How do you spell “inspiration”?

A confession: one of my all-time favorite movies is THE WIZARD OF OZ. I love that the core lesson Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion all learn is that the things they wanted so badly and sought so tenaciously were already in them — they just had to recognize their gifts and believe in themselves. It’s a simple yet powerful lesson for us all, and it came to my mind again last week.

I MC’d an Adult Spelling Bee to benefit a local Literacy Council. It’s always great fun — the three-person teams study hard and expend great enthusiasm and energy to do their best. They overcome nerves and apprehension to compete in spelling increasingly difficult words. All the participants leave the event feeling proud and satisfied, and knowing they’ve accomplished something they initially feared.

Before the spelling competition began, though, one of the Literacy Council’s students stood in front of that room of strangers and told the story of his journey from being a non-reader to becoming a reader. He is a 58 year old man who explained that he finally became fed up with his situation and sought help. He spoke with great admiration, appreciation and affection for his tutor, and proudly informed us that he’d recently finished his first book and had just started his second book. Please pause and think about that. At age 58, this man just finished reading the FIRST book of his life. And he courageously explained to us all how he had come to the point in his life to seek help to make it happen. It was an extraordinary story about an extraordinary accomplishment. And when asked what advice he would give to someone else needing literacy help, he replied simply, “DO IT! DON’T WAIT.”

What wisdom! What inspiration! We all face challenges and set goals in our lives, and sometimes it is daunting and scary to tackle them. The bigger the challenge, the more hopeless or unrealistic it can seem. I hope this story is a reminder that even large obstacles can be overcome, and it’s worth at least trying to follow your dreams. So … click your heels together and DO IT! DON’T WAIT!

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