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Communications on the the power to dream, from a man who has walked the talk to amazing places

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Public speaking, in the right hands, can leave you informed, entertained, upset, or motivated, all of which serve a purpose, but if it leaves you feeling inspired, well, that's about as good as it gets.


Many gifted speakers can do this to one extent or another, but the ability to communicate is only part of the package, the rest lies in who it's coming from because that determines how much credibility they have – in other words, to what extent they walk the talk.


I had the privilege over the weekend to hear someone who is the embodiment of what he speaks about, and I cannot remember listening to anyone who left me with such a combination of admiration and inspiration.


Terry Kelly has been blind since he was one. Despite this, he keeps racking up accomplishment after accomplishment, award after award.


As a singer/songwriter he has under his belt six studio albums, 11 singles, a song of the year (In my father's house in 1993), Canadian Country Music Awards, ECMA awards and a Juno.


He's a double silver medalist in Canadian track and one of only three blind people in the world to run a mile in under five minutes.


And he has been awarded an Order of Canada medal.


But there was no mention of any of this in his keynote presentation on Saturday, which was part of IBEW Local 37's annual personal and professional development day for members, part of this progressive union's commitment to learning, but that's another subject for another day. 


In his presentation, Kelly blended his music and matter-of-fact style with a generous portion of humour but without the slightest hint of self-pity in delivering his message about overcoming life's obstacles to realize your dreams. In fact he dismissed his blindness as something he doesn't even think about anymore.


But as someone in the audience I couldn't help but think about it, and that's where the admiration comes in. He talked about what he called his Dream Adjustment model.


His stories about his days at the School for the Blind in Halifax where he said he was given the gift of not being pampered, and where he and the other kids rose to the challenge of figuring out how to play hockey and drive a tractor, and how he took it to heart when he was told if being blind is the worst thing you have to deal with then consider yourself very lucky.


I can't possibly do his presentation justice but it was so powerful to hear him speak and to realize what an absolutely fulfilling life he has led and continues to live while many of the rest of us live our lives with our dreams on the back burner, suffering from what he calls “excuse-itis”.  And that's where the inspiration part comes in.


I was so glad I chose to attend the learning day and especially glad to hear Kelly's presentation. But throughout it I kept thinking how many people I know and care about whom I wished were there to hear it as well.


If you ever get the chance to hear this guy, go. He's a world class presenter that can't help but leave you inspired. 


Meantime, here's one of his great songs, certainly one of my favourites, In My Father's House






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