Full text of educator Dan Meyer on Cutting Through Fear at TEDxMaastricht conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Cutting through fear by Dan Meyer at TEDxMaastricht
Thank you. There once was a king in India, a Maharaja and for his birthday, a decree went out that all the chiefs should bring gifts fit for a king. Some brought fine silks, some brought fancy swords, some brought gold.
At the end of the line came walking a very wrinkled little old man who’d walked up from his village many, many days journey by the sea. And as he walked up the king’s son asked, “What gift do you bring for the King?”
And the old man very slowly opened his hand to reveal a very beautiful seashell, with swirls of purple and yellow, red and blue.
And the King’s son said, “That’s no gift for the King! What kind of gift is that?”
The old man looked up at him slowly and said, “Long walk… part of gift.”
In a few moments, I’m going to give you a gift, a gift that I believe is a gift worth spreading. But before I do, let me take you on my long walk.
Like most of you, I started out life as a little kid. How many of you started life as a little kid? Born young?
About half of you, OK.
And the rest of you, what? You were born full-grown? Boy, I want to meet your momma. Talk about impossible!
As a little kid, I always had a fascination with doing the impossible. Today is a day I’ve been looking forward to for many, many years, because today is the day I’m going to attempt to do the impossible right before your very eyes, right here at TEDxMaastricht.
I’m going to start by giving you a gift – by revealing the ending. And I’m going to prove to you that the impossible is not impossible. And I’m going to end by giving you a gift worth spreading. I’m going to show you that you can do the impossible in your life.
In my quest to do the impossible, I’ve found that there are two things that are universal among people around the world. Everybody has fears, and everyone has dreams.
In my quest to do the impossible, I’ve found there are three things that I do around the world, or that I’ve done over my years that have kind of caused me to do the impossible: Dodgeball, or as you call it Trefbal, Superman, and Mosquito. Those are my three keywords. Now you know why I do the impossible in my life.
So I’m going to take you on my journey, my long walk from fears to dreams, from words to swords, from Dodgeball to Superman to Mosquito. And I hope to show you how you can do the impossible in your life.
October 4th, 2007. My heart was racing, my knees were shaking as I stepped out on stage at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University to accept the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for a medical research paper I’d co-written called Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects.