Saturday, September 16, 2006

Source of Inspiration

On a slightly different vein today. I heard a speaker today who moved and inspired me ... not only by what he has had to endure in his life and his ability to survive but also through the lessons he learned along the way.

The speaker Li Cunxin, is the author of Mao's Last Dancer's. Here is a snapshot of his life from his website.

"Li was born into bitter poverty in rural Qingdao, China. Certain years the peasants in his village even ate tree barks to survive ... One day, a delegation from Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy arrived at Li's commune school to find suitable children to study ballet and serve in Chairman Mao's revolution. At first they passed Li without taking any notice, but just as they were walking out of his classroom, the class teacher hesitated, and suddenly tapped the last gentleman from Beijing on the shoulder and pointed. `What about that boy?'. And that boy was Li. And so began Li's remarkable journey. He was 11 when he left home to begin a seven-year harsh training regime from 5.30 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week at the Beijing Dance Academy ... With incredible determination, resilience, perseverance and vision, Li graduated as one of the best dancers China has produced ... And became one of the first two cultural exchange students allowed to go to America to study under Mao’s regime ... In a dramatic defection, Li was subsequently locked up in the Chinese Consulate in Houston. This created a standoff between the Chinese and the American governments. Even George Bush senior, then US Vice President intervened. FBI agents surrounded the consulate in Houston, and negotiations between Chinese and US diplomats had begun. His defection was the headline story in America. Twenty-one hours later, Li walked out of the Chinese Consulate as a free man."

What impressed my about this man is his drive. He had a very poor upbringing but knew that if an opportunity presented itself, he would leap at it and try to get a better life for himself and his family.

He says you can't get anywhere without sacrifice and dedication. As a new dancer, his legs were not strong enough to perform the jumps he needed so he would wake at 5 before rehersals start, strap sand bags to his legs and run up and down the stairs. He would do the same at night when his rehersals ended at 9 pm, and eventually, his legs were strong enough. It took dedication to get where he needed to be.

Finally, he talked about passion. He said that after spending 2 years at the academy, he hated ballet (but continued to do it because it was an opportunity to escape his poverty. One day, a new instructor inspired him and a love of ballet grew. I also believe it is that love of the ballet that would have transformed him from an average dancer to an extrodinary dancer.

Think over your life, are there people who inspired you so much that you took on challenges you would have never conceived?

Think of your business, do you challenge others and instill a passion in them.

If not, why not. In our business, being a coach is critical but inspiration will lead to miraculous results in our businesses.