I watched another Ted Talk this week which left me feeling grateful, yet again. This time, grateful for my vision – one of our senses that we take for granted.
What would you do if you were blind? Would you be able to cope? It’s hard to predict how you would deal with the disability, isn’t it?
I was astonished to learn that this Irish blind woman that hosted the talk, Caroline Casey, had been legally blind since birth and her parents made the conscious decision not to tell her. At three and a half years old, they decided they were not going to send her to any special needs schools. She did not find out until she was 17 years old that she was visually impaired when she went to apply for her drivers license. Can you imagine?
What I love about this inspiring story is that it is based on BELIEF. Casey’s parents told her she could see. This forced her to learn how to survive and to be tough through experience. It gave her the ability to BELIEVE that she could do anything. Casey’s parents bred her with the determination to succeed.
I think it’s amazing what people with disabilities have achieved. You have the blind climbing Mount Everest, like Erik Weihenmayer from the United States, the first blind man to reach the summit in 2001.
Casey explained that she didn’t want to be weak or a failure. She admitted that operating in a world where you can’t see is difficult. When she found out she was blind, she felt lost and lost her sense of self. She worked in many different professions and was fighting so hard not to be herself.
I believe it’s so important to surround yourself with people that support you and love and respect you for who you are. We need to be around people who makes us feel good, people that bring out the best in us.
Casey learned through her struggle with vision, to give up her fight and accept herself as she is. She decided she was going to travel across India on an elephant and nothing was going to get in her way.
She says, “When you make a decision at the right time and right place, the universe makes it happen for you.”
When she eventually gave up the fight and surrendered to the fact that she couldn’t see, she rode an elephant 1000 kilometres across India on her own to raise funds for Sight Saver in the year 2000.
So, how do we find belief?
We convince ourselves that anything is possible. You almost have to make yourself feel that you have already done it. You have to truly believe from the bottom of you heart that you can make change happen. The power of self belief gives us extraordinary potential.
If you want to be dancer on cruise ships, you have to believe it. If you want to climb Everest, you have to believe it. In Casey’s case, she needed to go on her journey across India to find the confidence and belief in herself.
“I never needed eyes to see — never. I simply needed vision and belief.”
Casey says we must be the very best of ourselves, that nobody should be invisible and there should be no belittling with labels.
“Stop with the labels … because we are not jam jars; we are extraordinary, different, wonderful people.”
Casey’s journey gave her the belief to change the world and she did it. She changed the way society views people with disabilities. She developed a set of best practises for business that enable them to see ‘disabled’ workers as asset rather than a liability. Hundreds of companies have adopted these standards.
Casey also founded the O2 Ability Awards that recognise Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities in 2004. Spain later adopted a similar program in 2010.
The Irish Times said, “She is one of those people who, instead of just talking about changing the world, gets up and actually does it however tough the doing of it turns out to be.”
Casey’s ted talk is called Looking past limits and you can find it here