Sean Stephenson, like no other, has the power to express what it means to "be yourself" by shaking you awake from any dream of self-pity that is standing in your way. If there were such a thing as having a right to that insecure mindset, Sean could own it. But Sean couldn't be further from that disempowering way of being.
In this TEDx talk at Ironwood State Prison, Sean shares three life lessons at the core of this truth - we are both the actors and authors of our lives. We write the script. We live the play. We create it all. And it's up to us to direct our life, to make the very best of all we have to give from where we are, being uniquely who we are.
Lesson #1 Never believe a prediction that doesn't empower you
"When I was born, the doctors told my parents that I would be dead within the first 24 hours of my life... If you believe predictions that do not empower you, you will wither away and die, either physically die or your spirit will die... I have a belief that has served me in my life, and that is that everyone is rooting for me to win, even those that do not know it. If somebody pities me, they're wasting their time... because I have chosen a life of strength... The moment you feel sorry for another person, or the moment you feel sorry for yourself, you're hosed. You're totally, completely frozen in potential. You must only listen to that which empowers you."
Lesson #2 You are not your condition
"I am not disabled... the only disability is one's refusal to adapt. You have to adapt to whatever environment you're in. And what does adaption look like? I think it looks like celebration. Because when you meet people that are celebrating their life, you want to be around them, you want to learn from them, you want to do business with them, you want to hire them. Because if I believe that I am disabled, I would wither up, I would be shy, I would be insecure, I would be afraid, I would act like I need your help. And the rest of humanity would be OK with that, but I choose something else, I choose to be strong, I choose to be a leader, I choose to have words to move this planet. I'll tell you why I was born. And I hope it inspires you to find out why you were born. I was born to rid this world of insecurity. Because when a human being is insecure, they do stupid stuff. When we feel like we're not enough, we chase external validation, and external objects to try to tell us we're enough. You are enough."
Lesson #3 The only prison is in your mind
"I've met so many people that are so extremely successful and famous that are in "prison" because they're stuck in their minds, bullying themselves, pitying themselves. True freedom is dropping down out of that mind... drop into your hearts. What is it doing? It's sending emotional possibilities, infinite possibilities of choice in our behavior, in our life, in our attitude. When you love yourself, whether you're sleeping on a prison cot, or in a mansion, whether you have food in your belly, or you don't know when your next meal is coming, when you love yourself, when you learn to master your emotions, then and only then are you free."