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Tony Bonnici, New Author


By Sarah Hodges

Tony Bonnici, admittedly a lifelong dyslexic, has just written and published a book, something he had never imagined doing. It’s remarkable!

As human beings, we live and grow, and sustain societies and cultures through storytelling. Everything you, dear reader, have come to learn entered your sphere of awareness through the powerful whisper of a story. We can likely trace storytelling back through the deep night of human history. It’s integral to our human experience around the fireside, in close-knit family groups and tribes. Now, imagine being on stage today, with someone asking you to publicly tell your whole, full story to a group of strangers, as someone did to Tony 4 years ago. What sensations and feelings would that request invoke in you? Maybe excitement, maybe trepidation. Maybe we fear our story veers too far off the “expected” path to be told in all its details, all its triumphs, and all its great ‘failures’.

I invite you to consider your whole story as a gift to our fellow human beings, every dark corner of it is a lesson worth sharing, and every great triumph is a feat worthy of trumpets soaring their songs through the air. A few years ago Tony attended a self-development seminar. He was an accomplished entrepreneur with some secrets he was too ashamed to reveal and successes he had never told for fear of ‘bragging’. When the workshop leader asked Tony to tell his story, he paused. Despite feeling a massive resistance to this task, Tony reminded himself that he had decided to “play full out” in life and in the workshop. He dove in and began to tell his full story for the first time. Lo and behold, he discovered that he did have a story worth telling. Through this exercise at the seminar, Tony brought to light the idea of writing a book. Six years later, he has now published his first book!

If you see his new book The Dojo: The Ancient Wisdom of Integrative Leadership for the Modern Entrepreneur on Amazon, or are familiar with any of his very successful companies and work, you probably would not guess how much Tony struggled with getting through the “provided” path of academics. Put down and labeled, Tony teetered between knowing his own worthiness deep inside himself – and feeling “less than” in the eyes of his peers and teachers. Without proper diagnosis or support from the education system, Tony was tossed amongst various labels and special-help classrooms, all simply because of what he later found out was dyslexia. Now as a life coach, Tony shows so much empathy and care for others, it shocks me to imagine anyone ever thinking he belonged in a classroom of autistic children. As a fellow student who was anything but autistic, Tony probably did more to help them than their teachers did!

In his book The Dojo, Tony describes how these trying school experiences, as well as his unique upbringing with two Zen Buddhist parents, shaped him and brought him to the incredibly abundant and powerful life that he lives today. His book provides an alternative ‘roadmap’ of integrative leadership for the modern entrepreneur. 

While Tony experienced the world of academics a little differently than many of his peers, he also excelled in creative, out-of-the-box thinking. After pushing himself to finish school with what he decided was an acceptable GPA, he jumped into the world of entrepreneurship – pretty uncommon for someone just getting out of high school. At the ripe old age of 18, Tony started his first business in car tinting. Not by any accident, he struck success and catapulted himself into a world of high-powered business and money-making. Soon he was working on Maseratis and Lamborghinis! Tony’s businesses started to affirm to him just how capable he really was. His differences were also his strengths. 

In case you have not experienced dyslexia, imagine trying to read or write, and all the letters exchanging fluidly on their way from the page to your eyes and mind. Imagine being asked to read aloud in front of your whole class, and seeing letters dance around the paper, unwilling to stay orderly and assembled. This may give you a slight sense of the challenges dyslexic people face, in a scripted world. 

How did Tony turn the years of labels and struggles into achievement and self-empowerment? With the good fortune of growing up with mindful parents, Tony held a self-belief and almost built-in motivation to live a positive life. Once he acknowledged that he needed to do work on his inner wounds, he stepped into this challenge. He sought out mentors who provided him with the framework and support to face his darker “shadows,” from which he could then find liberation and strength. He found a community of people also growing into more full-hearted, whole versions of themselves, dedicated to expressing and then releasing their old patterns of shame and untrue self-belief.

Fifteen years ago, Tony received a wake-up call just as his wife began to go into labor with their second son. His company was short on cash to make payroll, and he felt like he could multi-task the jobs of birthing and dealing with payroll. He sat in the room next door to his wife as she began to go into labor, focused on his computer, crunching numbers. When the last moment arrived to go to his wife and help deliver his son, he suddenly realized what an error he’d made. He had lost himself in his business when he should have been fully present for such a significant time in his family life. Never again, he thought. 

Tony now wants to help others avoid his mistakes and not go through the same blunders. 

Why is his book called The Dojo? Traditionally, a dojo is a place for both martial and spiritual training. Tony considers an entrepreneur’s business to be a place for powerful life learning. He coaches his clients to develop their life balance in work, self-care, family, and spiritual practice. He helps entrepreneurs integrate these four critical quadrants of their lives.

As a reader, you’ll find many instructive moments of startling honesty in Tony’s book.

Tony has stopped at nothing to develop a more fulfilling life, from business to home life, relationships with others, to his relationship with himself.

Tony is one of those rare individuals who puts his all into working through his “stuff.” Even with his many achievements, he continues his life mission to grow into a more complete being, every day. If you sit with him even for a few minutes or pick up his book, you will feel infused with a sense of boundless possibility, an exuberance to make “gold” from whatever you face on your life’s path, and not just in monetary terms, but the gold of the spirit.


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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)