True Growth - The Natural Choice in Leader Development
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Kenny's Story

Byrd Baggett

September 2014

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On!" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

A friend of mine, Kenneth Tedford, tells a childhood story. Kenny was declared "mentally retarded" in his earlier years. His mother, an alcoholic, died when Kenny was 8 years old. His adoptive mother loved him, but his adoptive father was embarrassed to have him around. One day, during a class in elementary school, the teacher asked the children to draw a stick picture depicting what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Pictures of doctors, nurses, policemen and firemen were posted all around the room. Kenny's picture was one with the "stick" person standing next to a podium with an American Flag in the background. When Kenny explained that he wanted to be a motivational speaker and make people feel good, the teacher responded, "But Kenny you know you can't do that, you're retarded!"

Kenny's response was, "Well, you're a teacher and you're not real smart!" The teacher immediately sent Kenny to the principal's office for punishment. The teacher explained the situation and left Kenny alone with the principal. The principal got down on one knee and, looking directly into Kenny's eyes, stated, "Kenny, that teacher is a very cruel person, and I know that you can be whatever you dream to be."

Later, during a series of tests, Kenny was found to be legally deaf, not retarded. Kenny is now a successful motivational speaker, stand-up comedian and has authored several children's books!

True Growth Takeaway: Don't quit before the blessing!

True Growth Journaling Question: In what area of your life do you need to be more resilient? If Kenny could, you can!

About the author: Byrd Baggett is a best-selling author and popular motivational speaker. He has been helping organizations develop authentic leaders and passionately engaged teams since 1990. His corporate experience includes sales and management careers with two Fortune 500 companies. He is a Member of LWM III Consulting LLC and the creator of the True Growth brand. Byrd is the author of 15 best-selling books on the topics of sales, customer service, leadership and motivation. A former All American sprinter at the University of Texas at Austin, Byrd is also a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest earned designation presented by the National Speakers Association. Jeanne is his wife and best friend and they have been blessed with three children; Ashley, Amy and Austin.

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