Ten days ago, I asked for your help in choosing the speaker of the 100th quote for public speakers on this blog. The results are in and the response was great: over 300 votes on four questions to help narrow down the search. Thank you to all who voted.
You can see the results by clicking on the link above. In the end, a significant majority asked for a motivational quote from a living female with English mother tongue. When I saw the results, one person immediately came to mind.
Janine Shepherd is a champion athlete, pilot, author, mother and motivational speaker who hails from Australia. But that hardly tells her story. The following brief biography is taken from her website:
Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a hollywood movie. A champion cross country skier in training for the Winter Olympics, her life was irrevocably altered when she was run over by a truck during a training bicycle ride to the Blue Mountains.
Her neck and back were broken in six places, and her right arm, collarbone and five ribs fractured. Her right leg had been ripped open, she had sustained head injuries and massive internal injuries. She had severe lacerations to her abdominal area and had lost five litres of blood. The bleeding alone was enough to kill her.
Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her ordeal. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again.
Coming to terms with her shattered Olympic dreams, refusing to believe what expert medical staff were telling her about her chances of any kind of recovery, Janine focused every sinew of her being on healing her broken body and crushed morale.
Her fighting spirit was rekindled watching small planes flying overhead. She made a decision: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” And fly she did. While still covered in a full body plaster cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. That moment changed her life forever.
Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Despite remaining a partial paraplegic and with many physical challenges still ahead, she battled on to gain her commercial pilots licence, her Instrument rating, her twin engine rating, and her Instructor’s rating. She then went on to become a fully qualified aerobatics instructor.
And all the while she pushed her body to mend itself, forced her legs to walk again, step by painful step. Although doctors said she would never have children, Janine says her greatest achievement is the three young children she now has. She has since gone on to finish her University degree in Physical Education.
Janine’s story of defying the odds and winning is both moving and inspiring. The title of her bestselling book, “Never Tell Me Never,” says it all. Janine has since written two more books, “Dare to Fly”, which was prompted by overwhelming public reaction to her first book, and “Reaching for Stars”.
Janine’s autobiographies have become classics in the survivor genre and have been best-sellers. Janine’s life story has been recently made into a feature film, also entitled “Never Tell Me Never”, starring well known Australian actress Claudia Karvan, and tells of her journey to hell and back.
Today, Janine is much in demand as one of Australia’s most sought after motivational speakers. She travels extensively in Australia and overseas sharing her story with others.
Janine has inspired countless people with her courage and indomitable spirit. Said Deepak Chopra, “She has an extraordinary ability to ignite people’s spirits and move them to find the real potential of their lives; her story inspires people around the world.”
I first “met” Janine on Twitter. We have since kept in touch via different social media fora. She is warm and engaging, and never fails to respond to a message.
When it comes to public speaking, Janine’s focus is 100% on her audience, just as it should be for every speaker. About her speaking career she said:
“I feel so fortunate and privileged to hear from people who have heard me speak. I have many letters from participants telling me how they have come away from the talk, thought deeply, and actually transformed aspects of how they live. People have made changes to their jobs, travelled, studied, learned to fly, or simply decided to behave differently in their significant relationships with those around them. That makes me so happy, so proud. It’s the reason I speak and write. I know that every single person has the strength and the spirit within to do what I have done, I truly believe that.”
And so, it is with great pleasure that I present the 100th quote for public speakers. It is a very simple, very colloquial quote with a distinct Aussie ring to it. But it is terribly important. It’s about trying things and having faith in yourself.
Speaking in public can be daunting. So much can go wrong. But if we never try—if we never have a go—we’ll never know just how much of an impact we can have on the lives of others. Thanks for the reminder, Janine.