IMPROVISE - ADAPT - OVERCOME.
These three words - a mantra Paul learnt in the Australian Army as a young Paratrooper - resonated with him the first time he heard them.
Paul chased adventure wherever he could find it, from his wild ride as a hoodlum teen and his life on the edge, to hauling his way up to the elite echelons of Australia's defence forces. But trouble hunted him down in the form of a brutal shark in February 2009. Paul lost two limbs, and his career as a daredevil Navy Clearance Diver was flung into jeopardy.
Drawing on everything his eventful life had taught him, Paul left nothing to chance in his recovery. He fought through excruciating pain, smashing challenge after challenge, and amazing the medical staff with his will to succeed. His inspiring story takes 'never say die' to a whole new level.
In the five years since the shark attack, Paul's life has changed in every aspect. Having left full time Navy Service in August 2012, after continuing to instruct Navy Divers for a further 3.5 years, Paul has travelled the world as a top motivational speaker, passionate environmentalist, adventurer and mentor to school kids.
He has spoken at venues all around the world, from the United Nations in New York and the US Navy in San Diego, to Anzac Day military celebrations in front of thousands, and keynotes for multimillion dollar corporations and charity organizations around Australia and New Zealand.
He has also been a guest on every major Australian TV talk show. Just recently, he starred as a guest trainer on the Biggest Loser Australia, and he will soon be co-hosting a program for Discovery Channel's 2014 Shark WeekGreat White Matrix.
An amazing man, an amazing story. Paul will simply inspire you.
Paul de Gelder has an incredible story to tell. It is a story of overwhelming odds, brilliantly overcome through hard work, gutsy determination, and a great sense of humor. I knew in an instant that I needed Paul to tell his story to the Divers of the United States Navy. His effortless charm and engaging manner reels you in for the most motivating ride of your life. A man is not defined by what happens to him, he is defined by how he handles it.
That makes Paul a most remarkable man!
- Commander Michael Egan, United States Navy, Supervisor of Diving.
From the moment I met Paul in his hospital bed, I knew I was privileged. Horrendously mauled and recovering from such drastic surgery ... I was overwhelmed by his aura, his positive outlook and his will to live. In eight years of reporting for 60 Minutes, Paul, without question is one of the most inspirational human beings I have met! Everyone, whoever they are, can learn so much from Paul... I know I have.
- Peter Overton, Reporter, 60 Minutes
Paul is an inspiration for many reasons, his obvious tenancy to recover physically from such a horrific attack, through to his unswerving passion and commitment towards his profession coupled with his generous, warm, infectious persona. Paul shared openly in regards to his life as a clearance diver through to the day of the attack and the events that followed. But what really stood out for me personally was when Paul shared the very real and defining moment that carried with it a choice; the choice to succumb to the pain and severity of his situation or to fight for his much loved old life back. His strength and will, only just out shine his humour and light heartedness, qualities that undoubtedly carried him through his darkest times. The impact and lasting impression he has made upon my groups and me personally is remarkable and I am blessed to call him friend.
- Meredith Julliard, Customer Co-ordinator, Freshstart Australia
Paul's presentation was definitely the highlight of our conference. He spoke very well and the feedback I have from the staff was fantastic, they were very inspired and touched by his story. Some of the staff wouldn't let him leave as they had so many questions. He did a fantastic job and I only hope he continues to share his story.
- Lauren Taylor, EA to Acting Director Aligned Channels Business Development, AMP Limited