‘HOW DOES IT FEEL TO RUN ON TWO FEET?’
I’m not saying everything is possible but you don’t know it’s impossible till you know what is possible Nick Vujicic
Born with a rare disorder, Nick Vujicic, bestselling author and motivational speaker, inspires people all over the world with his account of how he turned a life without limbs into a life without limits. Vujicic was here in Muscat to speak at the Global Leadership Forum hosted by Smart Waves International on Wednesday at Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Excerpts from an interview with Muscat Daily
This is your second visit to Oman. What changes do you see since 2011?
I just flew in on Monday night so I can’t say anything about that, but I’m very sad to hear about the passing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Hope is universal and everyone needs motivation from time to time. There are times when one chapter closes and another one opens and so I am happy to be here to try and inspire people in Oman once again. And I’m very glad for their welcome.
What impressions did you take back from your first visit to Oman?
I loved the people. They’re very hospitable, kind and welcoming. It’s been a while since I’ve been here but I’m very thankful to be invited here when the world is going through many struggles and turbulences but Oman has continued to be a stable and welcoming country.
But there have been other changes since your last visit. You’ve described yourself as prince charming with bits and pieces missing. You’re now married. How is married life?
Married life is amazing. Every week that I’m home, we go out on a weekly date. We have time together, away from the children. We love our children. We have two sons – seven and four year old boys – and twin girls who are two years old. I’m very thankful to be a father and a husband and I look forward to the future when as the children grow older, we are able to travel around the world. I would like them to experience the world, meet people and submerse our family in different cultures and setting and experience the beautiful world that we live in. But they must also recognise the fact that there are many people in need. It’s not about what we have but making sure that we can give back to people who have less than us.
What kind of activities do you like to do with the children?
We love swimming, playing soccer and different games and watching movies. As they ride their bikes, I ride my wheel chair next to them. We’re blessed to be in California, so we love going to the beach from time to time.
Is there any activity that an able-bodied person can do which you can’t and miss doing?
Definitely. I’ve adapted many things, like fishing – I can fish on my own. I’ve also learnt how to surf on my own. But one thing I would love to know how it feels is to run on my own two feet. I would love to know that feeling one day.
You’ve presented talks in many countries. How many and is there one country that you haven’t yet been to and keen to?
I’ve been to 74 countries. I’m looking forward to visiting Scotland. There’s a lot of history there. And a lot of the movies that I like – such as Braveheart - are shot there. That would be an interesting country to visit for sure.
In every couple there’s one habit in one person that ticks off the other. What habit of yours ticks off your wife Kanae Miyahara?
You’ll have to ask her because it’s a habit and so I probably even don’t notice.
Any habit in her that annoys you?
No! I wouldn’t even try and… no, we’re good.
What’s the most insensitive question you’ve ever been asked?
It was on a television programme. The interviewer was saying something like, ‘It’s amazing that you can have children. You have no arms and legs’, and I said, I don’t think you need arms and legs to have children. That was awkward more than anything. But I don’t really hold them; I don’t keep a memory bank of them. I keep on
going. If you hold on to those kinds of things, you can’t really go forward. I deliberately let it be erased.
So what is God’s plan for you?
God’s plan for me is to go around the world and sow seeds of hope, faith and love. To inspire positive change and empower people with perspective, provoke thoughts of purpose-filled activities in life and focus in life. Many people have arms and legs but don’t know what to do with them. Many people have everything but still feel empty inside. I try and provoke thought and perspective in people’s lives to have an attitude of gratitude, to be thankful for what you have, and also know that if you put your happiness in temporary things, you’re happiness will be temporary. And I try helping people understand that there is a greater purpose to life; it’s not just about having but also giving back and loving everyone.
I’m very thankful to go around the world and share my story. I’m not saying that I’m more inspiring than anybody else.
When people see a limbless man smile, their thought is what does this man have that I don’t, what does he know that I don’t know, how can he be happy like that? And when they see the genuine and authentic joy and spirit for life, they are curious about it.
I share my story of how I have overcome my obstacles of fear, depression and how I turned my life – if you will – from life without limbs to life without limits. I’m not saying everything is possible but you don’t know it’s impossible till you know what is possible. I help people reach their full potential.
I’m not more special than anybody else. We all have our stories. Just because I have a platform, I’m a speaker or I am wellknown, it doesn’t mean that my story is more important or more powerful than others’. I believe it’s worse being in a broken home than being without arms and legs.
When you speak, especially with children, you have them in splits with self-deprecating jokes one moment but then they are in tears the very next.
I guess I’m a connector. I connect with people, whether it’s a big audience or a small audience. I’ve tried for many years to be the best communicator that I can be to engage people in my talks. To have a significant effect on the audience, at one stage of the speech they have to be open and vulnerable. Normally, in order to do that, you have to touch their heart first. Humour opens up the heart. People become more comfortable around me and think, ‘If he can make fun of himself, then I can be relaxed. He’s not here to make me feel sorry for him or it’s not going to be a burdensome session. It’ll be uplifting an inspiring.’
Do you feel that there’s too much expectation from you?
Yes, from time to time. When I’m in public places, I can’t go incognito. So I have to be on it always. I have bad days, days when I’m tired, when I’m in an airport and jetlagged, there are many people who want photos. So I have the fear of disappointing people. I feel like the world is on my shoulders sometimes. But because of my faith and belief in God who has given me this opportunity, I believe he’ll also help me carry and sustain me through it.
You are expected to say something that will inspire and motivate people always. You are, after all, human. Do you feel the pressure?
It’s because I believe in my message that I can say it. It’s one of the best jobs in the world, because even though it feels difficult at times, I get to meet people who tell me they have seen my videos and been inspired by my story. That’s when I realise that what I’m doing has an impact and that is very encouraging.