Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 100) – Janine Shepherd

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.

Janine Shepherd – Australian Athlete, Pilot and Motivational Speaker 

“If you never have a go, you never, never know.” — Janine Shepherd


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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22 Responses to Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 100) – Janine Shepherd

  1. John Zimmer says:

    Thanks for the comment, Rebecca. Glad you liked the post.

  2. Pingback: Help Me Pick the 100th Quote for Public Speakers | Manner of Speaking

  3. Pingback: Analysis of a Speech by Janine Shepherd | Manner of Speaking

  4. Pingback: Motivational Speaker, Posters, Quotes, Thoughts and Rewards | Motivational Thoughts

  5. Chris Colaco says:

    Hey John,

    Thank you for writing and then sharing Janine’s story on your blog. It is true Janine’s story simply proves to us that you just never ever know how far we can go. It’s synonymous with something I am trying to employ in my life …”The only limits in life are the ones we choose.”

    Look forward to seeing you tonight.



    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Chris. Thanks very much for the comment. Great tagline for one’s life: ”The only limits in life are the ones we choose.” Perhaps the subject of a future quote for public speakers!



  6. Keith Davis says:

    Hi John
    Thanks for sharing Janine’s story, an inspiration to us all.
    Puts our own problems into perspective – well certainly mine.

    “Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a hollywood movie.”
    You are spot on there John, but knowing that her story is true, makes it all the more powerful.

    “If you never have a go, you never, never know.” — Janine Shepherd
    An inspired choice for your 100th Quote, John.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks, Keith. Much appreciated. When I saw the results of the voting on what kind of quote people wanted, Janine came to mind immediately – and I mean, immediately. She’s a great example for us on so many levels.



  7. Alexandra Olsson says:

    Thanks for being such an awesome and motivational person. I will NEVER complain about the problems I have! (not that I do it much anyway).



  8. Very nice, John and, of course, Janine.

  9. John… I just posted your link onto my FB wall with the following comment:

    “Janine’s story brought me to tears of humility, respect … and some shame at my own lack of courage, grit and determination that grips me from time to time. Janine’s recovery and the life she now leads is an inspiring reminder that whatever happens to break our bodies, the human spirit at its best is awesomely indomitable and wonder-full. Thank you John Zimmer of Toastmasters International for posting this on your Website. I urge you to read Janine’s story be inspired … and remember it whenever you feel life is getting you down!! ♥”

    Thank you John for selecting Janine’s quote and telling us her story … it came at a time when I was feeling somewhat low … it lifted me up and reminded me of what true courage and self-love and determination can achieve. Bless you both!

    PS Please give my best wishes to Janine – all power to her public speaking, her life and her shining example!

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thank you, Michael, for the heartfelt comment. It is nice to see that there are still people who are willing to share their honest emotions with others. Thanks for spreading the word on Facebook. I will be sure to pass on your message to Janine.



  10. Sandy Moore says:

    Congratulations Janine!

    Your story is amazing and you are an inspiring ambassador for Motivational Speakers in Australia and worldwide.

    Warm regards,

    ~ Sandy Moore

  11. liz northrop says:

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful, inspirational story! Reading about this remarkable woman gave me goose bumps. We can ALL learn so much from her.

    God bless you – and I know He does.


  12. I am honoured John … thank you for your post and friendship!

    Cheers, Janine 🙂

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