In my last post Eastbound and Down, I mentioned that I had a chance to listen to David Westbrook share his story at the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum. I was so impressed with his story, his resilience, and his advice for the high school students that I wanted to share some of his words and advice.
Like I said previously, David lost his sight at the age of 17 due to juvenile glaucoma. He spoke of his college years and learning to adjust with his disability – he was extremely active, participating in many extracurricular activities, and was a spectacular student. He told that once he gradated, he was excited and eager to start his career, but after numerous interviews and someone asking him how he was going to open his mail and read it every day, he looked back to someone he knew. He asked a favor of the Dean of his alma mater. A phone call was made and Westbrook interviewed for a PR position at the Shawnee Mission school district. The superintendent, a World War II veteran and amputee, gave him a chance. That was the beginning of his highly successful career in Public Relations. He now is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
In his speech, he listed six things that has helped him to get where he is today and I think it is helpful advice for anyone and everyone! Westbrook’s words of wisdom includes:
1) Be real and realistic – It is extremely important to be who you are and say what you want. Embrace your capabilities because they will be your greatest strengths in life and most of all be passionate about the things that you like and care about. Do not do things half-way.
2) Embrace change and learn how to adapt – Change is the one constant thing in life. The only way to succeed in life is to learn to adapt to the situation, so welcome change because it is inevitable.
3) Be empathetic – practice patience and tolerance and most of all be compassionate. Know that compassion is enabled by empathy so do not judge and try to understand others as much as possible.
4) Understand adversity – Adversity is defined as difficulties; misfortune. Take adversity in stride and deal with setbacks. You do not know what kind of opportunity will be presented from your experiences.
5) Know the importance of giving and receiving – you, yourself, have been given a gift, but do not be selfish and not share it with others. Give others the opportunities that you have been given whenever you can.
6) Know the importance of love – love is more than four little letters and be affectionate to your partner. Be a loving person – one who is caring and considerate.
I wish you could have all been there to hear him, but hopefully you’ll still get something from his six things!