I have been blessed in my life. From the time I was very young till now, I have been taught the value of working hard. We had a huge garden when I was growing up that required a lot of weeding and we had “chores” every day. When I turned 16, I had a job working part-time at a movie theater. I was taught how important it was to be on time, to give 100% while at work. It paid off.
We were involved with sports, so there wasn’t a lot of idle time. And 20 years ago, there certainly wasn’t any of the internet games, game boys, etc. And all our friends were in the same boat as we were. Our parents kept us involved during the entire year, whether it was sports or work.
After I got married, I started my own landscaping business. I put in a lot of hours and it was very successful.
After my accident, I was told by some good friends that they thought I could make a living as a motivational speaker, of which I truly was a novice. I knew nothing about speaking to companies, trying to motivate and inspire them.
What I did know is that I needed to make a living to provide for my family. So I joined an organization, The National Speakers Association. I met several speakers who I learned so much from, and then I had the pleasure of spending some time with Art Berg, who was a motivational speaker.
My dad had actually heard him speak at an insurance convention just a few weeks before my accident. Art Beg was a quadriplegic. My dad was so impressed with him that he called me right after he heard him speak and said I really needed to hear this man. My dad bought his book. Little did he know that a few weeks later, his son would become a quadriplegic.
While in the hospital, I was having a few bad days and my dad called Art and asked him to come see me. He did. He wheeled in my room one day and spent some time with me. We had so much in common. Much like myself, he became a quad due to an accident. Now he was traveling, speaking to companies, making a living and supporting his family. He invited Shondell and myself to go to Hawaii with him and his wife, where he was speaking for a company.
As I watched him, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. A few days later, he died. I was devastated, but a much better man for knowing him. He spoke with a sense of self confidence that I envied, yet admired. I have continued to follow the examples and learn from many great men and women in this organization and it has helped with my success. It has made me who I am today.
Choose carefully your mentors. You will be a better person because of it.