How Taking A Risk Paid Off For Me

This is where I began.

Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old. He is a graduate of Brown University, holds an honors degree in English Literature, and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. Jonathan is a highly sought-after speaker and author of two books, The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal, is a memoir and Learning Outside The Lines (now in its 14th printing).

I saw Jonathan Mooney speak about 10 years ago in Denver. I was attending a Twice Exceptional (gifted with learning differences) Symposium. I was part of a teacher/parent cadre from Boulder gathering information to take back to the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). I was struck by Jonathan’s energy, passion and his story of growing up as a kid who was marginalized because he lacked strong academic skills. As a result of his challenges in school, he acted out and became a class clown. He spent so much time in the hallway that the custodian became his best friend at school. He talked about how his mother was his saving grace; she got him through elementary school when others saw him as lazy and stupid. His mom never quit believing in him.

I was so impressed with Jonathan’s style, topic and presentation that I wanted more people to hear him speak. This was not a boring lecture – no power point! He was talking from first-hand experience (his life) about dyslexia and ADHD. Despite his rocky start, he turned his life around and became hugely successful in school and in his career.

I started using a Jonathan Mooney video in SENG Support Groups I conduct for parents with twice exceptional kids (the video is What the Silenced Say). For the last six years I’ve shown it to these parents to help encourage them to believe in and stand up for their children.

Our school district, BVSD, has that video and a user manual in all schools (over 50) to use as professional development in teaching and reaching twice exceptional kids.

As president of Boulder Valley Gifted & Talented (BVGT), one of my privileges is to suggest and help arrange for speakers on various topics related to giftedness. We invite many speakers, local and national, to present at our public gatherings. I’ve always wanted others to hear Jonathan speak (and I wanted to hear him again) so I thought it might be a good opportunity to go about seeing if BVGT could host him.

Jonathan is an international speaker and acclaimed author who charges much more than we could afford. It was a long shot but I called his management, and asked them if he’d ever consider speaking to our gifted education community for a significantly reduced fee. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. In just a few hours his rep called back and said “yes, he’ll do it!” Woo hoo!

I’m excited to have hundreds of people be exposed to Jonathan Mooney’s uplifting, positive message about exceeding despite ones limitations. My next post will tell you how it went.

The Moral Of My Story
It’s all the cliches you’ve ever heard, but they’re true:

  • step outside of your comfort zone
  • take a risk
  • just ask
  • just do it
  • don’t give up before you even try
  • assume it’s possible until you find out it’s not
  • how are you going to know if you don’t try
  • people will often help a good cause if asked
  • “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (Wayne Gretzky)

Ever think something seems too big, too daunting, and it’s not going to happen so why even try? I took a positive outlook and just did it…I asked.

My next risk: I’m asking a congressman if he’ll come speak to my high school class. Stay tuned…

Share this:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.