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Turning 'Can't' Into 'Can' And 'Did'

Robert Daniel

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I completed the Landmark Forum in Perth, Western Australia in 2002.

I had ‘stuff’ going on like everyone else, but it wasn't major. There were people dealing with mind blowing life issues, and while they didn't dilute what I felt I had to deal with, they put mine into perspective.

The Landmark Forum is for people who are up to things in their lives, who know there's something more they can do and reach out to look for it.

So I dealt with my Father dying when I was 14, and not being able to stop that or say goodbye. The grief, the regret. It was staggering being able to stand up and share that, and people cried with me, as I empathised and cried with them.

And then the commitment, stolen/borrowed from my beautiful wife Paula who had done the Landmark Forum a year before and had made the same commitment.

To make a profound, positive difference in the lives of young people. Added to this I told everyone I would become a children's author and travel around schools making the kind of difference I wanted to see in the world.

It would be trite to say everything turned around and from then on it was easy. It wasn't. It isn't. But I've learnt this. To have a life you truly love, we must do what we are passionate about doing.

Five years later I have a two month schools tour of Perth and Sydney booked out, with three presentations a day in creative writing, advanced memory systems and self-esteem. I run an online creative studio for writers and illustrators of all ages and create children's stories in e-book format. Many of these are to be published as hard copies.

I have worked in many schools doing what I said I would do and trusting the process, following the path where it leads even if it has looked to be going in an odd direction.

I toured the wild South West of Australia last year and it was extraordinary. I say wild, because the distances between places in this country are huge.

The possibilities I created that day five years ago have all come true. At the time they looked impossible.

I wasn't a qualified teacher then and I am not one now, even though I have an agent who books me into schools around the country. It has been the results that have allowed me to do this, and the ongoing commitment to make that difference I said I was here to make. It is all in the being.

I am lucky this year to be going to Sydney with collaborator and friend Dave McCleery, an Irish cartoonist and illustrator who has worked with me in schools before. He also did the Landmark Forum when he came to Australia for a visit three years ago.

‘Stuff’ happens when we're in classrooms together. I don't know where it all comes from, and I don't need to know. Creative sparks fly and the children we work with shine, and so do we. I don't know who gets more, them or us.

The future has a world tour of schools in it, and a series of best selling books. The new possibilities are just opening up, but in front of them are the usual gang of obstacles that conspire to block the way.

Children are deciding earlier and earlier that they are not good enough, cannot do what ‘everyone else’ can do and too many stop trying. It is a big job to put the brakes on this because it has so deeply been ingrained since children were little.

When kids of seven and eight years are angrily saying ‘No, I cant’ then something isn't working. Demonstrating to them that they can, and they can do it easily, is a moment of revelation in a classroom we never get tired of.

We will go anywhere to do this. Just ask us, and we'll find a way. That isn't to say that all the self doubts and ‘waiting to be caught out’ aren't still there on a daily basis, but it's good to have the life tools with which to deal with the incessant clatter of voices inside the head.

Which brings me to the secret of life.

It is so simple. We must hear it many times every year but dismiss it as being irrelevant.

Search out and do the thing in life that makes you want to jump out of bed every day to get started. Turn that into a job, a business, a vocation, and never let anyone talk you out of it.

Is it that simple?

Yes. There will be a million excuses why it cannot be done, but none of these excuses will ever invalidate that simple truth.

I am a children’s author living in Albany Western Australia.

I tour schools running creative writing, self-esteem and advanced memory techniques workshops, and run an online creative studio for everyone who would like to join in at:


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