IF you spend your working life being set on fire, deliberately crashing cars and jumping off tall buildings, chances are you’re going to have a fair amount of confidence.
And Grantham-based stuntman Riky Ash - who does all of those things and more - has written a book he hopes will help people learn to live their lives with his positive outlook.
With Confidence is what Riky calls his “first aid kit” for the mind, and offers a straight-talking, no-nonsense guide to how to achieve your goals and progress in life.
Riky said: “The book is my life, my mindset and what makes me successful. It’s about not holding yourself back. One of the problems people have in life is that they put barriers in front of themselves.”
From humble origins in Nottingham, Riky has carved out a career as one of the top names in stunt performing and co-ordination.
He left Top Valley School in Nottingham when he was 15 and then trained as a cabinet maker at a company in Netherfield.
The turning point in Riky’s life came in 1988, when he took up kung fu. Now ranked at 6th dan level, training in the martial art opened the door to a new career.
He decided to undertake drama training in the hope of becoming a martial arts actor, but was advised by Equity - the trade union representing artists - that he would be better off registering as a stuntman.
In 1992 he began training for his new career, and in 1993 performed his first stunt for the BBC drama Casualty.
Riky said: “I used to be a very negative person. I lacked confidence and I never thought anything good would happen to me. My positive steps were taking up kung fu and changing my mindset.”
As the years progressed and his career flourished, Riky found that he was able to use the things he had learned about adopting a positive mental approach to offer advice and guidance to friends and family. Eventually, a friend suggested writing a book to pass on his insights.
Riky said: “If anybody wants to improve their life and be successful they have to be willing to change. People are not willing to accept sometimes that they are the problem.
“Self-help books are hard to sell because the people who need them are in denial.
“I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear and a lot of people can’t cope with that. If people are willing to improve their lives, this really is a book for them.”
Having the right attitude to dealing with problems and setbacks is the key to success, says Riky: “One of the things that I’m aware of is that in all of our lives we will hit that rocky road. Your state of mind and ability to recover from that is where your strength is.”
In his long and varied career as a stuntman Riky has done it all, and is no stranger to crashing cars, being set on fire and falling from high places.
His favourite job to date was working on a Ferrari commercial in Sicily, and he is currently working on two new projects for the BBC - a drama called Bound, and the TV series James May’s Man Lab.
But he has big ambitions to spread his message even further.
He said: “I think what I’m progressing towards is my own TV programme about motivation, using my stunt skills. It’s bringing all that I’ve learned together into a programme that will help people make their lives more successful.”
Riky passionately believes that his positive attitude to life has been the catalyst for his development from a cabinet maker who drove a secondhand van that cost £300 to a successful stuntman living a comfortable lifestyle.
He was proud to be featured in a book by writer Jamie X Oliver called The Secret of My Success - where he was included alongside some of the biggest hitters in the world of business, including Richard Branson and Bill Gates. He was also named in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most versatile stuntman.
Riky said: “Success is not about money, it’s about what you want to achieve in your life. Stunt work has given me a comfortable lifestyle, but my message has got nothing to do with money. If you look at most books like this they’re written by doctors or psychiatrists, but this has been written by a guy who has come from nowhere and has made a success of his life.”
l Find out more, sign up for motivational advice bulletins and browse Riky’s range of stuntman merchandise, visit www.successfully-you.tv