A few weeks ago I was approached by Guiseley High School here in Awesome Leeds!! to attend their NRA Presentation for their Yr11's as their guest speaker. My theme for the talk was this - 'There is no shortcut to success - hard work pays.'
So I researched, contemplated, and regurgitated all that I had learnt over the past few decades into a talk that focused on the one thing that irks all teachers and excited all students - Instant Success!!
You know what I mean right, the X-Factor Effect, the 'I'm so talented right now that I don't need to work on my studies, my skills, my talents, because riches and fame are all going to come my way without me even lifting a finger.'
Uh-huh . . .
cause that is SO NOT the way that it works peeps!! Naha, never, not in a million years . . . sorry to seem all 'doom and gloom,' (I like using the term doom and gloom . . . I used it in my talk at Guiseley . . . it's all hell and brimstone, pessimistic, depressing, and ever so slightly attention grabbing).
But, here's the thing . . . it really isn't all doom and gloom . . .
If there is one thing life has taught me is that there is always hope . . . and I don't mean hope in any airy-fairy way, or religious way, or condescending way, nope, I mean hope in the optimistic sense of 'hard work pays.'
Even if the world seems against you, if you remain optimistic, driven, and open to possibility then the rewards will come = this is hope.
Instant success isn't about hope or hard work or even optimism, because it is fleeting. If someone does appear to be "suffering" instant success, then they really haven't really grasped the meaning of what true success is. Success is not really success if there has been no battle fought for it. But when I say battle I don't mean a war, or a fight, or an argument, nope, I mean bringing heart, passion, and NEED! You succeed when you need more then you fight, when you need more than you doubt, when you need more than you stumble.
Think of the battle as the journey to the your goal . . . When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed Everest, they battled to the top . . . but the journey was as important as the end goal, and it was their Passion, their Need that got them through that journey, to the top of that mountain, to freedom!
Freedom of the soul, of the mind, of purpose and desire.
Do you know your goal? Do you know your journey? Do you know how to enjoy the journey? Do you know how to enjoy the learning, the growing, the expansion that the journey can bring?
The journey is the purpose, the goal the reward, so go forth with purpose, prepare to grow exponentially, and succeed.
Hey Peeps, how have you been? I am uber excited, because here is my second interview with 'WOMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE.' This interview is with Elle Steele, a retired Paralympian who is now giving back to the people who supported her by supporting and cheering for them!! Is Elle Extraordinary?? I do believe so!!
Describe your personal situation and your business . . .
I was born with a muscle and joint condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congentia. I also have club feet and a hand abnormality. I use a wheelchair for mobility. I live with my parents after living out of home for about 6 years; I am looking to move out again into my own place when the time is right! I have my own car and am very independent.
My business Create Believe Achieve is a collective of wholistic practitioners inspiring individuals to take control of their lives.
We believe that each and every one of us has something unique to offer the world not matter what has happened in the past, what is happening now, or what will happen in the future. Our services are coaching, counselling, energy healing, meditation and raindrop therapy.
I also work with organisations that support people with disabilities through my program Wheels of Power. We look at all areas of one’s life to see where they believe it’s not working and coach them to optimum results.
What motivated you to start your business?
I want to be able to give back to people that have done so much for me. By having a successful business I am able to create opportunities for kids with disabilities in underdeveloped countries with equipment eg: wheelchair, canes. It also means I can have flexible working hours while serving as many people as possible to achieve their dreams. This is better for me physically and more sustainable.
How do you balance your personal needs with your business/work?
I make sure that I make time for myself and my health. I go to the gym 2-3 times a week and work on my strength. I also having a coach, attend meditation classes and have regular energy healings. I have such a wonderful support team around me and we are always looking out for each other.
I have allocated days and times that I work on my business and I only answer personal calls after 5:30pm, unless I have arranged to speak with a client at that time.
The beauty of having your own business means you are so passionate, none of my work really feels like work!
What is the toughest thing you have had to deal with in life/business and what got you through?
Last year I was meant to have one huge surgery on my ankle (triple fusion) so that I could walk again. I had been completely wheelchair bound for about 2 years and was in constant pain. I went into hospital in January 2012. The surgery went well, I was in plaster for 8 weeks and it was a clean surgery. When I got the plaster off, the wound still wasn’t closed. So, two weeks later I was back in the hospital having corrective surgery to close the wound, another 3 weeks off work and then one day Mum came over to look and clean the wound for me. Much to my dismay, it was now infected, the next week I was in hospital again to have all the ‘metal’ removed from ankle as my body was rejecting it. After 16 weeks off work and LOTS of TV series I went to my surgeon and my wound was closed. This was so hard because while I was sick, it didn’t only affect me, my whole family was affected. My relationship then suffered with us separating a few months after I was fully recovered.
The only thing that kept me going through this whole period was a strong sense of character, positive thinking and my support network. I had begun my coaching Diploma and was studying at the same time. I learnt that, I am in control of my life on all levels, I can choose to be reactive or proactive with how I want to feel about a situation and this belief ultimately got me through.
What is the most “WHAM BAM” exciting thing in life/business that has happened and how did you celebrate?
The most exciting that has happened to me was when I attended Tony Robbin’s Unleash the Power Within event at the Sydney Olympic Park. It was a very special time for me, because I got to see the venue where I spent the biggest two weeks of my life at the Sydney Paralympic Games. On the first night of Unleash the Power Within, you are challenged to walk on hot coals (about 2000 degrees!). I was thinking, nah, I probably shouldn’t do it. This time last year, I was in hospital and couldn’t walk’ but, I then decided that nothing can stop me, I can overcome anything in my life. So, I did. Assisted by some of the most exceptional coaches on Tony’s team, I walked on fire and didn’t get burnt.
There is no excuses now – you really can achieve anything you put your mind too.
Which business/person has inspired you and why?
I have been inspired by many; Louise Hay – for her positive outlook on life and for her book, ‘You can Heal your Life’. This book changed everything for me during one of the darkest times of my life and for that I am truly grateful! My dear friend Libby Hanson; for teaching me so much about energy healing and being a loving, power woman. My Family, Mum, Dad, Meg and Bridge for ALWAYS being there no matter what, you rarely meet such a wonderful, inspiring group of people all from under one roof!
Do you have any life/business tips you could give my readers?
Document everything and when you think you’re tired and can’t work anymore, keep going. Did you know that the greatest plastic surgeons in the world only ever change anything by 2mm? So, that means, you are only 2mm away from perfection. You can achieve your greatest dreams, if you believe you can.
Anything else you would like to add?
All the best with this Liz! And thanks for thinking of me!
(ME: Anytime Elle, you are a star and an inspiration and I remember so fondly our time together on the Aussie swim team! xo)
Body image is certainly a HUGE issue in the world today, and certainly one that can plague a teen's thoughts. I understand, I do, as a teen I had some body image issues that, on reflection, drove me to attempt "pass." 'Passing" as an amputee means wearing prosthetics and clothes that hide the fact that limbs are missing - I would wear trousers and jeans, even in the height of an Australian summer, purely to hide the fact that I had a leg missing. I never bothered too much with trying to hide my arm, it was always going to be the harder part of my body to "pass.' The only time that I would let others see my limb deficiency was when I was with the Australian Swim team. I trusted my fellow swimmers to accept me, purely because I knew they were as different as I. My teen years, my school years, they were an amalgamation of a strange pride and faltering loathing of my body, because as an athlete I had killer abs, rippling muscles, HUGE biceps and was a size ten, yet I also had the 'social shame' of being different, my missing limbs casting me in the light of pity and shame.
So I get it . . . I do!
That strange rolling feeling in the pit of your stomach,, the critical glance in the mirror, and the 'hiding' of the body parts that don't meet YOUR approval. BUT, I was fortunate in that the Paralympics taught me so much about self confidence, emotional strength, my ability to succeed, my uniqueness, and self belief, that I could see where and why my body image issues lay and how to tackle them.
Now, I know your saying, 'Elizabeth, that's great and all, but not everyone has the advantage of being able to compete in the Olympics/Paralympics, or have anything remotely that HUGE happening in their lives, I'm just your average teenager living in your average city, going to your average school and achieving average success.' I know, I know, I have had some amazing opportunities come my way and I understand that not everyone has the opportunity present itself to be an Olympian, but I do believe that we all can learn from the lives that we are living and we can also be successful in everything that we do, if we believe that we can AND we see the positive, even in the bad. Now, people still see disability as being a bad thing, as something that is to be pitied and mourned, but it's not, at all, it is the complete opposite in fact. You see, difference is really the best part of being alive and being a human being! Difference makes this world interesting and also helps to drive forward the human race, because as a being we have the ability to see, experience, process, and articulate our experiences, and hence contribute to the knowledge of life.
'My missing limbs shouldn't be hidden, shouldn't be 'passed' into ablebodiedness because of fear and shame, my body should be celebrated in all of it's uniqueness, in all it's difference, because my body has given me the gift of life and has given me the vision to 'see' that we are all unique and we are all special and all have so much to give.'
So, are you ready to celebrate your differences? Cause you really are so lucky to have the body you have, and when you realise this you can see that what society expects you to look like is nothing more than a carbon copy of the so-called 'ideal body,' which in western countries subscribes to the 'skinny is best' model. Here's the rub though,, skinny is best, as is curvy, lean, muscly, squishy, tall, short, fair, dark, freckled, missing limbed and all. Whatever your body shape is, it is absolutely fantastic, and as long a you acknowledge this, your body image, self esteem, and confidence will remain positive and assured. Then, you can focus on what is important about your body . . .
. . . that is keeping it healthy, functioning to the best of it's ability, and keeping curious, pushing you out into a magnificent world of sights, smells, sounds, and touch. When your body image is good and hence, your self esteem high, you can realistically assess what life you would like to have - or, see what you are good at and cultivate success in a meaningful and fulfilling way.
It is all about YOUR ATTITUDE really!! Are you an optimist or pessimist? Or do you subscribe to realism? (AND no, being a realist is not seeing the bad and negative as truth, being a realist is being able to acknowledge and accept that we cannot control anything but our thoughts and feelings to events . . .). Me? I choose to be a realist - I have a disability, yes, I am not rich, true, I am not a size 0, very comfortable with that, I am a Paralympic Medalist, I have awesome parents, and I get to live in the UK (to me living in the UK is a good thing!!). I accept all these things as a part of me, and therefore they are neither good nor bad, they just are part of what makes me ME. I chose to keep a positive attitude towards my body, what do you chose?
So, how can YOU develop and maintain a healthy body image and cracking self esteem?
1. Accept your body is your body and that you are damn lucky to have it!!!
2. Aim for being healthy and fit . . . not ill, this means feeding your body with nutritious food, exercising to make your body strong, and learning to chill out - stress is bad!!
3. Cultivate positive maxims (Maxims are a ground rule that can motivate you to certain behaviours and thoughts) to counter negativity. Here are some maxims -
“Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup; it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.”
“Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.”
“Everybody has a part of her body that she doesn’t like, but I’ve stopped complaining about mine because I don’t want to critique nature’s handiwork … My job is simply to allow the light to shine out of the masterpiece.”
“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.”
I've talked before about the gratitude I have for my body - you can read that blog post here. Today it came up again in discussion with my flatmate, based on this DOVE advert - DOVE Real Beauty Sketches. You see, I am such a believer in seeing our own inner and OUTER beauty, as well as everyone else's, so I often regard myself with a kind eye and can sometimes come across as . . . dare I say it . . . VAIN. Yes, vain - SHOCK HORROR!! I like "ME", and admit to myself when I am "lookin' goooooood.' This approach to my appearance has cultivated a rather healthy self esteem, but also an appreciation of other peoples 'beauty' - both inner and outer. We are all beautiful, we just have to have the confidence to see it in ourselves, and not just others.
So, I am going to start a POSITIVE CAMPAIGN OF BEAUTY . . . to start I am going to list the things I love about my inner and outer beauty . . . and then, guess what?!? I want you to do the same for yourself. Okay? So here we go . . .
INNER BEAUTY OF ELIZABETH WRIGHT
OUTER BEAUTY OF ELIZABETH WRIGHT
my Auntie's nose
(okay, a little pg13 there, but hey, I am proud of my boobies, LOL)
my Nan's eyebrows
Okay, whew, 8 things for each . . . now it's your turn, can you beat my current 8? Can see at least 8 things that are beautiful about YOU?!? Go on, go break open the pens and paper and get writing! Remember that you can write anything, as long as it is something about you that you see as beautiful. I know it can be hard, but it's all there, you really just have to look carefully and push aside the negative thoughts that will try to intrude. Okay? Off you go then . . . please come back and comment with your results, lot's of love here and celebration of how wonderful we all are!!
As a swimmer, every race that I swam became a challenge, a chance to push myself beyond what I had achieved before. It wasn't so much about pushing boundaries, but bettering yourself little by little within discipline. To shave a millisecond off your best time was a thing to celebrate!! I took this approach of improving into university studies - I went from getting acceptable passes and credits in my first year to gaining 1st Class Honours in my final year and topping the class. My uni years weren't all "slack off for three years and only work for one," they were a gradual build up of skill and confidence through challenges, until I knew that I was the best I could be, in that moment, in academia.
(image courtesy of Jessica - talented flatmate)
I am now applying the same to my speaking. I like to think I am a great speaker now, but even a great speaker can get better (ask any professional speaker and they will say they are continually looking at where to improve). So each speech, talk, presentation, workshop that I do I dissect afterwards, look at what went well and what could have been done better . . . but the best way to improve, I think, is to challenge yourself.
Challenge: 1. A call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength:
he accepted the challenge
- a task or situation that tests someone's abilities: he took up the challenge to organise a sports day.
(Oxford Dictionary Online)
Now, when I talk about challenging myself as a speaker, I don't go into a boxing ring and try to "out-speak" my speaking opponent (though that would be funny to see)
No, a challenge to oneself is to 'test your abilities.' Simple, easy-peasy, fantastic!!!! Sort of . . . to challenge oneself against ones very own standard can be tough, it can be easier to just 'throw in the towel' and give up as opposed to when you are competing against someone else. BUT that is the challenge in itself - how much do YOU want to improve? How much better do YOU want to get? Do YOU want to be the BEST that YOU can be?
I had my own challenges last week. Firstly I spoke at an event called Bettakultcha. Bettakultcha is where a group of people come together to speak about things they are passionate about . . . the catch? You have to use twenty slide (i.e., powerpoint) and only have 5 minutes to speak. ME SPEAK IN ONLY 5 MINUTES!!!! You have got to be joking!! Challenge to self 'be able to make a point in a very short amount of time.' Tough? VERY TOUGH! I did it, and I got praise for it . . . but it was my first time at this challenge and I know I can improve. So guess what? I am going to apply to do it again! No giving up here, no way!
My second challenge was radio. I was invited to be interviewed for 'One on One with Martin Kelner.' I have been on radio before, but not for an hour or for a one on one interview (and my favourite songs being played, YAY!!!). I admit, I was nervous, I wasn't sure what to expect, but Martin was a wonderful interviewer, and guess what? I had the time of my life!! Sometimes challenges can be one of the best things that you have ever done . . . I mean now I am considering a radio career, I had so much fun!!!! (Joking, joking, I love being face-to-face with my audience too much).
What have you done lately to challenge yourself? To grow and expand? To thrive and bask in the sunshine of opportunity and fun? Do you need to challenge yourself more often? I know I do and plan to. Don't be afraid of challenges, just remember, whether you succeed or fail, that you can learn and become better for the experience - that's what life is about peeps!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright