He Invented Braille for The Blind

Louis Braille

Blind from age three, Louis Braille learned to read at a school for the blind in Paris where, at that time, books for the blind could weigh as much as a hundred pounds! Inspired by the indented dots on dice, he invented the Braille system of reading and writing, now available in every language in the world.

In 1812, a three-year-old boy was playing in his father’s leather workshop in Coupvray, France when he had an accident that would change the world. Louis Braille accidentally poked himself in the eye with an awl: The metal point blinded him in one eye and an infection soon left him totally blind.

Louis was a bright boy and won a scholarship to a school for the blind in Paris. It was not a particularly nice place; students were often fed bread and water and locked up for punishment. Louis and the other blind children were taught various skills (Louis became expert at playing the organ and cello), and they were taught to read. At that time, books for the blind used raised letters with metal wires under the paper, and some of the books weighed one hundred pounds!

One day, a soldier visited the school and talked about a code system that he had invented in the French army. It used raised dots and dashes on a piece of paper to allow soldiers to send each other messages in the dark while remaining silent.

Louis and the other children found the system too confusing, but the basic idea stuck in the boy’s head. He began experimenting with different ways of creating a language using raised dots on paper—and for this, he used the same awl that had blinded him!

One day, Louis Braille happened to pick up a pair of dice and feel the six dots on one side. That’s when inspiration struck him. He soon developed a code for each letter of the alphabet, with numbers and symbols like periods and question marks, all using no more than six dots.

One great advantage of his system was that you could read each letter or symbol using the tip of your finger. With practice, a reader could run his finger along a line and read very quickly. The other big plus was that blind people using Braille’s system could write as well as read. His system opened up a whole new world!

It took many years for the Braille system to take off, and its popularity was still spreading when Louis died in 1852. Not many people can say that they invented an entire new system of reading and writing, but Louis Braille did. What’s more, his system was adopted around the world, and today is available in virtually every language that humans speak.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

You Can Let Go Daddy

As a father, when your children start to seek and achieve their own independence, we can sometimes have mixed feelings. We’re proud and we also might feel less needed or important. Letting go and letting our children fly on their own as they are able is what good parenting is about. It isn’t always easy.

 

Advocate for Freedom, Equality & Justice

Michaëlle Jean

Michaëlle Jean has had a variety of interesting roles in her life. Compassionate and caring, she has always used them to support her advocacy for freedom, equality, and justice.

The year 1968 was a dangerous and frightening time to live in Haiti. Dictator François Duvalier was jailing and torturing anyone who spoke out against his brutal government.

Many victims and their families tried to escape, and a lucky few made it to Canada. That’s how a little girl named Michaëlle Jean wound up in the small Quebec town of Thetford Mines.

She grew into a beautiful, well-educated woman who could speak half a dozen languages. Although Jean now enjoyed a peaceful, prosperous life, she never forgot the suffering she had seen—her father tortured, poor people oppressed, women and children brutalized.

So Michaëlle Jean worked at a women’s shelter and with new immigrants to Canada, helping others improve their lives. She began a successful career as a radio/TV broadcaster and filmmaker, and used her position there to shine a light on injustice and suffering around the world.

As she worked to build a network of women’s shelters across Canada and write about the hardships of immigrant women, Jean used her remarkable brain, but led with her heart. She became known for her sympathy for anyone fighting on the side of freedom and equality.

Then, in 2005, her reputation for caring and compassion led to an amazing opportunity; a chance to make an even bigger difference in the world. It came in the form of an invitation from the Government of Canada, asking if Michaëlle Jean—the former immigrant girl from Haiti—would like to be the next governor general!

As the Queen’s official representative in Canada, she met world leaders, hosted important conferences, and traveled the globe as a spokesperson for the nation.

But most importantly, in this position Jean was able to lead and inspire others to follow her example. As governor general, she dedicated herself to breaking down barriers —between French and English, black and white, rich and poor, east and west, north and south.

After her term as governor general came to an end, Michaëlle Jean was chosen by the United Nations to be a special envoy for her homeland of Haiti, giving her a fresh opportunity to help tackle the challenges in that troubled country.

She continues to lead with her heart, lending her voice and energy to care for the underprivileged, and helping to make the world a better, more caring place.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

A Quadriplegic Determined to Walk

Aaron Moser

After a serious accident not only ended Aaron Moser’s junior hockey career but made him a quadriplegic, he created a research foundation dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Some Canadian patriots get themselves a maple leaf tattoo. Aaron Moser got two maple leafs built into his custom-made wheelchair—the one he used to help carry the Olympic torch.

It was an incredibly proud moment when Moser, who calls himself a “super patriot,” helped carry the torch around the arena at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. It was also a tribute to him and his courage.

Aaron was only seventeen years old when tragedy struck during a 1998 local junior league hockey game in British Columbia. He was checked into the boards, hit head first, and broke his neck. Aaron’s spinal cord was cut, leaving him a quadriplegic; he has no feeling or movement below his chest.

For Aaron, who was such an athletic and active guy, it was a brutal blow. For his family, it meant adapting their lives and their home to support him, and help him adjust to his new life. It also meant extra expenses.

Aaron Moser’s family, friends, and the entire community pulled together. They set up a trust fund to cover the renovations, equipment, supplies, and other expenses. Soon, the trust fund was swamped with donations—not just from people in the area who knew Aaron, but also from people throughout the world of hockey.

They weren’t just motivated by the tragedy; they were inspired by the way the teenager handled the shocking change to his life. Aaron refused to complain about his fate or to give up hope. He kept insisting that he would work hard enough and long enough to walk again.

The trust fund and Moser’s courage kept attracting donations. After a while, there was enough money not only to help Aaron Moser, but also to set up a foundation in his name—a non-profit group dedicated to helping find a cure for him and others with spinal cord injuries.

Every year, Moser and dedicated volunteers run a golf tournament and other activities to raise money for spinal cord injury research. As of this writing, they have brought in more than $400,000. And every year, they help researchers get a little closer to a cure.

As Moser always says, “I have no doubt that one day I will walk again!”

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

Wet Cement

Sometimes the opportunity to be patient and kind is also an opportunity to get angry. It’s a choice. Do like this man did – choose patience and kindness.It’s a better choice for the young boy; and, it’s a better choice for you.

Wet Cement, posted with vodpod

 

Aviation Pioneer & Women’s Advocate

Amelia Earhart

A record-setting aviation pioneer and adventurer, Amelia Earhart was a celebrity and advocate for women’s equality in the early 1900s.

Millie and Pidge were two unusual little girls. Growing up in the 1860s in Kansas, their mother let them run wild like the neighborhood boys—something that just wasn’t done in those days. Millie and her sister became fearless tomboys: climbing trees, collecting bugs, and helping their uncle build a home-made (and very dangerous!) wooden roller coaster.

Full of self-confidence, Amelia (Millie’s real name) grew up determined to do something great with her life. She just didn’t know what it was going to be.

One answer seemed to come during World War I, when Earhart visited her sister in Toronto and ended up volunteering as a nurse at a military hospital. Right after the war, a worldwide flu pandemic killed millions of people in 1918. Earhart kept nursing but got sick herself, and spent nearly a year recovering in the hospital.

Then, something else happened in Toronto that changed Amelia Earhart’s life. She watched one of the first annual air shows at the famous Canadian National Exhibition. The pilot of a biplane swooped down low and flew right over her head. From that moment, she was hooked on airplanes.

Back home in Kansas, Earhart took her first airplane ride and announced that she was going to learn to fly. Working every job she could get, Amelia saved up the money for lessons and became only the sixteenth woman in the world to get her international flying license.

Amelia Earhart became somewhat of a celebrity and set out to promote flying, especially for women. Her fame skyrocketed after she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, even though she was little more than a passenger.

After that, Earhart started setting her own records. She became the first woman to fly across North America and back, set a new world altitude record, and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

By this time, she was a major star—writing books, making celebrity appearances, and designing her own line of clothes. She used her fame to promote flying as a form of transportation, and constantly worked for equality for women, not just in the air, but in all aspects of life.

Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous people in the world when she disappeared during her greatest adventure—flying around the world. Her fate is still a mystery.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

 

 

He Has Sold 100 Million Books


Paulo Coelho

The most widely published Brazilian author of all time, Paulo Coelho has sold close to 100 million copies of his books and has also been a theater director, an actor, a songwriter, and a journalist. 

When Paulo Coelho told his parents he wanted to be a writer, they thought he was crazy—literally. The Brazilian teenager’s parents had him committed to an insane asylum!

Paulo escaped three times before he was finally released and ready to follow a more normal path through life. He then enrolled in law school, as his parents desired.

But his creative instinct was too strong to be locked away, either behind bars or inside his own life. He had to break free. So Paulo dropped out of school, became a hippie, and traveled around Brazil looking for his inspiration. He found it through music and started writing amazing, strange, and wonderful songs. Soon, Paulo Coelho’s work was being recorded by some of the biggest singing stars in Brazil.

Unfortunately, the oppressive military government at that time thought his songs were too subversive because they talked about freedom and defying authority. Coelho was arrested and tortured for his beliefs.

However, nothing would stop him from using his creative powers. Years after his release, Coelho went for a walk— a 500-mile walk along a road in northern Spain. He used the time to reflect on his life, and he came to the realization that he still wanted to be a writer.

So even though he was now middle-aged, Paulo Coelho started on a new career as a novelist. His first two books went nowhere, but his third book, The Alchemist, made world history. It has sold more than sixty million copies (one of the bestselling books ever written), and holds the world record for being translated into more languages—seventy-one—than any other book by a living author.

Since then, Coelho has written more than two dozen books, sharing his unique world view with readers everywhere. He has also been a pioneer of sharing his work for free—his publisher once caught him pirating his own books online. His greatest life lesson, he says, has been to never surrender your dreams or give up on making them come true. “The secret to life,” according to Coelho, “is to fall down seven times, but to get back up eight times.”

Paulo Coelho is also an outspoken activist for peace and social justice. He is a Messenger of Peace for the UN, an Ambassador to the European Union for Intercultural Dialogue, and a member of many other organizations that advocate for peace.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

My 2012 Quest

The Importance of Listening

 

It is amazing how under appreciated the skill of listening is. Listening is important in personal relationships, business and personal development.

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

— Henry David Thoreau, Author

In personal relationships having someone listen to you, really listen to you, without advising you, without waiting to provide a response, but simply to hear you, to understand you, is rare. It is also a wonderful gift.

How many times has someone really listened to you without an agenda? How many times have you listened to someone, just to hear them?

“We listened to what our customers wanted and acted on what they said. Good things happen when you pay attention.”

— John F Smith, Former CEO and President General Motors

To listen to your customers intently to understand their wants, their problems or needs and their expectations is the most important market research you can do. Early in my career I was a top salesman. From experience I can tell you that the most important sales tool is the right question and the ability to listen to and understand the answer. Selling, is after all, problem solving. Once you understand the customers problem you can provide the right solution. It never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople are anxious to present me their solution before they understand my problem.

Do you ask questions to understand the problem before presenting your solution? How could you improve your questions and your listening?

“Listen to the chorus of voices in your own head. If they express worry, doubt, or fear counter them by asking yourself empowering questions to reframe your thinking.”

— Vivo Saggezza, mentor

Ask yourself, “What can I learn. Who can I get to help? How can I reduce risk? How can I increase my confidence? Who do I know who has done this before?

You will find answers that empower you. Your thinking will change to the action you can take to achieve your objective.

Better listening can improve your personal life, your business success and your personal development. What can you do today to improve your listening?

Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™ -- Now available at - Amazon.com