As a little boy, he struggled for two hours to get into his pants. Today, John Foppe, born without arms, globe-trots, paints, writes… The motivational speaker and author, who will be in the city, narrates his story

He snow-skies, swims, writes books, paints, runs a successful international motivation company, travels across the globe, looks after his doting wife and six-year-old daughter, gives back to society, and inspires thousands of individuals and dozens of organisations around the world. Born without arms, John Foppe is an inspiring person who has learnt to use his legs and toes to do an amazing range of things, by sheer perseverance. “The human body has the capacity to adapt to needs, and I have practised and developed motor skills in my feet,” he says modestly. Author of the book Born Without Arms and the autobiography What’s Your Excuse? Making The Most Of What You Have, John will be holding motivational workshops in Chennai and Hyderabad, besides a free workshop in Kolkata for physically-challenged children and the sisters at the Missionaries of Charity.

“First, people look at me and think “No arms… Hmm… interesting. Later, they begin to think that if I can do so much, they can do a lot too. My job is to be a mirror. I show people a different perspective; I train them in different emotional reactions and practices,” says Foppe. “We try to change things in the world. We think: ‘If only I had more money, more charm, more education, more friends, etc’. What I am offering is an internal path — to work on our own selves.”

Life-changing encounters

John wasn’t born with such positivity. As a little boy in the small town of Breese in Illinois, the U.S., he did feel bitter about the cards life had dealt him, and relied on his large family to even put on his pants. That changed when his mom Carole decided that no one was to help John, and that he had to learn to become self-reliant. The next morning, it took John two hours to struggle into his pants, which he eventually achieved by hooking the belt loop of his pants to a door knob, and put his legs into the pants. “I was feeling angry, exhausted and was in tears by the end of it, but I realised that if I could do that, I could do much more too,” John shares. Thus began John’s journey. He went on to do his Master’s degree in Social Work, researched on vision execution and motivation, and founded Visionary Velocity Worldwide, a motivation company. His clients include Miami Dolphins, Boeing, GE and State Farm.

Another encounter that John credits to have changed his life, was when a small boy hugged him spontaneously. “The realisation that he had looked past my condition and accepted me totally brought a spiritual awakening for me. I began to understand that when we lift up or help others, we lift ourselves up.”

Well, we all have our moments of inspiration, but how does one retain it? Says Foppe, “I too have to read inspirational books and do the right things to stay inspired. I do feel an ache sometimes, like about not being able to hold my daughter’s bike when she is learning to cycle. But I remember that my response to my condition has taught her much too.”

Foppe wisdom

- You can’t always be happy. It is okay to be down and feel bad, but it is not okay to stay down or stay depressed.

- Some things are not in our control; like the weather, or how people perceive us. But there is a huge factor that we can change — ourselves.

- You may not be what you like to be, but you have to accept it and work to change it, not go into a downward spiral.

- If you feel unworthy, create the worth now.

- There is no magic formula. We need to persevere day in and day out. It boils down to our daily choices, decisions, and how we deal with our limitations.

- You have to work at staying positive. Read inspiring books; have some quiet time; take time to pray or meditate to put things in perspective; hang out with the right (positive) people...

- You don’t need to do it all by yourself. It is okay to take help from family, friends, and faith.

John Foppe will hold the workshop No Excuses at Hotel Leela Palace on December 19 from 6.30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For tickets, call 96770-77991 / 97908-70699.

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