English subtitles

← Doing the impossible, cutting through fear | Dan Meyer | TEDxMaastricht

Get Embed Code
85 Languages

Showing Revision 24 created 05/23/2016 by TED Translators admin.

  1. Thank you.
  2. There once was a king in India, a Maharaja
    and for his birthday, a decree went out
  3. that all the chiefs should bring
    gifts fit for a king.
  4. Some brought fine silks,
    some brought fancy swords,
  5. some brought gold.
  6. At the end of the line came walking
    a very wrinkled little old man
  7. who'd walked up from his village
    many days journey by the sea.
  8. And as he walked up the king's son asked,
    "What gift do you bring for the King?"
  9. And the old man very slowly
    opened his hand to reveal
  10. a very beautiful seashell, with swirls
    of purple and yellow, red and blue.
  11. And the King's son said,
  12. "That's no gift for the King!
    What kind of gift is that?"
  13. The old man looked up
    at him slowly and said,
  14. "Long walk... part of gift."
  15. (Laughter)
  16. In a few moments,
    I'm going to give you a gift,
  17. a gift that I believe
    is a gift worth spreading.
  18. But before I do, let me take you on
  19. my long walk.
  20. Like most of you,
  21. I started life as a little kid.
  22. How many of you
    started life as a little kid?
  23. Born young?
  24. About half of you... Ok...
  25. (Laughter)
  26. And the rest of you, what?
    You were born full-grown?
  27. Boy, I want to meet your momma!
  28. Talk about impossible!
  29. As a little kid, I always had
    a fascination with doing the impossible.
  30. Today is a day I've been looking
    forward to for many years,
  31. because today is the day
    I'm going to attempt
  32. to do the impossible
    right before your very eyes,
  33. right here at TEDxMaastricht.
  34. I'm going to start
  35. by revealing the ending:
  36. And I'm going to prove to you
  37. that the impossible is not impossible.
  38. And I'm going to end
    by giving you a gift worth spreading:
  39. I'm going to show you that you can
    do the impossible in your life.
  40. In my quest to do the impossible,
    I've found that there are
  41. two things that are universal
    among people around the world.
  42. Everybody has fears,
  43. and everyone has dreams.
  44. In my quest to do the impossible,
    I've found there are three things
  45. that I've done over my years that have
  46. kind of caused me to do the impossible:
  47. Dodgeball, or as you call it "Trefbal",
  48. Superman,
  49. and Mosquito.
  50. Those are my three keywords.
  51. Now you know why
    I do the impossible in my life.
  52. So I'm going to take you
    on my journey, my long walk
  53. from fears to dreams,
  54. from words to swords,
  55. from Dodgeball
  56. to Superman
  57. to Mosquito.
  58. And I hope to show you
  59. how you can do the impossible
    in your life.
  60. October 4th, 2007.
  61. My heart was racing,
    my knees were shaking
  62. as I stepped out on stage
  63. at Sanders Theatre
  64. Harvard University to accept
  65. the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine
  66. for a medical research paper
    I'd co-written
  67. called "Sword Swallowing...
  68. ... and its Side Effects".
  69. (Laughter)
  70. It was published in a little journal
    that I'd never read before,
  71. the British Medical Journal.
  72. And for me, that was
    an impossible dream come true,
  73. it was an unexpected surprise
    for someone like me,
  74. it was an honor I will never ever forget.
  75. But it wasn't the most memorable
    part of my life.
  76. On October 4th, 1967,
  77. this scared, shy, skinny, wimpy kid
  78. suffered from extreme fears.
  79. As he got ready to step out on stage,
  80. his heart was racing,
  81. his knees were shaking.
  82. He went to open his mouth to speak,
  83. the words just would not come out.
  84. He stood trembling in tears.
  85. He was paralyzed in panic,
  86. frozen in fear.
  87. This scared, shy, skinny wimpy kid
  88. suffered from extreme fears.
  89. He had fear of the dark,
  90. fear of heights,
  91. fear of spiders and snakes...
  92. Any of you afraid of spiders and snakes?
  93. Yeah, a few of you...
  94. He had a fear of water and sharks...
  95. Fear of doctors and nurses and dentists,
  96. and needles and drills and sharp objects.
  97. But more than anything,
    he had a fear of
  98. people.
  99. That scared, shy skinny wimpy kid
  100. was me.
  101. I had a fear of failure and rejection,
  102. low self-esteem, inferiority complex,
  103. and something we didn't even know
    you could sign up for back then:
  104. social anxiety disorder.
  105. Because I had fears, the bullies
    would tease me and beat me up.
  106. They used to laugh and call me names,
    They never let me play in any of their
  107. reindeer games.
  108. Ah, there was one game
    they used to let me play in...
  109. Dodgeball -
  110. and I was not a good dodger.
  111. The bullies would call my name,
  112. and I'd look up
    and see these red dodge balls
  113. hurtling at my face at supersonic speeds
  114. bam, bam, bam!
  115. And I remember many days
    walking home from school,
  116. my face was red and stinging,
    my ears were red and ringing.
  117. My eyes were burning with tears,
  118. and their words were burning in my ears.
  119. And whoever said,
  120. "Sticks and stones can break my bones,
    but words will never hurt me"...
  121. It's a lie.
  122. Words can cut like a knife.
  123. Words can pierce like a sword.
  124. Words can make wounds that are so deep
  125. they can't be seen.
  126. So I had fears.
    And words were my worst enemy.
  127. Still are.
  128. But I also had dreams.
  129. I would go home
    and I'd escape to Superman comics
  130. and I'd read Superman comic books
  131. and I dreamed I wanted to be a superhero
    like Superman.
  132. I wanted to fight for truth and justice,
  133. I wanted to fight against
    villains and kryptonite,
  134. I wanted to fly around the world
    doing superhuman feats and saving lives.
  135. I also had a fascination
    with things that were real.
  136. I'd read Guinness Book of World Records
    and Ripley's Believe It or Not book.
  137. Any of you ever read Guinness
    Book of World Records or Ripley's?
  138. I love those books!
  139. I saw real people doing real feats.
  140. And I said, I want to do that.
  141. If the bullies will not let me
  142. play in any of their sports games,
  143. I want to do real magic, real feats.
  144. I want to do something really remarkable
    that those bullies can't do.
  145. I want to find my purpose and calling,
  146. I want to know that my life has meaning,
  147. I want to do something incredible
    to change the world;
  148. I want to prove
    the impossible is not impossible.
  149. Fast forward 10 years -
  150. It was the week before my 21st birthday.
  151. Two things happened in one day
    that would change my life forever.
  152. I was living in Tamil Nadu, South India
  153. I was a missionary there,
  154. and my mentor, my friend asked me,
  155. "Do you have Thromes, Daniel?"
  156. And I said, "Thromes?
    What are Thromes?"
  157. He said, "Thromes are major life goals.
  158. They're a combination
    of dreams and goals, like if you could
  159. do anything you want to do,
    go anyplace you want to go
  160. be anyone you want to be,
  161. where would you go?
    What would you do?
  162. Who'd you be?
  163. I said, "I can't do that!
    I'm too scared! I've got too many fears!"
  164. That night I took my rice mat
    up on the roof of the bungalow,
  165. laid out underneath the stars,
  166. and watched the bats dive bomb
    for mosquitoes.
  167. And all I could think about were thromes,
    and dreams and goals,
  168. and those bullies with the dodgeballs.
  169. A few hours later I woke up.
  170. My heart was racing,
    my knees were shaking.
  171. This time it wasn't with fear.
  172. My entire body was convulsing.
  173. And for the next five days
  174. I was in and out of consciousness,
    on my deathbed fighting for my life.
  175. My brain was burning up
    with 105 degree malaria fever.
  176. And whenever I was conscious,
    all I could think about were thromes.
  177. I thought,
    "What do I want to do with my life?"
  178. Finally, on the night before
    my 21st birthday,
  179. in a moment of clarity,
  180. I came to a realization:
  181. I realized that little mosquito,
  182. Anopheles Stephensi,
  183. that little mosquito
  184. that weighed less than 5 micrograms
  185. less than a grain of salt,
  186. if that mosquito could take out
    a 170 pound man, 80 kilo man,
  187. I realized that was my kryptonite.
  188. Then I realized,
    no, no, it's not the mosquito,
  189. It's the little parasite
    inside the mosquito,
  190. Plasmodium Falciparum,
    that kills over a million people a year.
  191. Then I realized
    No, no, it's even smaller than that,
  192. but to me, it seemed so much greater.
  193. I realized,
  194. fear was my kryptonite,
  195. my parasite,
  196. that had crippled
    and paralyzed me my entire life.
  197. You know, there's a difference
    between danger and fear.
  198. Danger is real.
  199. Fear is a choice.
  200. And I realized I had a choice:
  201. I could either live in fear,
    and die in failure that night,
  202. or I could put my fears to death,
    and I could
  203. reach for my dreams,
    I could dare to live life.
  204. And you know, there's something about
    being on your deathbed
  205. and facing death that actually
    makes you really want to live life.
  206. I realized everyone dies,
    not everyone really lives.
  207. It's in dying that we we live.
  208. You know, when you learn to die,
  209. you really learn to live.
  210. So I decided I was going to change
  211. my story that night.
  212. I did not want to die.
  213. So I prayed a little prayer, I said,
  214. "God, if you let me live
    to my 21st birthday,
  215. I will not let fear
    rule my life any longer.
  216. I'm going to put my fears to death,
  217. I'm going to reach for my dreams,
  218. I want to change my attitude,
  219. I want to do something incredible
    with my life,
  220. I want to find my purpose and calling,
  221. I want to know that the impossible
    is not impossible."
  222. I won't tell you if I survived that night;
    I'll let you figure that out for yourself.
  223. (Laughter)
  224. But that night I made my list
    of my first 10 Thromes:
  225. I decided I wanted to
    visit the major continents
  226. visit the 7 Wonders of the World
  227. learn a bunch of languages,
  228. live on a deserted island,
  229. live on a ship in the ocean,
  230. live with a tribe of Indians
    in the Amazon,
  231. climb to the top
    of the highest mountain in Sweden,
  232. I wanted to see Mount Everest at sunrise,
  233. to work in the music business
    in Nashville,
  234. I wanted to work with a circus,
  235. and I wanted to jump out of an airplane.
  236. Over the next twenty years,
    I accomplished most of those thromes.
  237. Every time I would
    check a throme off my list,
  238. I'd add 5 or 10 more onto my list
    and my list continued to grow.
  239. For the next seven years, I lived
    on a little island in the Bahamas
  240. for about seven years
  241. in a thatch hut,
  242. spearing sharks and stingrays to eat,
    the only one on the island,
  243. in a loincloth,
  244. and I got to learn to swim with sharks.
  245. And from there, I moved to Mexico,
  246. and then I moved
    to the Amazon River basin in Ecuador,
  247. Pujo Pongo Ecuador,
    lived with a tribe there,
  248. and little by little I began to gain
    confidence just by my thromes.
  249. I moved to the music business
    in Nashville, and then Sweden,
  250. moved to Stockholm,
    worked in the music business there,
  251. where I climbed the top of Mt. Kebnekaise
    high above the Arctic Circle.
  252. I learned clowning,
  253. and juggling,
  254. and stilt-walking,
  255. unicycle riding,
    fire eating, glass eating.
  256. In 1997 I heard there were
    less than a dozen sword swallowers left
  257. and I said, "I've got to do that!"
  258. I met a sword swallower,
    and I asked him for some tips.
  259. He said, "Yeah, I'll give you 2 tips:
  260. Number 1: It's extremely dangerous,
  261. People have died doing this.
  262. Number 2:
  263. Don't try it!"
  264. (Laughter)
  265. So I added it to my list of thromes.
  266. And I practiced
    10 to 12 times a day, every day
  267. for four years.
  268. Now I calculated those out...
  269. 4 x 365 [x 12]
  270. It was about 13,000
    unsuccessful attempts
  271. before I got my first sword
    down my throat in 2001.
  272. During that time I set a throme
  273. to become the world's leading expert
    in sword swallowing.
  274. So I searched for every book,
    magazine, newspaper article,
  275. every medical report,
    I studied physiology, anatomy,
  276. I talked with doctors and nurses,
  277. networked all the sword swallowers
  278. into the Sword Swallowers
    Association International,
  279. and conducted a 2-year
    medical research paper
  280. on Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects
  281. that was published
    in the British Medical Journal.
  282. (Laughter)
  283. Thank you.
  284. (Applause)
  285. And I learned some fascinating things
    about sword swallowing.
  286. Some things I bet you never thought
    about before, but you will after tonight.
  287. Next time you go home, and you're cutting
    your steak with your knife
  288. or a sword, or your "bestek",
    you'll think about this...
  289. I learned that sword swallowing
    started in India -
  290. right where I'd seen it first of all
    as a 20-year old kid -
  291. about 4000 years ago, about 2000 BC.
  292. Over the past 150 years,
    sword swallowers have been used
  293. in the fields of science and medicine
  294. to help develop
    the rigid endoscope in 1868
  295. by Dr. Adolf Kussmaul in Freiburg Germany.
  296. In 1906, the electrocardiogram in Wales,
  297. to study swallowing disorders,
    and digestion,
  298. bronchoscopes, that type of thing.
  299. But over the past 150 years,
  300. we know of hundreds of injuries
    and dozens of deaths...
  301. Here's the rigid endoscope
    that was developed by Dr. Adolf Kussmaul.
  302. But we discovered that there were
    29 deaths over the past 150 years
  303. including this sword swallower in London
    who impaled his heart with his sword.
  304. We also learned that there are from 3 to 8
  305. serious sword swallowing injuries
    each year.
  306. I know because I get the phone calls.
  307. I just had two of them,
  308. one from Sweden, and one from Orlando
    just over the past few weeks,
  309. sword swallowers who are in the hospital
    from injuries.
  310. So it is extremely dangerous.
  311. The other thing I learned is that
    sword swallowing takes
  312. from 2 years to 10 years
    to learn how to swallow a sword
  313. for many people.
  314. But the most fascinating discovery
    I learned was
  315. how sword swallowers learn
    to do the impossible.
  316. And I'm going to give you a little secret:
  317. Don't focus on the 99.9%
    that is impossible.
  318. You focus on that .1% that is possible,
    and figure out how to make it possible.
  319. Now let me take you on a journey
    into the mind of a sword swallower.
  320. In order to swallow a sword,
    it requires mind over matter meditation,
  321. razor-sharp concentration,
    pinpoint accuracy in order
  322. to isolate internal body organs
    and overcome automatic body reflexes
  323. through reinforced brain synopsis,
    through repeated muscle memory
  324. by deliberate practice
    of over 10,000 times.
  325. Now let me take you on a little journey
    into the body of a sword swallower.
  326. In order to swallow a sword,
  327. I have to slide the blade over my tongue,
  328. repress the gag reflex
    in the cervical esophagus,
  329. navigate a 90 degree turn
    down the epiglottis,
  330. go through the cricopharyngeal
    upper esophageal sphincter,
  331. repress the perystalsis reflex,
  332. slide the blade into the chest cavity
  333. between the lungs.
  334. At this point,
  335. I actually have to nudge my heart aside.
  336. If you watch very carefully,
  337. you can see the heart beat with my sword
  338. because it's leaning against the heart
  339. separated by about an eighth of an inch
    of esophageal tissue.
  340. That's not something you can fake.
  341. Then I have to slide it
    past the breastbone,
  342. past the lower esophageal sphincter,
    down into the stomach,
  343. repress the retch reflex in the stomach
    all the way down to the duodenum.
  344. Piece of cake.
  345. (Laughter)
  346. If I were to go further than that,
  347. all the way down to my Fallopian tubes.
    (Dutch) Fallopian tubes!
  348. Guys, you can ask your wives
    about that one later...
  349. People ask me, they say,
  350. "It must take a lot of courage
    in order to risk your life,
  351. to nudge your heart,
    and swallow a sword..."
  352. No. What takes real courage
  353. is for that scared, shy, skinny wimpy kid
  354. to risk failure and rejection,
  355. to bare his heart,
  356. and swallow his pride
  357. and stand up here in front
    of a bunch a total strangers
  358. and tell you his story
    about his fears and dreams,
  359. to risk spilling his guts,
    both literally and figuratively.
  360. You see - thank you.
  361. (Applause)
  362. You see, the really amazing thing is
  363. I've always wanted to do
    the remarkable in my life
  364. and now I am.
  365. But the really remarkable thing
    is not that I can swallow
  366. 21 swords at once,
  367. or 20 feet underwater in a tank
    of 88 sharks and stingrays
  368. for Ripley's Believe It or Not,
  369. or heated to 1500 degrees red hot
    for Stan Lee's Superhumans
  370. as a "Man of Steel"
  371. and that sucker was hot!
  372. Or to pull a car by sword for Ripley's,
  373. or Guinness,
  374. or make it on the finals
    of America's Got Talent,
  375. or win the 2007
    Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine.
  376. No, that's not
    the really remarkable thing.
  377. That's what people think.
    No, no, no. That's not it.
  378. The really remarkable thing
  379. is that God could take that scared,
    shy, skinny wimpy kid
  380. who was afraid of heights,
  381. who was afraid of water and sharks,
  382. and doctors and nurses
    and needles and sharp objects
  383. and speaking to people
  384. and now he's got me
    flying around the world
  385. at heights of 30,000 feet
  386. swallowing sharp objects
    underwater in tanks of sharks,
  387. and speaking to doctors and nurses
    and audiences like you around the world.
  388. That's the really amazing thing for me.
  389. I always wanted to do the impossible -
  390. Thank you.
  391. (Applause)
  392. Thank you.
  393. (Applause)
  394. I always wanted to do the impossible,
    and now I am.
  395. I wanted to do something remarkable
    with my life and change the world,
  396. and now I am.
  397. I always wanted to fly around the world
    doing superhuman feats
  398. and saving lives, and now I am.
  399. And you know what?
  400. There's still a small part
    of that little kid's big dream
  401. deep inside.
  402. (Laughter) (Applause)
  403. And you know, I always wanted to find
    my purpose and calling,
  404. and now I've found it.
  405. But guess what?
  406. It's not with the swords,
    not what you think, not with my strengths.
  407. It's actually with my weakness, my words.
  408. My purpose and calling
    is to change the world
  409. by cutting through fear,
  410. one sword at a time, one word at a time,
  411. one knife at a time, one life at a time,
  412. to inspire people to be superheroes
  413. and do the impossible in their lives.
  414. My purpose is to help others find theirs.
  415. What's yours?
  416. What's your purpose?
  417. What were you put here to do?
  418. I believe we're all
    called to be superheroes.
  419. What is your superpower?
  420. Out of a world population
    of over 7 billion people,
  421. there are less than a few dozen
    sword swallowers
  422. left around the world today,
  423. but there's only one you.
  424. You are unique.
  425. What is your story?
  426. What makes you different?
  427. Tell your story,
  428. even if your voice is thin and shaky.
  429. What are your thromes?
  430. If you could do anything,
    be anyone, go anywhere -
  431. What would you do?
    Where'd you go?
  432. What would you do?
  433. What do you want to do with your life?
  434. What are your big dreams?
  435. What were your big dreams as a little kid?
    Think back.
  436. I bet this wasn't it, was it?
  437. What were your wildest dreams
  438. that you thought were so strange
    and so obscure?
  439. I bet this makes your dreams look
    not so strange after all, doesn't it?
  440. What is your sword?
  441. Each one of you has a sword,
  442. a double-edged sword of fears and dreams.
  443. Swallow your sword, whatever it might be.
  444. Follow your dreams, ladies and gentlemen,
  445. It's never too late to be
    whatever you wanted to be.
  446. For those bullies with the dogdeballs,
    those kids who thought
  447. that I would never do the impossible,
  448. I've got just one thing to say to them:
  449. Thank you.
  450. Because if it weren't for villains,
    we wouldn't have superheroes.
  451. I'm here to prove
    the impossible is not impossible.
  452. This is extremely dangerous,
    It could kill me.
  453. I hope you enjoy it.
  454. (Laughter)
  455. I'm going to need your help with this one.
  456. Audience: Two, three.
  457. Dan Meyer: No, no, no. I need your help
    on the counting part, all of you, ok?
  458. (Laughter)
  459. If you know the words? Ok?
    Count with me. Ready?
  460. One.
  461. Two.
  462. Three.
  463. No, that's 2, but you've got the idea.
  464. Audience: One.
  465. Two.
  466. Three.
  467. (Gasping)
  468. (Applause)
  469. DM: Yeah!
  470. (Applause) (Cheers)
  471. Thank you very much.
  472. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
  473. Actually, thank you
    from the bottom of my stomach.
  474. I told you I came here to do
    the impossible, and now I have.
  475. But this was not the impossible.
    I do this every day.
  476. The impossible thing was for that scared,
    shy, skinny wimpy kid to face his fears,
  477. to stand up here on a [TEDx] stage,
  478. and to change the world,
    one word at a time,
  479. one sword at a time, one life at a time.
  480. If I've made you think in new ways,
    if I've made you believe
  481. the impossible is not impossible,
  482. if I've made you realize that you can
    do the impossible in your life,
  483. then my job is done,
    and yours is just beginning.
  484. Never stop dreaming. Never stop believing.
  485. Thank you for believing in me
  486. and thanks for being part of my dream.
  487. And here's my gift to you:
  488. The impossible is not...
  489. Audience: Impossible.
  490. Long walk part of gift.
  491. (Applause)
  492. Thank you.
  493. (Applause)
  494. (Cheering)
  495. Host: Thank you, Dan Meyer, wow!