DEMARTINI INSPIRES POLLSMOOR PRISONERS WITH HIS OWN ADVERSITY
"Don't allow what happened in your past determine your future". These were the inspiring words of Dr John Demartini to hundreds of orange-clad men and women prisoners at the Pollsmoor Prison while in Cape Town recently.
The world's foremost authority on human behaviour accepted an invitation by correctional services officer, Richard Thomas, who said he had been following the Dr's work for many years.
At first it was difficult for the prisoners to imagine how this impeccably groomed man was not from an advantaged background. But as he delved into his past and unfolded his story of overwhelming adversity, you could see the prisoners faces physically soften as they began to relate to his earlier hardships. He spoke of his learning disabilities and a physical deformity, dropping out of school, his days as a surfing ‘bum', living on the streets, panhandling to survive, experimenting with drugs and a near-death experience.
Spontaneous applause erupted very early in the talk when he completed this statement: "We all have something amazing and incredible inside of us and we are all capable of extraordinary things. Every one of us has a dream, a vision and a mission to make a difference. I am certain that no matter what you have been through, no matter what you have done and no matter where you have come from - that deep inside everyone of you - there is a desire to make a difference in this world."
He urged them to be masters of their destiny instead of being victims of their history and he explained that those with a vision flourish and those without perish. "Hold onto a dream of making a difference and who's to say you can't go on to make a real success of your lives. The moment you value you - the world values you. Give yourself permission to access your greatness."
He advised them to stop and think, at the end of each day, of everything they have to be grateful for. "You really have to look sometimes. It may be that a fellow prisoner befriended you, that you are alive, or that you still hold a dream for yourself. If you are grateful - you will get more to be grateful for."
Demartini added that prison does not have to be a stumbling block. "Look at the most challenged people who go onto do the most extraordinary things with their lives. Sometimes adversity and anger fuel amazing accomplishment."
Encouraged and captivated by this man, who had triumphed over his own harsh beginnings, the prisoners wanted to hear so much more. He ended by saying: "Remember that whatever you have done or not done - the truth is - you are still worthy of love."
In a session earlier in the morning he had addressed the correctional services officers. His message to them was different: "Don't underestimate the significance of what you do."
He told them: "You probably work long hours, don't earn the pay you hope for, put up with poor working conditions and don't get much appreciation, but millions of South Africans live their lives in safety because of what you do each day."
He then reminded them of their contribution to the people in this facility. "Many of them don't know how to empower their lives. You are here to help them - to give them hope, by exemplification, by giving them feedback, by believing in their possibility far more than they believe in themselves. Otherwise they will give up on themselves and their hopelessness will turn to helplessness. Look deep inside and document your contribution and you will realise you do more than you ever imagined."
He ended by saying: "Never forget the mission of this organization and be part of that mission. If everyone works as a team towards the mission, it will be like a freight train with momentum - you can't stop it."
It appears there's no stopping Demartini. He dedicates 360 days of every year to travelling, researching, writing, teaching so he can share his vast knowledge on human behavior and potential with people in every corner of the globe.
He says he has a soft spot for South Africa because he gets opportunities like this one to make even a small difference in the lives of people who need inspiring the most.
Demartini is no stranger to social work in South Africa. He spoke at Krugersdorp prison late last year and has been a regular speaker to hundreds of police personnel across the country.
Special thank you to Richard Thomas (Above) for standing up at the Finewoman conference and voicing his vision to make a difference in Pollsmoor Prison. Without his intention none of this would have been possible.