Posts tagged with "Lex Gillette"

REMOVE THE BLINDFOLD

Listen, I love getting on stage and speaking in front of audiences of all sizes. During a competition, I’m able to communicate with a crowd, however, that communication is nonverbal. Spectators are able to see my hard work, my grit and determination, my love for track and field. When I’m behind a microphone on stage, I now have the opportunity to articulate in words what goes on in sport and in life. I get to express the true meaning of what I do, and why I do it. It’s so so much fun to be in that position.

What really gets me going is when I have the opportunity to utilize experiential learning activities to teach participants a lesson. In these moments, I’ve discovered that I learn just as much, if not more, than the actual participants. This was the case last week when I had the privilege of working with some high level Walmart executives.

The Walmart team was comprised of about 18-19 people and they were eager to get an idea of what we would be doing. Wesley and I gave a brief introduction, and afterwards, we took to the track to give them a taste of the “guide running experience”. In this activity, one person acts as the sighted guide, and the other person is the blind folded athlete. The two have to be connected at the hand with a tether, just as we would in a Paralympic race. On your mark! Set! Go! The pairs then walk, jog, or run from the starting line to the finish line. I can imagine that this is a sight to see.

At the conclusion of the activity, we debrief. How did you feel having to run with a blind fold on? Was it frightening? Why? As the guide, exactly how difficult was your role? How did your communication change during this activity? The answers that I hear are very interesting, but this one really blew me away.

Someone mentioned how there are times where you expect a person to see things how you see them, and for whatever reason, they don’t. It’s like a blindfold is covering their eyes. Those words echoed in my mind. How many times have we expected others to automatically understand where we’re coming from, our thoughts, and our prospective? A lot. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work like that. We sometimes need a guide, that person who will connect with us and help us gain understanding. It takes patience. Communication helps also. We can’t assume that people are seeing what we see because there are times when they are behind the blindfold. Offering insight surrounding your prospective helps eliminate confusion and increase discernment. So the next time you expect someone to see a situation as you do and they don’t, take a moment and recognize that this is your opportunity to help remove the blindfold.

A DAY WITH MY CLASSROOM CHAMPIONS!

Since 2014, I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor for Classroom Champions, an organization whose mission is to educate students nationwide on the importance of pertinent life skills like goal setting, perseverance, courage, and healthy living. Each month, I record a 3-5 minute video focusing on the topic for that month, and I speak on how that particular skill is incorporated in my own life. At the end of each video, I give my students a challenge. That gives them the chance to implement that skill into their own lives. That video is then made available to the classrooms around the country that I have been assigned to. My students will then send to me anything from video responses, Powerpoints, to essays, outlining the work that they did to apply the monthly theme to their lives. Classroom Champions lasts for the duration of the school year, and as you can imagine, those final days of school make it really tough to say good-bye to the students.

Toward the latter part of the school year, some classes are fortunate enough to receive an in-person visit from their mentor, and this year, I was the lucky guy who got to visit my students who attend Oak Grove Elementary in medford, Oregon. Listen, these classroom visits are so exciting and full of energy. After exchanging videos and having live Skype calls during the school year, meeting in person brings the mentor-student relationship full circle. As soon as you walk in the door, it feels as though you’re simply catching up with old friends. This classroom visit was nothing short of amazing! Check out this article that gives a great illustration of the day that I spent with my students of Oak Grove. I’m very fortunate to be apart of such a great organization. Always remember that kids really do have what it takes, they just need someone in their corner to help them see their potential.

OF COURSE PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND CAN HIKE!

Do you remember the first time you went hiking? Was it an easy trail, or one of the harder ones? Did you have to be very careful of loose rocks under your feet? Did you have to climb steep hills? Hiking can be challenging. Now, imagine yourself going on a hike without the ability to see. You’re blind. However, you have the verbal assistance of an AIRA agent to help you navigate along the path.

If you were wondering, AIRA is a company that uses smart glasses or your phone’s camera to provide verbal feedback on your surroundings. So, with the press of a button on my phone, I can be connected to a human agent who then has the ability to see where I am through the smart glasses or phone camera. That agent can then provide me with verbal feedback that helps me achieve virtually any task. On this day, I wanted to go on a hike on San Miguel Ranch, so I hit up AIRA, informed my agent on what I was wanting to do, and the next thing you know, we were on our way.

With the help of my agent Windell, I was able to climb over large rocks, lunge up steep hills, and weave back and forth along the trail. Although Windell’s voice was coming through my phone, I still felt as though he was right there with me as I climbed higher and higher up the mountain. Eventually, a flag came into view. I was almost to the top. I could feel it! After a few more paces, I stretched out my cane and tapped it against the flag pole. I did it! Here’s a six minute video of my journey up Mount San Miguel.

That is just one of the things that AIRA can help the blind and visually impaired community achieve. You can call up an agent and get help with reading your mail, going grocery shopping, exploring a museum, or playing corn hole. Do you want to take pictures that can be used on your social media platforms? AIRA agents can take screen shots and save them to your profile that can then be shared with others. The possibilities are endless! Here’s the thing, whenever I step onto the podium at a major competition, there’s a certain feeling that moves through my body. It’s a feeling of achievement, knowing that I accomplished the goal that I had in mind. That’s the same feeling I received when I made it to the top of that mountain. We all can’t be athletes, but we all can feel that sense of achievement. Our environment may change, but the feeling remains the same. Set out to conquer a task and see how amazing it feels to prevail, to accomplish, to achieve. It’s a feeling that you will want to experience over, and over, and over again. I promise you!

WORKOUT OVERVIEW FEBRUARY 2018

I want to win a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games for Team USA. It’s that simple. The vision is so strong that sometimes I literally space out and imagine someone placing the medal around my neck, handing me flowers, and raising that American flag high for all to see. The icing on the cake would be hearing the national anthem echo throughout the Paralympic stadium. That’s what I want, and that’s what I’m training to achieve. I understand that it’s not easy, but it’ll certainly be worth it in the end. Here’s a little peak of the work that I put in from the month of February. Enjoy!

SHOTS IN THE DARK

Nothing excites me more than a challenge. I love being faced with a task that forces me to think outside of the box, and develop strategies to accomplish a goal. After all, it’s through challenges that we are able to see what we’re capable of doing, and who we’re capable of becoming. With all that being said, although I’m a long jumper, I love trying other sports. Occasionally, I’ll grab a friend and we’ll head to the court and shoot baskets. Typically my friends will stand under the rim and yell to me to let me know where I should aim for the shot. It’s pretty similar to how Wesley calls me in the long jump. I’m listening to someone giving me an idea of where the rim is, and I have to focus on where that target might be. It’s a challenge, but I absolutely love it! View the video within this post to see how my latest trip to the court went.

 

 

 

The True Meaning of My Tagline

No Need for Sight When You Have a Vision® is a slogan that has been the driving force for my entire life. It was ten years ago when I actually created the mantra, and it was one that seemed to fit me perfectly, but what does it truly mean? Well I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you.

Many people automatically look to the elephant in the room. A person who is blind is able to still have a vision for success and live a prosperous and impactful life. yeah, that’s true, but my slogan is a message that speaks to more than just the blind community. It speaks to all.

“No Need for Sight” literally means that sight isn’t necessary. It doesn’t say “No Want for Sight”. I’ve been blind for almost 25 years now, and there are things that I “want” to see, but do I “need” to see those things in order to press forward in life? No. Needs and wants are two totally different things. “When You Have a Vision” speaks to a  bridge that connects us. What happens when you have a vision? You gain strength. You begin to see things for yourself, and those around you, that aren’t yet in existence. Your focus shifts, and you begin to see past your current reality. You become connected to so much more in life, and some of those connections will be to people and things that you would’ve never thought of in your wildest dreams.

So here it is. A vision is not meant to benefit you only. A true vision is meant to positively impact the lives of many. A real authentic vision will help create a community, and help transform the minds of everyone within that community. When you have a community, you’re able to compensate for those things that you personally may not have as someone will have your back. Most people will think that the overwhelming circumstances will weigh you down, but you will rise above them, because of the vision.

When people read, No Need for Sight When You Have a Vision®, they might initially believe that vision is what guides the path of the blind, but keep in mind that there are those who are identified medically as being blind, and there are those who walk around with their eyes wide open and still fail to see. Helen Keller once said “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, and no vision.” So my slogan is a message for us all, a challenge for us all. Whether you’re battling with blindness literally, or battling with it figuratively, having a vision is the key. Can you see past your current reality, your current struggles, your current circumstances? Better yet, can you see past your current reality that may already be marked by success, and see even more great things off in the distance? Your sight may reveal to you images that you may not want to realize, but if you can think beyond the horizon, see beyond the horizon, then you have what it takes to transform your reality. That’s the power that lies in having a vision.