Dear Dare to Dream: How can I overcome illness to achieve my speaking dream?
Dear Dare to Dream,
I’m 16 and I recently bought your book True Face.
I am obsessed with it. I bought a journal to go with it and I follow all the little tasks you set. I find it incredibly helpful because for a few years now I’ve dealt with severe mental illness and confidence issues. You see, I have this disability called Marfan Syndrome. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it. But because of this I have abnormally skinny legs and arms. I also have two leaking valves in my heart that I may need surgery on soon. But basically I’m telling you all this because I have a dream of becoming a motivational speaker. And I discovered that I wanted to do this about 3 years ago. But battling depression and everything else it has been insanely hard to start. The thing is I have no idea where to start. My mind is always telling me that I’ll never get there. Or it’s a stupid dream to have. My family don’t really understand either. I mean, they live very simple lives you know? Normal jobs, children, cook, clean, sleep repeat. That sort of thing. But from a very young age I’ve always known that what they have isn’t the life I want. I dream of way more. But they sometimes belittle me because of my disability and treat me like an invalid. They say that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself or anything.
Since I’ve been reading your book I’ve felt a lot happier about myself and about being happy. I am really determined to become a speaker and I realise that I’m going to have to fight my way through the negativity. But I just don’t know how to start and I’m scared that I won’t ever be able to do it.
Ps. Thank you so much for writing a book like True Face. I hope one day that I can be an inspiration to people just like you.
Dear Inspirational Dreamer,
Thank you so much.
When I received your email I was lying on my bed crying my eyes out.
I was lying on my bed, crying my eyes out because someone close to me was very sick and I felt powerless to do anything to help them.
I also felt utterly exhausted.
Then I read your email and your words flicked a switch in my brain.
I read about your courage in the face of your illness.
I read about your subsequent struggles with mental health issues and the obstacles you encounter on a daily basis and the dreams you have in spite of all this.
And I felt humbled and inspired.
You say that you hope you can one day be an inspiration to people but you already are.
You inspired me that day and you warmed my heart with your kind words.
You made a massive difference just through the words of your email, so imagine what you could do in a motivational speech.
Sometimes, when we have big dreams, they can feel so far from our reach that we give up trying. The key is to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.
You want to inspire people with your story and your words but you don’t know where to start.
Why not start by writing a blog?
Blogs are free and easy to set up – I recommend WordPress or Blogger. Also, writing a blog would be relatively easy to fit around your health issues and can be done from the comfort of your bed (guess where I’m writing this from?!)
Writing an inspirational blog would also enable you to build an audience. Then, when you take the step into motivational speaking, people will already have heard of you and I’m sure would be dying to see you speak in the flesh.
In terms of building your confidence as a speaker, I recommend the following:
Check out Richard McCann’s website here.
Richard McCann is one of the UK’s most successful motivational speakers. He’s also an incredible example of someone who has overcome massive trauma and hardship to achieve great things. His mother was the first victim of Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’.
You can download a free presentation skills ebook on Richard’s site. He also runs fantastic training days as part of his iCan Speak Academy. I attended it a couple of years ago and it was the best speaker training I’ve ever been on.
You talk about battling feelings of depression.
One of the most effective techniques I know of for helping alleviate feelings of depression, stress and anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. If you’re not already aware of it, look it up online. There are loads of sites offering CBT exercises for free.
Another really effective technique is mindfulness.
Next time you’re feeling depressed don’t fight it.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive but it really works.
When we fight an unpleasant feeling or emotion it only intensifies.
Try sitting with the feeling.
Breathing slowly and deeply.
And really welcoming it.
It’s amazing how quickly the feeling can dissipate when we do this.
You will be able to do achieve your dream, with hope and dedication.
Any time you feel yourself slipping back into negativity and fear do something to reignite your passion for your dream.
Watch an inspirational TED talk on YouTube. Take note of the techniques the speakers use.
Start planning a talk of your own.
When your family don’t seem to understand, remind yourself that this is your life and these are your dreams.
Keep working away on those dreams.
And hopefully when they see how committed you are to making your dreams come true they will come round and support you.
Let me leave you with this quote. A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which has really inspired me in my own career:
“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Ask yourself, how can I begin making my dream a reality today?
Take that one small step.
Then another the day after.
And wait for the ‘genius, power and magic‘ to strike.
Wishing you every happiness and success.
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