FIND­ING A BAL­ANCE

COW­BOYS HERO JOHNATHAN THURSTON TALKS LEAV­ING WORK AT THE OF­FICE AND PUTTING FAM­ILY FIRST

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

WHAT DOES AN AV­ER­AGE DAY IN THE LIFE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Dur­ing the footy sea­son, my av­er­age day in­volves some hard train­ing ses­sions which could com­prise of a two-hour weight ses­sion or a two-hour field ses­sion or, if the coach wants to push me, a dou­ble ses­sion. The re­main­der of the week could in­clude com­mu­nity work, spon­sor­ship com­mit­ments and me­dia ap­pear­ances. I gen­er­ally only get one day off a week, which is spent with the fam­ily.

HOW OF­TEN DO YOU TRAVEL?

Travel is a big part of my ca­reer, both on the field and off the field. On field, I travel to rep­re­sent my club, state and na­tion and off field I travel as an owner and com­mu­nity am­bas­sador for North Queens­land air­line Skytrans, and also for me­dia com­mit­ments with Chan­nel Nine. This year alone my travel itin­er­ary in­cluded the World Club Chal­lenge in Eng­land, seven weeks away with the Four Na­tions tour, 12 away games, three State of Ori­gin games, Chan­nel Nine me­dia com­mit­ments and, wear­ing my Skytrans hat, com­mu­nity vis­its to Au­rukun, Thurs­day Island and Horn Island.

IS MOST OF YOUR TRAVEL FOR WORK OR FOR FUN? PLEASE EX­PLAIN.

Nearly all my travel is for work and has given me the op­por­tu­nity to meet some in­cred­i­ble peo­ple from all walks of life. I have had the chance to not only travel the globe but visit some great lit­tle re­mote cor­ners of North Queens­land.

YOU WEAR A LOT OF DIF­FER­ENT HATS. COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE OUR READ­ERS A BRIEF RUN­DOWN OF THE DIF­FER­ENT ROLES IN YOUR PRO­FES­SIONAL LIFE?

My pro­fes­sional ca­reer in­cludes: co-cap­tain of the North Queens­land Toy­ota Cow­boys, Queens­land State of Ori­gin rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Aus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tive, In­dige­nous All Stars rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Chanel Nine sports com­men­ta­tor – The Footy Show, co-owner and com­mu­nity am­bas­sador for North Queens­land air­line Skytrans.

WHAT IS THE MOST IM­POR­TANT ROLE IN YOUR LIFE? PLEASE EX­PLAIN?

The most im­por­tant role I play in life is to be the best fa­ther and hus­band I can be. I spend all my off-field time with them, in­clud­ing tak­ing the girls to swim­ming lessons each week. When I am away, I Skype them so I can stay up to date each day with all their news and lit­tle achieve­ments.

HOW DO YOU STAY GROUNDED?

I sur­round my­self with good peo­ple who are also pos­i­tive and com­mu­nity minded. I have a very close net­work of fam­ily and friends. I also have a big role within the com­mu­nity and work with peo­ple from all back­grounds. When I do get the chance to have a round of golf, my score cer­tainly keeps my grounded!

HOW IM­POR­TANT DO YOU THINK IT IS TO HAVE A LIFE THAT HAS A BAL­ANCE BE­TWEEN WORK, FAM­ILY AND DOWN­TIME?

Bal­ance is very im­por­tant and one of the great things about liv­ing in North Queens­land is that a work-life bal­ance maybe a lit­tle eas­ier to achieve. Be­cause I travel so much dur­ing the year, we hol­i­day at home and en­joy liv­ing on the beach. Oc­ca­sion­ally I will fit in a game of golf with my team­mates, which I class as team bond­ing!

DO YOU BE­LIEVE YOU HAVE ACHIEVED BAL­ANCE IN YOUR LIFE BE­TWEEN WORK AND FAM­ILY COM­MIT­MENTS?

Yes, I do be­lieve I have been able to achieve this bal­ance as I can quickly make men­tal shifts be­tween work and home. I have the abil­ity to be able to switch off from the pres­sures of the job, and give my loved ones my full at­ten­tion. I think this is re­ally im­por­tant.

WITH SUCH A BUSY AND HIGH-PRO­FILE CA­REER, HOW DO YOU MAIN­TAIN YOUR RE­LA­TION­SHIPS WITH YOUR WIFE AND FAM­ILY?

I have a lot of com­mit­ments and my wife, Sam, and I care­fully bal­ance these com­mit­ments with enough fam­ily time. Our fam­ily en­joys the sim­ple plea­sures of liv­ing in North Queens­land such as time in the pool, bar­be­cues with fam­ily and friends.

WHAT AD­VICE WOULD YOU OF­FER PEO­PLE WHO MIGHT BE STRUG­GLING TO BAL­ANCE A BUSY, HIGH-PRO­FILE CA­REER WITH THEIR PRI­VATE LIVES?

Al­though work is very im­por­tant, learn to switch off and re­ally be present when you are with loved ones.

HOW IM­POR­TANT DO YOU THINK A SENSE OF HU­MOUR IS WHEN IT COMES TO DEAL­ING WITH CHAL­LENG­ING SIT­U­A­TIONS?

Hav­ing a good sense of hu­mour is cer­tainly a big part of who I am. I can laugh at my­self dur­ing a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and still know I can per­form at my best. My com­pet­i­tive mus­cle mem­ory helps me to per­form at my best when un­der pres­sure.

HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME FOR ALL THE DIF­FER­ENT AS­PECTS OF YOUR LIFE?

My wife and I have a strong work ethic so we do try to fit in as much as we can. The footy sea­son spans 11 months of the year, so I usu­ally only get four weeks off a year. Sam man­ages my di­ary and has the job of jug­gling the com­mit­ments with en­sur­ing I have enough fam­ily time.

HOW IM­POR­TANT IS BE­ING A POS­I­TIVE ROLE MODEL?

Be­ing a pos­i­tive role model is one of the most im­por­tant jobs I have to­day. I un­der­stand how much of a dif­fer­ence sports­peo­ple can make to the lives of dif­fer­ent peo­ple. How­ever, work­ing in the com­mu­nity space wasn’t al­ways some­thing that came nat­u­rally to me at first. When I first moved to Townsville, my ca­reer kick­started re­ally quickly. I didn’t quite know how to deal with the com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions. To­day, how­ever, it is a dif­fer­ent story, and I am very pas­sion­ate about my cul­ture and her­itage. When­ever I can, I send out pos­i­tive mes­sages to in­dige­nous kids to stay in school and get a good ed­u­ca­tion. I want them to fin­ish school and be­come pos­i­tive role mod­els within their own com­mu­ni­ties. Last year I vis­ited the Au­rukun Pri­mary School with Skytrans and the kids had pre­pared an amaz­ing talk about lead­er­ship, grit and en­durance in re­la­tion to life in gen­eral and my ca­reer on the field. I am also in­volved in the North Queens­land Cow­boys Earn and Learn pro­gram, which works with schools all over North Queens­land.

YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED THE BEST FOOTY PLAYER IN THE WORLD. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

It’s very hum­bling when peo­ple think and talk about me in that way. I have been play­ing in some very good teams which helps as well.

COULD YOU GIVE OUR CU­RI­OUS READ­ERS SOME IDEA OF WHAT YOUR DIET IS LIKE?

My diet is pretty good and as I have got older I have a bet­ter grasp on what works for me to per­form at my best. At the back end of the week, I eat a lot of car­bo­hy­drates such as rice, and at the start of the week, I eat a lot of pro­teins such as steak to re­pair the body.

WHAT HAP­PENS ONCE YOU RE­TIRE FROM PLAY­ING FOOTY?

I have signed a con­tract with Chan­nel Nine and am re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting more in­volved in side­line com­men­tary and The Footy

Show. I think I can of­fer our fans in­sights as to how the foot­ball play­ers are think­ing dur­ing dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. I am also con­sid­er­ing get­ting my pi­lot’s li­cence!

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