Not sure if you noticed but there has been a couple of “alterations” on my website, most of which is a new photo. Just trying to keep things current and updated. We’ve also changed some script and the words “Beyond Limits” have been added. To be completely transparent, this is a new focus on both my material and marketing. I have always had a corny joke; “I only have one life! I’m not like actress, Shirley MacLaine, who can just make one up whenever she wants! That’s a reference to Ms. MacLaine’s interest in reincarnation and the afterlife. Seriously, I have been telling my own life story ever since I have a memory and though it isn’t a burden, try to picture what that would be like? And I’m not just talking about my work. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t have a personal interaction with a stranger. Several years ago, my wife and business partner, Darlene observed I am in a position to not only take away that awkward moment when I meet someone by explaining why I have no arms before they ask, as I’m pretty sure they want to know, but I can change the “energy” of the entire interaction and therefore, even make someone’s day! Sounds pretty obvious huh? Yet, for most of my adult life, I believed in waiting to be asked, not assuming anything and while I should not assume people like my forthright comments, it’s actually not “about me” and honest, I’ve never wanted it to be! Unlike a rock star, famous actor or any celebrity, really, I never wanted to “stick out”. Especially not for the major reason I do. But my parents taught me to accept my life with humitliy and I believe I have largely done that. But here is why I am writing this particular blog.
Truth: I have 100% legitimately dedicated my life to making a positive imprint on my world. I’m not bragging! I know it sounds like it! It was ingrained in me from my earliest thoughts as a small child. I vividly remember my Mom telling me why I had to wear the artificial arms I absolutely hated and didn’t need and didn’t ask for! Technically, I was a “foster child”, after my birth family gave me up at five days of age, but I never, ever, felt that way. Hilda and Jack Law would become my forever family after taking me in to their foster home and that was for me, like winning ten lotteries. I mention this because while I was a “Law” in every sense of family, the government owned my butt till I was 18 years old. So I “had no choice” in wearing prosthetics. I was like a “guinea pig” as I was also one of the first “Thalidomide Babies” in Canada, so the medical community had almost zero knowledge of what might happen to all of us and every step was new one. While I didn’t wear them all the time as per doctor’s instructions, I still wore them and when I complained, Mom would say…”Think of how much this will help people who actually need arms and your sacrifice will make the world better!” See. That’s how it started. And it remains the same. I don’t tell my story because I have nothing else to talk about and frankly, that’s how this new focus began.
While working with a speaking consultant I have great respect for, she asked a great question; “Why should a corporate client hire you?” Let me clarify please. I have more experience speaking to students than most speakers on planet earth. I’ve been visiting schools since 1975 as an Easter Seals Ambassador (we called it Timmy), then officially as an employee of Easter Seals in Saskatchewan in the early 80’s and then as a full-time, self-employed speaker since 1988. I had spoken to adults, of course, but it really wasn’t until the mid 90’s I started doing what we in the speaking business call “Corporate” on a regular basis. Frankly, the only thing that changed from kids was the language. I’m a story teller and it has stood me very well. But how many times can you tell essentially the same story? Forever, I guess. But I wanted to practice my own words so back to the consultant’s excellent question…”Why should a corporate client hire me?”
I have always believed that while we may not get to “choose” the life we get, we do get to choose the way we live it! I have “chosen” to live my life with a “positive approach”, and not because I’m a “motivational speaker”! I became a speaker because of my desire to make my life stand for something but not as a legacy; as a promise to myself to try and make the world better! Clearly, not everyone will be in the same position to do that on the same stage as me but when I refer to “the world”, I am referring to it metaphorically. I have for over fifty years reflected on how much my life was altered by my parent’s approach to my having no arms was to not just “manage” it, but to encourage me to “exceed my own expectations” and go “Beyond Limits!” They didn’t use those words. I am now using them as a branding exercise but it’s “the idea” I’m focusing on. “Everybody” is capable of exceeding their own expectations and living their life “Beyond Limits” so not only do they honour their life by doing so, they are then in a position to have a positive impact on those around them, whether in the workplace, community or even their own home.
“Better Person…Better World!” Its such a simple concept. And everyone can do it! It’s a choice!
I was inspired to write this while on vacation on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai last week. While there is an abundance of a wonderful population who live there, two people created a “Beyond Limits” moment for my wife, Darlene and I. We were on the Island for two weeks and the first week we welcomed a couple we love from Barrie, Ontario, Richard and Melvina, to stay with us for a few days. Obviously, one can’t change the weather but you always hope for the perfect kind while on a sun vacation. Selfishly, as we were thinking of our guests on Kauai for the first time, we were disappointed it was pretty cloudy and rainy. But our friends are extremely laid back so instead of a beach, we went to the Kauai Coffee Plantation, a very famous part of Kauai. The idea of going to a plantation, let alone a tour with a guide, for me did not inspire excitement in my soul…sorry. But I also embrace the core meaning of “It Is What It Is”. Surprisingly, Richard and Melvina loved it! Not only do they love coffee, but Richard in particular is very cerebral and loves to know how stuff works. None of us has ever been to coffee plantation so we embraced the moment.
There were about twenty of us and the tour guide was young woman from Kauai who introduced herself as Chelsey. She defined the “Kauian” mojo. She was pretty easy going and soft spoken but also clearly loved coffee. She also seemed to know everything about it and it wasn’t “rehearsed”. As we followed her through the plantation, Chelsey showed us where the coffee seeds begin, to every level of development and growth to the final process of preparing the beans for packaging and roasting. Someone, probably Richard, asked her about her background. Without any hint of bragging, Chelsey told us how she grew up on the Island of Kauai in a very typical humble home. Chelsey explained how her family was quite poor so to help make ends meet, and living very close to the plantation, when she was sixteen years old, she got a part time job working in the plantation gift shop, which is a very nice one, by the way. After graduating from high school, instead of going to college, which her family couldn’t afford and as she joked, “I didn’t exactly have the marks for a scholarship”; she was hired full time by Kauai Coffee. She immersed herself in the job and soon found herself being promoted to gift shop manager and observing her loyalty, Kauai Coffee agreed to accepting her as an apprentice coffer roaster. She excelled at that and then Chelsey, with obvious pride in her accomplishment, announced to all of us she is now a “Certified Roast Master” at 23 years old. I loved the look on her face when she added…”And the only female coffee master in Hawaii!” Honestly, I turned to Darlene and said…”Now that’s going Beyond Limits!” Isn’t it?
Then on Saturday, our last day on vacation, we had to check out of our Villa by 10:00 in the morning and our flight home wasn’t scheduled until 11:30 at night. Not the best scenario but we were still on Kauai for the day. We stay at the Westin Princeville Villas (shameless shout-out) and we arranged a hospitality suite for 7:00 in the evening to shower and change for the long trip back to Calgary. Much to our surprise, when we entered the room, it was a mess. There was trash and empty bottles and glasses on the Kitchen table and the washroom was strewn with towels on the floor and used soap and shampoo in the shower. Obviously this was annoying, both from a sanitary point of view but also from the Human point of view. Who were these slobs in here before us? So I phoned the front desk and they apologized and promised to send someone from Housekeeping. Honestly, it was starting to take a while and though not urgent, we still had to retrieve our stored luggage, load up the rental vehicle, return it and check in at the airport. Just when the control freak in me was starting to stir, a very small statured young lady appeared in the doorway. She wasn’t wearing a Houskeeping uniform as all the housekeepers at the Villas wear. She was actually wearing a uniform of a security guard without any badges, etc. I welcomed her and commented she looked like a security guard. She replied, “I am. But right now, I’m a Housekeeper…we are short staffed this time of night!” She assessed the mess, apologized and told us she’d be right back. She returned with a housekeeping cart. We let her do her thing and frankly, all Darlene and I were “expecting” was for her to pick up the soiled towels, remove the used soap and shampoo containers and be on her way. Well she did what we expected and then she came in with a mop like device sanitizing the shower floor and walls, the washroom floor and counters and then she brought in a vacuum to clean the entire washroom area. She was about to attack the messy kitchen when we told her, not necessary. Our exact words…”Honestly, all we expected was for you to dispose of the towels and replace them and the soaps. You went way beyond our expectations!” She replied…”That’s what I Do!” When we gave her a small tip, she looked shocked!
We never got her name but she and Coffee Master, Chelsey, were and are living examples of “Beyond Limits” and what happens when you “Raise The Bar To Achieve The Impossible!” It’s not Marketing Hype. It’s not clever writing. It Is The Real Deal. It’s also the answer to “Why Should A Corporate Client Hire Me!”. I am also “The Real Deal” and simply want to encourage the people who make companies, associations and communities run to make a promise to themselves to focus on being better. “Better People…Better World!”