My 12th entry in the Top Ted Talks

I knew it would happen. I originally formed my list of my “TED Top 10 Talks” as an answer to the competition that I set out on the Twitterverse to see if others could put together a list of their own top 10 TED talks.

A few months after I wrote my Top 10 I felt the need to add the wonderful talk by Temple Grandin see: http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html

I now had to change the title of my TED Top 10 to my TED Top 11 thus: https://malbell.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/my-ted-top-10/ As you can see the url still says 10 but the title says 11!

I predicted in that post that my list would grow. There seems to be a factory line of fantastic and informative talks. It becomes very difficult not to add at least one per week. I decided that I would have to set my bar very high. Any further addition to my list would have to contain something that did the usual things that TED talks do… inspire, inform, motivate… but it also had to have another ingredient.. that it had the “X factor” it contained something special that made me want to scream to the world… see this talk it will change your perspectives.. it might change your life.

Today, I saw one such talk. It is called “The opportunity of adversity” and was delivered at TEDMED in October of 2009 and was delivered by Aimee Mullins.. whose biography (according to TED) goes: A record-breaker at the Paralympic Games in 1996, Aimee Mullins has built a career as a model, actor and activist for women, sports and the next generation of prosthetics.

In the film Aimee begins by showing the definition of “disabled” in the Webster’s Thesaurus of the early 1980’s…a number of adjectives are seen on the screen behind her… they are:

Disabled: a: crippled,helpless, useless, wrecked,stalled,maimed, wounded, mangled, lame, mutilated, run down, worn out, weakened, impotent, castrated, paralysed, handicapped, senile, decrepit, laid up, done up, done for, done in, cracked up, counted out see also hurt.

She said these words one by one and they flew from her lips like knives… I could hardly believe what I was hearing and seeing.

Slowly, she built up her personal story about being born without shinbones and having her lower limbs amputated by the time she was 2. She stated that the doctor who delivered her had to tell her parents the prognosis that she would probably not live long  and that even if she did she would probably never achieve anything! She stated that she met this doctor many years later who admitted that she had spent her life disproving everything that he had said to her parents.

She tells us about a Doctor, an Italian American whose name was so difficult for a young child to pronounce that he answered to the name Dr P.

Dr P was there to help Aimee to develop her strength in her struggles to have some movement on her artificial lower legs. She said that she found the exercises that he gave her particularly with very large and rigid elastic bands extremely difficult and that she hated doing it. But she remembered one time when he came in and said to her that “Aimee you are a strong able  young girl… I think that you’ll break those bands soon.. and if you do… I’ll give you $100”.

She stated that these words were significant to her because they stated what she could do and that she had the power to do it… that she was not unable, decrepit, useless or wrecked….. and that she could develop a positive self-image and achieve. Just this small thing gave her the confidence to succeed.

She goes on to state that words do have power… we define people by words and we can destroy people (and especially children)  by words….. “you’re not good enough… you’ll never amount to anything”.

I heard so much in Aimee’s talk that resonated in my own mind about my belief that everyone has potential and that we must never close the door on that potential. The experiment that she mentions (her in the U.K. where I live) where a group of “D” Children were told that they were “A” children and started to achieve success (as well as the poor old “A” children who were told that they were “D” children and started to fail and find school difficult) only proves that my career campaign against setting is fundamentally right…. and keeps me saying the message… do not label children! Never tell them that they are useless or they will act as if they are.

Aimee had so much to overcome in her life and has achieved so much….. her talk was in every respect, inspiring, moving, motivational but more than that… it had that special something that told me it had to be added to what will now be renamed “My Ted Top 12” (same URL as above…)

If you have the time… watch the video below….. and see whether it makes your list as well.

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