Self-help author Sean Stephenson on The Prison Of Your Mind at TEDxIronwoodStatePrison – Transcript
Full speaker bio:
Sean Stephenson – Self-help author
I’m trying to compose my blog post for tonight, and I’m thinking it sounds really believable that I went to prison and hugged a bunch of really nice prisoners, while I DJed busy, threw on some records, and Richard Branson told me where I can score some free heroin.
Lesson number 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.
35 years later, all those doctors are dead and I am the only doctor that remains.
Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you. How many predictions have been thrown at you your whole life? If you believe predictions that do not empower you, you will wither away and die, either physically die or your spirit will die as you just walk around the world like a carcass that is just following the masses.
You will be given a lot of titles in your life. You will be told so many different things. You must only listen to that which empowers you. 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.
And I’m not here today to tell you that I’ve had adversity in my life and so therefore, I know what you are going through. I don’t have a clue what any of you are going through in your lives. I did not grow up in your neighborhoods more than likely. I did not have your set of parents, nor do I live in your body. I’ve not had the events that you’ve had happened to you.
I can tell you I am only an expert on one thing, and that’s how to be me, and I do it well. But it’s not come easily.
I’ve gone through things that I don’t wish upon anyone in this room. I’ve had metal rods pulled out of bone marrow while I was awake. I’ve had jaw infections where teeth had to be extracted and I can no longer chew my own food. I have to get up every day and be showered and cared for physically by another human being. Fortunately, she is a gorgeous woman that I married.
I get stared at everywhere I go, and the moment people meet me, if they don’t know a thing about my résumé, they automatically, just by the human nature, think to themselves: “Oh, it must be so difficult to be that man!”
If somebody pities me, they’re wasting their time, because I have chosen a life of strength, and I am here to help you choose a life of strength, but I’m going to tell you, we’ve talked about drugs here. You know what the worst drug that ever hit the human race is? Pity.
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.
We cannot pity ourselves, we cannot pity you. Yes, I get to go home today. Yes, I get to have what many would call freedom, but I’m going to talk to you about freedom, about what I really choose to see freedom as. Because like I said, you cannot believe predictions that do not empower you.
The second lesson today is: you are not your condition. You’re not. I’m not disabled.
Sure, I’ll take the handicapped parking privileges but that does not define me as a man. Not able? I’ve been looked at and treated my whole life as if I am not able. I have had to rise above and show people that the only disability is one’s refusal to adapt. You have to adapt to whatever environment you’re in, even if it’s prison.
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. Look! If you do not want to be seen as a prisoner or a convict when you get out of this, or even while you’re in this, that is an attitude — it is a belief in yourself that you bring value to the human race, no matter what your current condition, title, or stature is.
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.