Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk
I’ve stumbled across a term recently which I feel perfectly summarises what I try to do every day, as both a professional speaker and inclusion advocate. It explains the language that I often use, the certain clothes that I wear, and yes – it even explains the moustache. It’s called Social Engineering. Social engineering is the act of ‘tricking’ someone into divulging information or taking action, usually through technology. It’s a phrase commonly associated with the world of ‘hackers’ – individuals who manipulate people into handing over their personal information so they can empty their bank accounts, steal their identity, or any other kind of low-life act. Ok sure, on the surface it has quite a negative connotation. So why would I associate what I do to social engineering? When you take it away from its origins, social engineering is simply a way of taking advantage of people’s natural tendencies and emotional reactions. My whole life is about changing people’s expectations of me: a guy in a wheelchair. Society has long held the notion that having a disability is a negative thing. That people living with a disability are somewhat inferior or lesser-than those with ability. We’re not as smart. We can’t have a job or earn our own money. We can’t have a family. Essentially, we can’t have a fulfilling life. So I wear the loud clothes, I grow an impeccable moustache and I live a largely independent life. I do these things on purpose because I want to challenge people’s preconceived notions about what disability should look and act like. I want people to look at me and think “huh, I wasn’t expecting that”. To me, that’s social engineering: I’m constructing a narrative by narrowing in on what my audience is looking for and then blowing it to smithereens. It’s something I’m quite passionate about, particularly as a professional speaker. I believe that if you are fortunate enough to be asked – heck, paid! – to stand in front of an audience and speak to them on a topic of your expertise, then you owe it to yourself to do it properly. Authenticity is essential in my line of work; people can smell bullsh!t from a mile away. Forgetting this is the worst thing you can do as a professional speaker and yet, it’s such a common mistake. To me, authenticity means walking the walk (if you excuse the pun). Talking about a topic isn’t enough, you need to socially engineer a way to amplify the message through all your actions to get it across properly. I didn’t start off my journey trying to socially construct a new narrative for people living with a disability. I was one of the millions who believed the silly notion that living in with a disability meant you lived a life less full. I’m happy to admit I was SO WRONG. Now, I take it upon myself to help change that narrative. For others to learn from my mistake. Because I tell you, my life is far better now than before my accident. I’m happy, healthy, I have a great wife and kid.
Life is really, really good. And I make sure to bring that energy into every public speaking event I’m privileged to be invited to, to challenge people’s preconceived notions and hopefully begin a new narrative. If you haven’t already, give us a like or a follow on social media! Facebook https://www.facebook.com/30footdrop LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/18812977/admin/ Twitter https://twitter.com/30footdrop?lang=en Instagram https://www.instagram.com/30footdrop/ YouTube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=30+foot+drop If you really like us, why not share our blogs with your friends and family. Even better, tell us which blogs you like or suggest a topic you’d like to know more about – we’d love to hear from you!