Greater Than Any Obstacle

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There probably isn’t a person reading this post who hasn’t heard of Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven, one of the most famous of all composers, became deaf and composed some of his most famous symphonies while completely deaf. It is said that he had the legs cut off of a piano and when he struck a chord, he “heard” the note by putting his ear to the floor.



Chances are you’ve not heard of Myles de Bastion, a young man who is an engineer born virtually deaf. He is able to hear some frequencies with the help of hearing aids, but certainly, his hearing does not allow him to naturally hear music such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor or most any music. However, the young man has a passion and a dream. He is developing a computer technology to turn music into light. In the not too distant future, his technology could be put into effect in concert halls whether rock music, Hip-Hop, jazz or opera. Why did he do this? In a recent interview, he said, “I have a passion to help those with hearing deficits to see music.”



Carlos is a law student at a nearby university, and he is doing quite well, but if all else fails he could open a paint store. I usually see him at the paint counter of our local “Big Box” home improvement store. He works at the paint counter with the passion, zest and zeal of an NFL linebacker. His customers love him because he seems to listen to them. In fact, he wants to hear their questions, and he encourages his customers to talk to each other. He will frequently make comments such as, “What do you think of this color? What do you like about it? Are you completely happy with it? I want you to be happy.”

The manager of the paint department consistently gives Carlos the best of reviews. I once told the manager that he should have ten more employees like Carlos. The manager agreed with me, and then he shared a secret: “Carlos is color-blind,” he laughed. Yes, it’s true. Carlos can’t tell a Burnt Sienna from a Fuchsia, a Lemon Yellow from a Peach, but his customer service and caring make him a favorite.



Peggy, the lead singer of our church choir, has a mom who just turned 89. Her mom’s name is Doris. Doris is the local heroine of the homeless shelter. Not only is she a fantastic human being who treats even the most down and out person with respect, but her cooking is awesome. Her specialty is the incredible desserts, especially the fruit pies. In fact, her pies are legendary. Last summer, a writer for the local newspaper interviewed “Miss Doris” as she is called. The writer wanted to know why she made incredibly delicious pies, the envy of every restaurant in the region, for people without money or any means to repay her.

“Who am I,” she said, “to keep others from having enjoyment in their lives? Aren’t we here to do good?” She shared her recipe for apple pie, and the recipe and story were picked up by the news services and broadcast nationwide.

Peggy shared something about her mom. Since Doris was a young woman, she has had problems with olfaction. She has a deviated septum and nasal polyps, and she’s had three or four surgeries. Doris literally cannot smell.



You’ve probably not heard of Mary Gannon, a middle school math teacher from Ohio. Let me start by sharing what two students recently said about Ms. Gannon:

“She inspires me because she [shows me] how good I can get at some math problems cause I’m not really that good at math.”

“It teaches you that you can do anything you want to do no matter what,” said another.

Were the students merely praising her for being a good teacher? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. She is a very loving person because she knows what it is like to be unloved. She grew up in an orphanage in Mexico and was passed over for adoption many times until her parents found her and took her into their hearts. She loves her students, especially those who struggle. Said Ms. Gannon:

“I’m doing what I wanted to do, what I love to do,” she said. “And if you set your mind to whatever you want to do and you love to do, then – go for it – no one can stop you.”

Before I forget, I should share that Mary Gannon was born without arms. She hugs her students even though she cannot “hug them.” Her heart does that for her.



You don’t have to be perfect to touch someone’s life. You have greatness in you beyond your imagination. Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t. Just like Myles, Carlos, Doris, and Mary; when you’re pinned against the wall, and you seemingly have no options, you discover how strong you really are. Helen Keller said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.




For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.