THE DIFFERENCE ONE LIFE CAN MAKE-LES BROWN; FROM BEING LABELED “EDUCABLE MENTALLY RETARDED” TO BECOMING ONE OF THE BEST PROFESSIONAL SPEAKERS IN THE WORLD.
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss but because they aim too low and hit”
- LES BROWN.
Les Brown who fondly concludes all his speeches with the statement, “This is Mamie Brown’s baby boy” was born with his twin brother on the floor of an abandoned building in Miami and three weeks later Mrs. Mamie Brown adopted the twins. Mrs. Mamie Brown with no husband worked as a cafeteria cook, maid and fruit picker. Les Brown was raised in Overtown and Liberty City, the poorest neighborhood of Miami, though the family was impoverished he grew up with lots of love and disciplined training from his adoptive mother.
As a youngster, Les Brown was a poor student because he had trouble with poor concentration. Consequently, he was labeled, “educable mentally retarded” in the fifth grade because of his hyperactive nature and poor performance in class. He bought into the label placed upon him by believing in it and this belief limited and placed a ceiling on his performance as he flunked twice and always on the verge of being thrown out through his grade school years. Even though Les had a poor performance in school, through his mum’s belief in him he subconsciously believed and dreamt of greatness. This conviction caused him to live above the lives of drugs, alcohol or criminal behavior even though he grew up around drug and alcohol abusers.
As a youngster, he had an encounter with Mr. Washington who was the school’s speech and drama teacher who believed the best in him and pulled out the best in him. Mr. Washington worked with Les on developing his speaking voice as he always had a childhood dream of becoming an orator of some sort.
Les was desirous to get into broadcasting even while working to earn a living as a city sanitation worker on Miami Beach. He developed a plan of action by first seeking out mentors and getting into the corridors of broadcasting and he actually did get a choice at becoming a disc jockey. As he was advancing in his career as a disc jockey, one of his friends, Mike Williams counseled and encouraged Les to make greater use of his talents, he believed that he could become a voice for good rather than simply a voice for good times. With his encouragement Les engaged himself as a social commentator and community activist; the owners of the radio station felt he had become too controversial and fired him.
Les became interested in the political arena and had the goal of becoming a legislative. He plunged himself in focused preparation as he had done when he wanted to venture into broadcasting. With adequate preparation, learning, and listening he won the Twenty-ninth House District. He was ambitious about running for the State Senate when his adoptive mother became ill due to food poisoning and Les decided to resign from the legislation to care or tend for his adoptive mother. In his words, “It was not much of a decision on my part. I had to be with her and help her through it. My mother had a low tolerance for the winters of Ohio, so I resigned from public office and moved back to Liberty City to care for her. I was concerned about supporting myself and those dependent upon me, but I knew that I owed whatever I had become and would become to my Mama.”
Les Brown discovered that he loved talking to people; he took pleasure in making them feel good and contributing to their understanding of themselves. He was enthusiastic about the work but apart from that, he had nothing going for him to become a professional public speaker. He dreamt of becoming a professional public speaker but he knew virtually nothing about the business. Les got to work on his dreams; he found books on public speaking and read everything he could find on the topic. He joint organizations for public speakers. He studied the best speakers. He talked with speakers about their work, he asked them about their secrets; they all emphasized on practice. Les Brown volunteered to speak everywhere and anywhere that speaking opportunities were available. He worked on his dream consistently.
Les Brown had prostate cancer and was given two years to live by doctors. In response he communicated with himself, “I will beat this; I am more than this; I will beat this at the cellular level”. He listened to healing tapes and meditated on the words. He went to every person he knew that had conquered cancer to hear their testimony. It’s well over a decade and still counting; Les Brown is still alive whole and hearty-cancer free and is accomplishing his dreams like never before.
LES BROWN AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:
Council of Peers Award of Excellence
National Speakers Association, 1989
Regional Emmy Award (Chicago), 1991, for the program, You Deserve with Les Brown
Selected as one of America’s top five speakers, Toastmasters International, 1992.
LIFE’S LESSONS TO LIVE BY:
- You must travel light in order to reach the “land” of your dreams. To travel light, you must drop all emotional baggage and avoid the memory lane of the hurtful past to move on from the past and move into maximizing the present and move ahead into the future of your dreams. Les Brown forgave his biological parents for abandoning him and moved on with his life.
- Never live with a sticker that gets stuck in a rut by succumbing to the label sticker that the society or people may attach to your life. But rather get to discover the root issues of your performance and deal with it. Les Brown was labeled “educable mentally retarded” but that was a falsified belief that became his reality until he gained self-discovery. He was affected with poor concentration if he could concentrate he could have had excellent performance in school.
- Utilize your gifts for higher purposes.
- Success leaves clues when you do not have any clue on how to actualize your dreams; seek out mentors and learn from those who have accomplished success in your field of endeavor or the area of life that you are interested in-learn what to do and what not to do.
- Dreams void of action is just a daydream; develop plans and get to work on your dreams daily.
- You can gain mastery in any field of endeavor even when you know nothing or little about it by reading books and learning from the experts in the field; learning and practice are the watchwords of mastery.
- “You have to look at what you value most. I was in a position of leadership and considerable power in the legislature, but the people who find it hard to give up that kind of power are those who identify closely with it. I don’t define myself by titles.”- Les Brown.
Make relationships your priority in life and value love, commitment and sacrifice.
- If you want to experience health, wealth, happiness and success in every aspect of your life then you must change your self-talk or internal communication which begins from the thought level which is the seed of your life. And seeds (thoughts) determine the kind of fruits (results) you produce in life.
Ponder on this:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never started, the cures that were never discovered all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem or determined to carry out their dream.”
- LES BROWN