Selective Mute to Public Speaker

Overcoming the challenges of life

As a parent, I often think of the miracle of seeing my daughter born into this world. That moment when she took her very first breath. I looked at her and marvelled at her perfect appearance. This is the case for most parents.

I recall the days as I watched her develop, watching her roll over, sit up, crawl and eventually walk. I will never forget the day that her uncle was visiting. he was playing with her, and she just got up and walked.

As parents we celebrate each of the milestones in our children's lives. We also have a bit of a sigh of relief as we see our children develop. This is not the case for all parents, often they see their children look so perfect at that time of birth, but it is not until they begin to develop that some problems become more apparent.

And so, it was a concern for my parents. If I were born this time, I would probably would have been diagnosed as a Selective Mute. I just did not speak. All the while, my mother tells me that I was a good communicator. I communicated through mime and my older brother was my translator.

It was not that I didn't have the ability to speak, I didn't desire to speak. I could communicate all that I needed using of mime. With a great translator, why would I speak?

In the end my parents decided to ignore me when I mimed. They would give me attention when I tried to speak. Over time the words started to flow, but not without trouble with pronunciation, which was treated through speech therapy at the age of 5 or 6-year-old.

Who would have ever imagined that I would be a public speaker today? It feels surreal when I think of the large audiences I have stood in front of. Audiences as large as 13,000 people with plenty of small audiences. Today, I still have problems with pronunciation and when I speak, I often choose to use what I call "safe words", these are words that I know how to pronounce without the fear of getting it wrong.

People have a lot of potential. The problem is that we often look at our problems and apply a label to them. Labels are common today. We need to look past our problems and perceived limitations. Most of the time there are things in our lives that we can change, and what we change today also changes our future.

Leadership Destination, Vaughan Rivett June 1, 2022
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