transformation & human sciences: Certified NLP Practitioner, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, nutrition theories (Certified Holistic Health Coach), science of breathing, science of happiness.
- Passion for business transformation: Process improvement expert (Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) for the last 11 years (e.g. Accenture)