My friend recently shared the story of a professor who handed out an exam to all of his students – one plain piece of paper with a black dot on it. There were no questions – nothing but a black dot. He then told them to write about what they saw. At the end of the exam he collected all of the papers and started reading each one out loud. Without exception, every student was focused on the black dot, what it meant, how it was positioned on the paper, etc.
After all of the reading was done, he said: “I’m not going to grade you on this; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same thing happens in our lives.”
We all have this tendency to focus on what is wrong, what is different, and all of the obstacles in our lives, rather than focusing on the enormous white space – our blessings, our potential, and our abilities.
At a Life Convention earlier this year, a young man named Trystan Willems provided a true picture of what it looks like to focus on the “white space” of life. Trystan overcame an enormous obstacle when he spoke to an audience of thousands of people… without even having the ability to move his lips.
Trystan was born with Cerebral Palsy which is a neurological disorder that affects body movement, muscle coordination, and impairs motor function. It affects all people differently. For Trystan, it affects his speech, his legs, his muscle tone, and his trunk. For years, he has been trapped in his own body.
Trystan would have every reason to focus on his obstacles, but he chooses not to. Instead, with the help of an advanced communication device that detects eye movement using pictures and words, Trystan is now able to speak and inspire the world with his positive attitude and outlook on life.
“Once in a great while someone comes along who deeply inspires us; smiling in the face of adversity, overcoming obstacles, and choosing to live a life of contribution despite the circumstances. Trystan is one of finest in that class of people who make us better just by being around them.” – Chris Brady
At almost every junction on the road of your life, both personal and professional, you have a decision to make. Will you let your obstacles stop you and dictate your life? Or will you charge forward focusing on your abilities?
Trystan Willems is a true living example of a person who is charging forward and changing the world because he has decided to focus on his abilities. Here’s his story (in his own words).
(Written by Kristen Seidl on behalf of Chris Brady)