What qualifies as an ability? How do you know if you are challenging your limits? Where do you find inspiration?
When Deepa Malik introduced herself in a video challenging Tesco Bengaluru colleagues at our 2017 International Women’s Day event asking “what’s stopping you?” it triggered many to self-introspect. As the keynote speaker, Deepa used stories from her personal life to illustrate what it meant to be a paraplegic and yet not give up on dreams one has.
All through her dialogue, the message rang through loud and clear – our choices and decisions shape who we are. We can either be swayed by what people talk about us or we can carve our own path.
To help everyone gathered understand her condition she asked our CEO, Glen Attewell to spot the 3rd button from the top of his shirt to indicate from where her body was paralyzed chest downwards. To not move a single muscle below her chest and yet keep setting records, scaling new heights and garnering accolades around the world speaks volumes about Deepa’s willpower and commitment. Instead of wallowing in her sorrows or what ‘society felt’ she decided to make the most of what she had – and make a difference.
Deepa Malik became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics, is a Padma Shri recipient, an Arjuna Award winner, the President Role Model awardee, the 1st Indian paraplegic biker, car rally winner, swimmer and motivational speaker. Quite an achievement indeed. She continues to change policies to benefit the disabled, influence stakeholders, make the world respect her abilities rather than her disabilities. Not just that, she has inspired her children to also be achievers – her daughter Devika and she holds a world record as well!
Here are messages I took away from the address.
– There are naysayers and then there are achievers: Learn to ignore negativity – “opinions are free” and if you allow that to hinder your life you will get nowhere.
– Cherish what you have: Be grateful for what you have as abilities and hone them each day. We are educated but most don’t put that education to good use. We only use it for a job. We can also use it to make a difference everywhere.
– View life as a “half full” cup: It is always good to move forward than feel constrained by what you don’t have. Add more positivity to the world around you. You are your own inspiration.
– Change your perspective: How you view life is what you get. Change to Deepa meant movement, progress, commitment, consistency and hard work. Finding meaning in your life is about challenging your limits
– Nothing comes easy: Preparation is key, so also adaptability. Face adversity head-on, plan your response and you can make a difference.
– Appreciate others: When we are grateful for what people do for us, let go of ego, acknowledge and seek help and see positive intent in what people do, you will be blessed.
Inspirational words aren’t always often enough. When you demonstrate through actions is when people believe you mean business. One image struck me the most at the session – of our CEO wheeling Deepa off-stage to the applause of all colleagues present. It did indicate that our behaviors shape the culture within organizations and with that act, it was evident that our heart was in the right place.
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