“Am I a loser? YES I am the biggest loser ever”, he said to me with a hopeless voice and dejection in his eyes. He was almost a 27 years old chap sitting in front of me , in his whitish yellow clothes. I looked at his face and he considered that a signal to speak. He started:
“I was born in a small town which was very far from the main city and away from all the necessities of life. At the age of four, I got admission in the only school in our town. My educational progress was very slow since the beginning and I was always rated as a “below average” student who could hardly pass his examinations. Sitting on the back benches in class resulted in lack of attention from my teachers. In reality, they believed that, I was DUMB and it was pointless for them to waste their efforts on me. That label soon earned popularity within my neighborhood. Everybody started calling me DUMP. Not only that, I gradually starting believing that was what I really am, and that destroyed the slightest confidence I had left in ME.
Time passed, and soon I had to step into the practical life hoping to financially support my family. The shadows of that label never left me alone. I worked in super markets, petrol pumps and even started my own small business. But nothing remarkable ever happened. Each failure added to my frustration and strengthened my belief in being a natural looser; someone who never had a slight taste of what is called success. While I saw that my classmates and friends were far ahead of me in their lives: having handsome jobs, driving luxurious cars and living a lavish life style, I was still jobless with no saving , living in a shaggy rented cottage. I wanted things to be different. I wanted to live a successful life-like others. But I was not smart enough, I didn’t have neither the skills, nor the talent or abilities to prove myself.
I was simply that Dumb loser, who everyone used to laugh at…” the words halted in his throat and he started crying.
I offered him a glass of water, which he accepted with thanks. I remained quiet for a while allowing his emotions to settle down.
“What do you know about successes and failures in life?” I questioned him as he put aside the glass of water.
“Success means getting whatever you wanted in your life. Failure means you won’t get it”. He spontaneously replied.
I gave him a soft smile and replied: “let me tell you a short but true story which will stir up this simple understanding of yours. It is about a man who was also labeled Dumb. But he managed to change his failures into successes”.
“In 1940’s, in Florida, a kid and his twin brother were born in an abandoned building. The kid’s mother , who was too poor to raise her newly twins, gave her sons up for adoption when they were only six weeks old to a single woman who had very little education and financial capabilities.
Time passed and the kid enrolled in the nearby school. However, his early education was poor. Due to the lack of attention he has given to his school work, hyperactivity and slow learning process, his abilities and skills never impressed his teachers. Declared as an “educable mentally retarded” , he was dropped from the fifth grade to the fourth . It was a painful time for him to be addressed by his classmates and colleagues as the DUMB kid.
Personally, he never believed that he was. He knew he had skills and talent . During his lonely breaks and holidays, he would spend his time in front of a mirror or in the corner of his deserted kitchen addressing speeches to his imaginary audience of teachers and friends convincing them that he was not a failure. It was then that he realized that he had a brilliant talent which no one else could see. Speeches were the one thing where he did exceptionally well. He saw that, and instantly decided that he will work on that, so he joined an afternoon speech and drama program to improve his speaking skills. Unfortunately, his first stage appearance was a disappointment. He got nervous, lost his voice control and forgot everything which resulted in hooting and laughing by the audience. Embarrassment and sense of humiliation overcome his soul and he left the stage broken. His teacher , believing in his talent, forced him back to stage and asked him encouragingly to finish what he started. He went back with shaking steps and started again . yet his second attempt was not different from his first . The audience started laughing again, passing remarks on his voice and speech. The angelic voice came from the backstage from his teacher: “That was very good, continue.. you can do it…”; it was then that the words started coming back to him and the sounds he was uttering reminded him of his speeches in front of the mirror in the darkness of his kitchen. These encouraging words were the booster that changed his whole life. He considered it as a new beginning of his life and started participating in debates and speeches. He knew that success was not about getting things done, but it was about being able to cope with your failures and learn to BELIEVE in your abilities.
His determination and persistence helped a lot in improving his skills. He started progressing from a hip-talking morning DJ to a broadcast manager; from community activist to community leader; from political commentator to 3-term legislator; and from a banquet and nightclub emcee to premier keynote speaker. Every move, made him stronger and stronger. When the same “educable mentally retarded” child entered in the public speaking arena he changed the whole world perception of HIM. He received national awards, wrote books and marked a series of speeches. The Toastmaster International selected him as the world’s best speakers and ranked among the nation’s leading authorities in understanding and stimulating human potential. The world knows him as Les Brown.
It is a very simple story which tells us how to deal with our failures, destroy any fake label or name given to us by those who fail to see beyond the obvious, believing in ones talent and skills. We meet thousands of people in our daily life who are labeled as slow learners, dumb, lazy, ugly or stupid either by their teachers, class-mates, superiors, friends or anybody. These labels unfortunately haunt them like deadly ghosts, destroying their self esteem and confidence. Very few lucky ones, can get themselves to brush away these traits. Instead of focusing on their weakness and/or on their failures, they would uncover their strengths and unique qualities to fully develop the person they really are.
As a human being each one of us is equipped with GOD gifted qualities, talent and abilities that makes us unique. It is only up to us and our close circles to recognize these gifts and align ourselves on paths that cross with these talents. Belief and determination are the tools we all need to be equipped with, yet our gardens need not all blossom with the same flowers.
The young man raised up his head with confidence and determination in his eyes. He shook his hands confidently, and left the room to face the people and brush off his shoulders the heavy remains of an uneasy childhood. He knows, he is not a loser!!!