As the new year approaches, experience tells me that many people, especially resilient people with disabilities, get inspired to expand our horizons by expanding our abilities. Whether disabled or not, we can begin every day like it’s the beginning of a new and exciting project.
Three qualities that help me maintain a positive and growth oriented focus are: (Actually this may be five qualities, depending on your perspective.)
- Be accountable, responsible and helpful.
- Be willing to get up one more time than we fall down.
- Be focused on what we have instead of what we don’t have.
From the day I woke from a month long coma following the motorcycle crash that left me with a traumatic brain injury TBI and a half paralyzed body, I needed to be inspired, but I didn’t realize it. I was so overcome with fear, depression and anger that it took a year or two to realize that inspiration is what I craved.
When I stumbled across some books by such authors as Norman Vincent Peale and Maxwell Maltz, I knew I’d found what I needed. Those books and other inspiring books quickly turned my life on the rehabilitation trail into a series of consciously chosen goals. Goals that continued with the basics like walking and talking and driving, but that also included many other goals.
My vocal chords fused themselves together during my coma, so at first I communicated by pointing out letters on an alphabet board. For well over a decade, one goal was to speak clearly enough to be understood without having to repeat myself.
What I thought people thought of me used to have a powerful impact on what I thought of myself. I feared that, when they first heard my speech impairment, people thought I was some kind of deranged psycho made it absolutely necessary for me to quit worrying what people thought. Worrying what people thought of me kept me from enjoying living my life. Not worrying what people thought became a survival skill.
In 1995, fifteen years after my crash, I started doing the fun, demanding, sometimes disappointing and sometimes rewarding art of standup comedy.
The goal of all the standup comics I knew was to get the audience laughing and keep them laughing, intermittently of course, throughout their routines. Being unsure, when I first started, if they were laughing at my jokes or my speech impairment kept me from relaxing and fully enjoying being on stage until I realized two things:
- A speech impairment by itself isn’t funny enough to make a comedy club audience laugh more than once.
- What a person enjoys or despises says more about themselves than it does about the thing being enjoyed or despised.
Winning the 2000 Laff-Off at Seattle’s Giggles Comedy Club sweetened my comedy career, but my career got even sweeter when audience members told me that my doing comedy inspired them to do something fear or self doubt had kept them from doing.
Huh? That’s great!
Realizing I can be a whole lot more inspiring if I don’t have to worry about making the audience laugh every thirty seconds, I switched my focus from comedy clubs to schools and corporations. My goal is to give folks specific tools they can use to believe in their own possibilities. My years doing standup comedy continuously proves itself a good investment, as everybody loves to laugh. Laughing while getting yourself inspired is a time saver.
Give the gift of an energized plan for living. To celebrate the holidays or any other event you’d like to enliven with humor, heartfelt memories and strategies for creating a lifetime of positive Attitudes contact the Attitudeman Al Foxx. During the holiday season, Al gives 10% of his speaking fee to Northwest Harvest, or a charity of your choosing.