I would like to share the story of another inspiring young person who attended a conference I spoke at two years ago. She recently sent me an email to let me know what’s going on in her life. Stories like hers are the reason I’m so energized when I get up in front of an audience to share my message of resilience and redemption.
When I first met her, she was seventeen years old and already had a four year-old daughter. After waiting thirty minutes in line to meet me after my keynote speech, she was already crying and ready to share her story. She slowly approached me and said through her tears, “I know I can be somebody because you are somebody.” It was clear she needed a hug, so I held her in my arms and asked, “What’s going on?” I knew the story I was about to hear would break my heart.
Gathering herself together, she told me how she’d grown up in a home torn apart by drugs. It was a crack house, a place where anybody could stop by to get high. Not only did her mother not protect her daughter, but actually started prostituting her out at twelve years old. After a year of this hell, the girl became pregnant at thirteen. She had no idea who the father was, except that it was one of her johns. Thankfully, a state worker caught wind of what was going on and she was taken from this home and placed in foster care. Despite the miserable circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, she decided to keep her baby.
I had the pleasure of meeting her foster parents and getting to thank them personally for rescuing this sweet girl and her daughter from such a horrible environment. As far as I’m concerned, these people are saints. Fostering one child is a huge responsibility, but taking in a child who herself has a child is really going above and beyond.
After we had discussed her past for a while, we began to discuss her future. “What is your dream job?” I asked her. “What do you want to be in life?” Without a moment’s hesitation, she told me she wanted to be a psychologist, having always been curious about how the human mind worked. I looked into her eyes and told her to never give up on that dream – NEVER! I told her to focus on where she was going instead of where she’d been, and to never lose direction in life. I told her to envision herself succeeding at her goal, and it would be the fire in her belly that kept her on the path.
Believe me, I was crying right along with her during our conversation. I’m the inspirational speaker, but with each event I perform at I am inspired in equal measure. To see a young girl rise above her terrible past and have the fire within to go after her dreams reminded me why I do this. I am very proud to report that she has just finished her first year of college. Good for her! She is well on her way to creating her own destiny and becoming everything she was meant to be. It would have been easy for her to quit, and use her terrible past as an excuse for failure: but she has persevered. When life knocked her down, she found the strength to get back up on her feet and keep fighting.
When life knocks you down, you can either be a trier or a crier. The way you respond to challenges determines the level of success you have in life. Our yesterdays do not have to define who we are today.
To share my message of hope, I use music in my keynotes and presentations. It’s a wonderful tool for opening the hearts of an audience. I have received thousands of comments saying my presentations are an experience like no other. I am not there to deliver a run-of-the-mill speech. I like to think of myself as a hybrid speaker, using music while sharing my life’s journey in order to help the spirit of the listener soar. It’s always amazing to know I’ve connected with another person on a very deep level.
I use music in my keynotes and presentations as a tool to open up the hearts of the audience. If you know of a conference planner or an organization that needs inspiration from Derek’s Training, please share www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com with them.
Never Give Up!
P.S. Are you aware of my inspiring youth program “System of Hope”? This program helps youth communicate their struggles and find solutions for success through a creative outlet that has helped me personally. Find out more at www.HelpingOnePersonEveryday.com