Hey Guys, so I have touched based in a previous blog about why I think competitions are an important part of our growth within the industry, how I only compete against myself to see self development and how competing really pushes me in more ways than one.

If you haven’t read that blog please feel free. I want to elaborate a little and write about my experience within the American Crew All Star Challenge.

I have been watching American Crew for many years. More or less since I started my journey in male grooming to be fair. I started using Crew Products at Alan Jones Mens Grooming in Sevenoaks a number of years ago. Since then I had my eye on the All Star Challenge but back then the UK wasn’t part of it. I am not 100% sure why the competition wasn’t open to the UK but I heard rumours that this was going to change and shortly after, it did just that.

So once it was open to all I decided to give it a bash. Safe to say I failed on becoming a finalist a few times until last year. 2017 I entered an image and to my excitement got placed in the top 25. Now this was the exact same time my Nan was passing away and this had an even bigger impact on my desire to win as I had envisioned winning this for a very long time and thought that if I could pull this off before Nan passed away it would be an extra special gift to her and would make her so proud. I took my best mate with me on the night of the awards and I was pumped up. I was too pumped up, its all I could think about. I want to win and do this for Nan. It is safe to say that I was just a little obsessed back then ha! Don’t get me wrong I still am just in a different way…. I do have an addictive personality after all.

So the night of the awards I arrived with Robi in tow, we set off to London. Cracking evening was had but cutting a long story short I didn’t even get placed in the top 3. I kept smiling the whole evening and putting on a brave face but all I really wanted to do was go home and bury my head and be alone. The heartache was horrendous because I had put way to much pressure on myself and I should of known Nan was already proud. I was devastated and all sorts of thoughts were running through my head, I cant take losing again, I don’t want to risk rejection again etc…. I could go on and on. However Im thankful for my boy Robi being there, as my best mate he did exactly what all best mates do and picked me up. I carried on smiling but it was so hard. Then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to speak to Mr Johnny Baba, who to this day I owe, as he gave me some hard hearing constructive criticism. Boy it was like getting knocked clean out by a right hook (I spoke about judges feedback in the previous blog and it never gets easier to hear).

I walked away broken as I had worked so hard to get there. I ended up going straight back to see my Nan before she finally passed. I decided things had to change, not my skill set but my mindset. I started to re focus, I took time out and started to ask questions such as “why did I take that failure so hard?” And “How could I prevent it happening again or learn from it and become stronger?” This is where an echoing voice of Mr Baba swam around my head creating a flood of flash backs ha. I decided to face the failure head on and try to comeback stronger.

So I did just that, I looked at why I didn’t get placed, I listened to Mr Johnny Baba along with the other judges feedback and took my time to process it all. I did research into American Crew as a brand more and worked harder on my product knowledge. When I got through to the finals this year I remember just what it meant to win last year. I still had the same ambition and drive, I still had that urge to win, however the feeling was different. I handled being a finalist in my mind completely differently this time round. I didn’t even think about winning this year as my new mind set was in a different place. I was finally proud of the growth I could see between last years image and this years image. I was already winning with myself. There was no pressure like last year. It felt good to see how far I had progressed not only with work but with my own mind set.

This actually proved a lot more difficult however as again another little spanner got thrown in the mix. This time I lost my Grandad. How ironic that I found myself in the exact same position a year later. This goes to show a test of character, and I strongly believe everything is sent to us in life to test us, its just down to us how we use it for self development especially if it’s a similar situation. So being the emotional sensitive guy I am the questions started to flood into my thought process….

I could list all the questions but I would be here forever, so to cut it short on the night of the award ceremony my feeling told me everything I needed to know. My feeling and my mind showed me just how far I had come and grown as a person and for every question I asked myself I had a positive response. What came next I have only ever dreamt of……. Winning the UK American Crew All Star Challenge!

Goes to show that there is a difference between wanting to achieve something and being desperate to achieve something. Sometimes life has a funny way of showing us that we are just not ready for certain things so it throws us more tests. For me learning from those tests, removing all the pressure off myself and controlling that desperation to succeed was key. It was simply a massive bonus winning after all these years as it really has been the biggest goal I have ever set myself in the hairdressing world for personal reasons.

Nan and Grandad I know are so proud, they always were. More importantly now I’m proud.

Try and enjoy the failures as much as the wins. That is the most difficult part. Failure can make us if we allow it.

Mr Sam Wall


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