So I started to write about the two characteristics of self-actualized people but had to stop. There is something more important that needs to be written first.
The conference that I attended was called "I Can Do It" and Dr. Wayne Dyer was the keynote speaker. He spoke for three hours, almost without break and had two guests on, one his daughter Skye who sang two beautiful songs and the second a young man named Dan Caro.
Dr. Dyer introduced Dan towards the end of the show as he was zeroing in on his points about excuses and how we need to get rid of them to reach our goals. Dan was introduced and came on stage to speak.
Dan Caro is a world class drummer. He is from New Orleans and has a wonderful speaking voice with the soft lilt of Louisiana. He spoke of the adversity in his life and how he overcame it to become a world class drummer.
Dr. Dyer has faced his own adversity, having spent the better part of his first ten years in foster home and orphanages but Dan Caro had adversity of a different sort. When he was two years old he was burned over 80% of his body in an explosion in the family garage. He spent the better part of his young life in the hospital being treated for the severe burns, he lost both of his hands and most of this feet. His face had to be completely reconstructed with skin off the areas that weren't burned and they were few. He has had 84 surgeries to correct the damage done on that awful day.
If you are like me, the very thought of this brings a welling of emotion that is indescribable, you just want to take the two year old baby that he was and fix it all for him, take away the pain of a the burns, remove the cruel words launched at him by the other children who called him monster and freak, and fix it all. We can put ourselves in the position of the mother or father who had to see their beautiful child go through this, I can only imagine the surface of their pain and that's enough to make me weep.
But then there's Dan. See, the thing is, you can't feel sorry for Dan. His presence, his humour, his abilities immediately take away your sadness for him. It took him seven years to learn to tie his shoes but his focus is not on the seven years but that he learned to tie his shoes! The victory is his message and that if he can, by being persistent and obstinate, overcome that, then surely the rest of us can overcome the little obstacles in our paths, obstacles that we often place there ourselves so that we have an excuse not to do what we want to be doing because we are afraid we'll fail.
After the young Dan Caro learns to tie his shoes, he jokes, the next obvious thing he has to do is learn to play the drums. And boy does he ever. He ends his talk with a drum solo that had 2500 people on their feet clapping! It was absolutely brilliant and completely inspiring.
He attended Loyola University on a music scholarship playing with the prestigious Loyola Orchestra. Now he has a book deal, a biography, he plays drums for many great performers, is touring as a motivational speaker with Dr. Dyer and lives a full and productive life.
And it could have so easily gone the other way. He could have picked up the sting of bitterness that he must have felt at some point in his life, he could have picked up the excuses many of us use daily and no one would have argued if he'd stayed at home and done nothing but wallowed for all of these 27 years since he was burned. But he didn't and the indomitable spirit that is Dan Caro is instead a gift to the rest of us to illustrate how much we all can do and how much we all can overcome.
If you are looking for an example in your life, if you are looking for a hero, turn off the television set, set down your books and look no further, I've found you one. And if you are still using the lame excuses we all use for not doing the things we want to do in life, let them go because if Dan Caro can't find excuses, there really aren't any!
When his book comes out in 2010 I'll post a link here. I believe he's calling it "No Hand Dan". Sometimes we need to look at true adversity and see how its been overcome to put our own situations in perspective. Seven years to learn to tie his shoelaces and many of us give up on things after only trying once. And he learned to tie them with no hands. He plays drums with no hands.
The only reason Dan can do any of those things is because he knew he could. And then he persisted until he did. I think that's all we need, a knowing and a doing. That's it.
So if there is something you want to do, just think you can and then start taking the steps and whenever you encounter an obstacle, think of Dan. And if your obstacle is bigger than his, maybe give up but if it isn't then there is your sign, yes you can do it, just keep trying.
He has a video story on his website and he calls it Without Limits. I don't believe you can watch that video and not end up with the understanding that all you want can be achieved if you believe it can be so.
Video of Dan