In this blog, author and public speaker Patrick Souiljaert tells of how he conquered his fear of speaking in public and turned his story into a book, Stairs For Breakfast.
Six years ago I never thought I would be where I am today. Back then, I had a good but mind-numbingly boring IT job – and had no idea that I would become an inspirational speaker and published author.
I’m often asked where the title for my book Stairs For Breakfast came from.
In 2011 while viewing buy-to-let properties I was waiting for the estate agent to arrive. Puzzled, seeing a disabled man standing with crutches, the agent asked me whether I was okay walking up the stairs as there were quite a lot of them. Off the top of my head I replied “Yes I’ll be fine, I eat stairs for breakfast.”
“What fear would you like to overcome?”
Never will I forget the first time I spoke in front of about 50 people.
Towards the end of 2011 I attended a three day wealth and lifestyle course. On the second day, John (the guy teaching the course) asked the audience “What fear would you like to overcome?” Without thinking I put my hand up and said “Speaking on stage in front of people” and John invited to come and join him.
As I walked up onto the stage I felt a mixture of nervous tension and of adrenaline. However when I sat on the chair and saw the audience looking at me I thought ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ and I started to hyperventilate for what seemed like ages. Out of breath, I said a few times “I’m alright…I’m alright!”. Then I thought ‘Screw it’ and I went into the present moment. Relaxed with a big smile, I said “I can overcome anything!”
I only spoke for a few minutes about my journey over the last year or so and said that I want to make a difference in the world. The audience stood up and gave me an awesome round of applause. It was so exhilarating and I felt a great sense of achievement. So many people came up and said to me “You’re amazing”.
Feeling the fear and doing it anyway
I’m a great advocate for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I’ve had that approach all my life. It’s a great way of stretching yourself and growing.
My mindset is my greatest asset. Growing up, my family never treated me differently and encouraged me to be independent. I don’t think or see myself as being disabled. There’s nothing I cannot do. Having said that I’m not into playing football and I’m no Pavarotti!
I enjoy setting myself challenging goals and like doing ‘the impossible’ – things other people say I won’t be able to do. In the early 1990s for example, having a passion for working in radio as a producer, I joined a local hospital radio station, where I met Ted who told me that I would never work in radio. I later went onto to work for three radio stations, working with Ted at one of them!
By leaving my IT job-for-life and going into property investment in 2010, I’ve learnt so much about people and success. It has also taught me my purpose in life: to help and inspire people and to make a difference in the world. I see my Cerebral Palsy as a real gift because I can inspire people.
Something else I’ve learnt in the last few years is ascension meditation. It’s a practice about being very aware of your thoughts – and becoming the observer of your thoughts, rather than identifying with them. Ascension relaxes the mind and brings you into living in the present moment. Amazingly, I have found ascension not only relaxes my mind but it also relaxes my body – making it easier for me to walk and talk.
People tend to worry about the past or the future. But here’s the thing; the past cannot be changed and the future hasn’t happened. The only time which ever exists is right now!
Perception is a funny thing. People are inspired by seeing how well I cope with life physically. To me, physically, my life is a piece of cake. People have no idea of the emotional trauma and pain I have been through and overcome.
Anyone can overcome and achieve anything in life. All you need is self-belief, persistence and enough desire. Here I am demonstrating self-belief, desire and feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Writing my book
I had so much desire to write a book on how to overcome adversity and achieve anything you want. It took me 15 months to write 216,000 words – all typed with my left index finger. Little did I know I had written enough content for two books! The sequel is yet to be published.
My main motivation for writing my autobiography was I knew it would help and inspire people – and it would give me a platform as inspirational speaker. I also love to make people laugh!
Since self-publishing Stairs For Breakfast last year, I have been picked up by Hay House in America. Also having the chance to work with Scope, I see infinite and exciting opportunities of making a difference in the world.