The unexpected death of Australian cricket legend Shane Keith Warne at 52 has shocked the sports world. Warne died on March 4 from a heart attack while vacationing on Koh Samui island in Thailand.
As the greatest cricketer to ever play the game, Warne made a name for himself as an incredible bowler, retiring in 2007 to pursue a career as a commentator.
He was also known for speaking frankly about life and love off the pitch. Fans and admirers will never forget Warne’s homespun wisdom and his way of looking at the world.
Here are 12 pieces of can’t-miss advice from Warne about how to build a meaningful and fulfilling life.
1) Work hard and practice as much as you can
One of Warne’s top lessons for life is to work hard and never give up. Although he made headlines for his incredible performance on the pitch, Warne dealt with many challenges in his life.
This included a lot of pressure around his professional career.
As Warne says in this compelling 2018 interview on Good Morning Britain:
“The pressure and everything that’s on: in my case, it wasn’t a case of just turning up on the last day, bowling and taking four or five wickets and trying to win the game. It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, a lot of practice that goes into it.”
Warne wasn’t just talk, either.
Part of why he became such a great bowler is because he broke both legs at age six and learned to pull himself around using only his hands.
This absolute lad got around with pure determination by age six, strengthening the exact arm and hand muscle groups that would later skyrocket him to greatness on the pitch and make him the master of spin!
“My dad made me a trolley and I had plaster to my ankles and I had to use my hands to get around for a good six months, even longer because I couldn’t walk. I have got quite big hands and big wrists, so I think it did help me to get around and strengthen those wrists at a young age because leg spin bowling you do use your wrist at everything. So I do think that played a big part.”
Warne practiced what he preached later in life as well. On February 28 only a week before his death he posted about his plan to lose weight and get back in shape.
“Operation shred has started (10 days in) & the goal by July is to get back to this shape from a few years ago ! Let’s go 💪🏻👏🏻.”
2) Never let the labels and judgments of others define you
Another one of the top life lessons from Shane Warne that will help you live a better life is to never let others steer your ship.
As Warne said in the interview, there was tons of judgment and criticism of his personal life that came along with his success and becoming a public figure.
He had to be strong and resolute to not let the criticisms and labels of him by others define who he was and how he felt about himself.
“Perception doesn’t always equal reality,” Warne noted. “It’s easy to read the headlines and we all make a few mistakes along our journey. I’ve made plenty, and I’ll make plenty more.”
This kind of humility is something we could all learn from.
Mistakes in life can be learning opportunities, and struggles we go through can be fuel for our dreams. They are not something that we have to push down, deny or downplay.
Warne understood the crucial truth that you can only really become an effective and powerful person when you give up on trying to be a good guy and admit that your shadow is also an authentic part of you.
3) Healthy competition never hurt anyone
One of Warne’s life lessons comes from his behavior out on the pitch.
From a young age, as he made a name as an extremely talented cricketer, Warne also got a reputation for joking around and ribbing the competition out on the pitch. He could be quite intimidating at times with his energy and bravado against opponents.
His comments on healthy competition are good advice for all of us.
They show the major difference between good-natured rivalry and toxic resentment or bullying. In fact, the two have nothing to do with each other.
As Warne said in this interview at only 23-years-old, healthy competition can be a friendly thing.
“We just sort of have a friendly chat with the batsman and ask what they had for dinner or something like that. It’s all part of cricket: I s’pose whatever happens out in the middle stays. We always have a beer or whatever after the game.”
Warne also talks about his earlier years partying and eating whatever he wanted, which ended when he lost 15 kilograms and focused more on competition.
Discipline and holding yourself to a higher standard can yield powerful results!
Competition and rivalry can hone you into a skilled and effective person, as long as you remember that your opponents and competition are never your enemy, they are just worthy competitors.
4) Whatever else you do, be genuine!
Warne also has an important warning for our clickbait, Instagram culture.
Although he rose to fame before social media and the widespread Wifi world we now live in, Warne experienced some of the lead-ups to that and watched viral culture grow in the past two decades.
According to Warne, some of our problems in society come from trying to pretend to be someone we’re not and live up to socially-conditioned images of what we think we “should” be or which we think will impress or attract others.
We should stop, he said.
“It’s like social media where people pretend the life they have. Just be true to yourself, be honest, up front and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. I’m proud of who I am, I’m happy with who I am and I always just try to be myself.”
“I think the most important thing with me is I’ve never pretended to be someone I’m not,” Warne said. “I’ve always been myself.”
How many of us can say the same?
There are so many times in life when we’re pushed to be something we’re not, told who we are or who we should be.
All of us could learn from the principle of defining who we are for ourselves and thinking out of the box, instead of just doing what we’re conditioned to do.
5) We all need a tribe
As Warne noted, retiring from a group you’ve always been part of can be really tough, which is part of why he believes that the close-knit world of cricket has the highest suicide rate among ex-players.
“You’ve been surrounded by people we’re you were all doing the same thing and you care about each other and you’re there for each other. Suddenly when you retire, if you can’t get a gig in commentary or something else coaching, then you’re out on your own,” Warne explained.
“To try and replace it is very, very difficult.”
Warne opens up about this at length in his 2018 autobiography No Spin.
The fact of the matter is that the cricket world wasn’t all roses for Warne and he had various media scandals, but it was a community and a tight tribe.
And that’s something we all need in one form or another, even those of us who are highly independent and self-driven.
One of the most important life lessons from Shane Warne that will help you live a better life is that we all need a tribe.
And there’s absolutely no shame in that need for a collective and a community.
That doesn’t mean we can’t still be an individual, after all a tribe of individuals is a beautiful thing!
6) Being a strong man includes being vulnerable
Another of the valuable life lessons from Shane Warne that will help you live a better life is his opinion on being a “real man”.
Warne talked a lot about his struggles with depression and self-esteem.
“I’ve never really revealed that, but I spent a few days with Jeremy locked away in a hotel trying to be a better person and understand why things happened. I go into detail in my book.”
Warne says he learned a lot through his struggles, including the practice of writing his own obituary and seeing what he felt from that.
“I said wonderful things about myself,” Warne joked, adding:
“It was quite tough, but I think I worked out that when you get told you’re not good enough at an early age you can either go two ways. You can sit there and sulk and go to things that you shouldn’t be doing, or you get driven by it and be inspired by it and try and be something else.”
Sadly, Warne’s unexpected death at 52 brought his obituary to the front page far sooner than anyone would have imagined.
It came on the same day as the passing of fellow Aussie cricket icon Rod Marsh, who Warne paid tribute to online only hours before passing away himself.
7) Romantic love is rare, and it’s not always easy
Warne didn’t have an easy go of it in his love life, further proof that even the biggest champions among us don’t necessarily get an easy ride in romance.
Although Warne was with some beautiful women, he didn’t just glide through his love life, he had a rocky road with plenty of challenges and even met his “true love” later in life after his first marriage…
He married his girlfriend Simone Callahan in his mid-20s and stayed with her for a decade until 2005. Callahan said that she found Warne “cute” and “genuine” and was drawn to him right away.
Warne eventually split with Callahan in 2005, going on to date the British celebrity Liz Hurley.
The two announced they were getting engaged in 2011 but called it off, a further disappointment for a rocky romance life.
Warne said that the years with Hurley were the best years of his life, even though they came when he was older and after he’d already had kids.
According to Warne, far too many of us look at life as a sort of scheduled program where certain things are “supposed” to happen and we can’t be happy unless they do.
But he said that actually for him it was the opposite and the things which were socially expected to happen ended up not being as fulfilling as those experiences later in life that came spontaneously and outside of social norms.
“Every relationship was different,” Warne noted.
“Too many people say we want a white picket fence, children, a husband and wife and this is the certain way it is. But every relationship is different and it’s whatever works for you two is the right relationship. For us we were great and it was the happiest time in my life. I was madly in love with Elizabeth and we’re still friends now and we still speak to each other all the time and our kids speak to each other… Unfortunately it just fizzled out. It was nothing that I did wrong or that she did wrong. It was just one those things, it was all going to be too difficult.”
8) We are all social creatures who need to communicate
Every one of us has times in life when we’d prefer to be alone or are going through a hard time.
One of Warne’s biggest pieces of life advice, however, is that “we all need to talk to people” especially when we’re feeling down.
None of this is about being “soft,” embracing a victim mentality or complaining. It’s about being authentic and owning the hard times along with the good.
It’s about accepting life’s peaks and valleys instead of trying to push down the difficult emotions and experiences that we all go through.
Warne’s message here is clear:
It’s OK not to be OK, and to admit that.
It’s OK to open up to others around you and be yourself.
It’s even OK sometimes to just flat out admit that you’re feeling lonely and depressed.
That’s not weakness or shameful, it’s the human condition and it’s a part of being an authentic person
9) What happens around the world matters to all of us
One of the key life lessons from Shane Warne that will help you live a better life is that we’re all connected.
Posting recently before his death, Warne opened up about his feelings on Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The bloody invasion kicked off on February 24 and has killed thousands on both sides, including an unknown number of Ukrainian civilians. The prospect of nuclear war is even now on the horizon.
Although experts like Noam Chomsky have been warning for years that Ukraine was being used by the West to antagonize Russia by suggesting Ukraine join NATO, there’s no doubt this war is going to drag on much longer than either side hopes.
The human suffering affects all of us, and we’re all connected in this world. If you want to live a meaningful life, keeping your eyes open to the suffering and injustices around the world is important, especially as you try to raise awareness and make a difference.
Writing on Twitter, Warne said:
The entire world is with the people of Ukraine as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. The pictures are horrific and I can’t believe more is not being done to stop this. Sending lots of love to my Ukrainian mate @jksheva7 and his family ❤️
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) February 26, 2022
“The entire world is with the people of Ukraine as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. The pictures are horrific and I can’t believe more is not being done to stop this. Sending lots of love to my Ukrainian mate @jksheva7 and his family ❤️.”
10) Family means everything
Many of us have unique families with their own share of difficulties and issues.
Warne said his family could be quite strict on him, but he actually appreciated it. He felt that their voice of reason kept him a bit humbler and stopped his worst egotism.
He also deeply appreciated their support during his career on the road.
“I’m very lucky to have a great family, great people around me. It’s quite lonely being away on the road for life, but it’s always nice to get told to pull your head in. I’m very lucky that my mom and dad often remind me to pull my head in,” Warne said.
“And my children, there’s no filter with the kids. They just sort of tell you how it is and how they’re feeling, which is awesome. And I’ve got a great relationship with them.”
11) Brutal honesty can be refreshing and empowering
In his book No Spin, Warne noted that he’d done his best to be “brutally honest.”
Despite some anger from his ex-wife Callahan and some controversy, he said it was part of his policy of telling the truth even when it hurt.
If you really think about it, many of our favorite authors and public figures get that way because they take off the filter that often separates celebrities from the crowd.
They quite simply tell the truth about how they feel, the shit they’ve dealt with and their emotional rollercoaster on the ride of life.
Part of that brutal honesty is accepting what went wrong or off-course without regret and pining for what could have been.
“If I sat here regretting everything I’ve done in my life, I’d be in a straitjacket and a padded cell I think. So I don’t really look back, I look forward and say ‘OK, that’s fine, I can’t change that. I can make it better today. And I think it’s really important to have that attitude.”
12) Travel can open up your heart and mind
One of Warne’s life lessons comes from his experience traveling the world as a cricketer.
“It’s pretty amazing traveling around the world for eight or nine months of the year with your mates trying to win in a game of cricket.”
Warne’s love of travel continued throughout his life, and he died while on vacation with friends in Thailand of what doctors say was a congenital issue with his heart that led to a heart attack.
There’s no doubt that traveling the world can open you up to many different cultures, cuisines, spiritual beliefs, and experiences.
Sometimes all it takes to start opening your mind is opening your door and walking around a bit.
You never know what you might find right outside your front door or a thousand miles from home in another country!
Warne was an adventurer to the core. He pushed boundaries, pushed himself to the limit, and emerged with wisdom not only about sports but about life and love.
Rest in peace, king!
Warne is survived by his ex-wife Simone Callahan and his three kids Brooke, Jackson and Summer.
When asked what he’d really write on his tombstone in 2018, Warne was clear. He’d write that he was “loved by Brooke, Jackson and Summer.”
Warne will always be the Sheikh of Tweak and the King!
Nobody will ever match the leg spin and champion’s attitude that he brought to the pitch and the inspiration that his victories brought to us all.
“To find words to adequately express our sadness is an impossible task for us, and looking to a future without Shane is inconceivable,” said Warne’s parents Keith and Brigitte.
The most we can do is remember this great man and his larger-than-life personality and determination.
Let’s raise a toast to Warne and all that he accomplished and stood for.
We’ll never forget this legend and his excellence on and off the field.
Rest in peace, mate!