is a bestselling author, speaker and resilience expert who has coached
and led personal development seminars for over 90,000 people since 1995.
could share 500 words of wisdom to summarize what I've learned so far in
life, these are the important things I'd want to pass along to
As a teenager, I
traveled overseas with nothing but an over-packed suitcase and a dream
of leaving the remote Colorado horse ranch of my childhood for the big
No sooner did I land in France
than a man with a big, very nice-looking camera around his neck
approached me. He said he could make me a model. He promised me an
exciting life of big-city living and a future that sounded too good to
pass up, so I went with him and his friend.
They drugged me, took me to an
abandoned construction site, beat me and raped me. They dumped me in a
park in Nice three days later.
I didn't tell my family; I
didn't tell my friends; I couldn't. I felt ruined, and if anyone knew
what happened, they'd know that about me. Understandably, I became very
aloof. I became a loner. Over time I began to feel completely
disconnected from people; I even felt disconnected from myself.
I did become a model and
traveled the world alone for my job, which suited me just fine; I never
had to connect with anyone on a deep level. One November morning, I
walked down the street in New York City and saw someone in Times Square
with a sign, "Repent or go to hell!" I thought to myself, "I'm already
In that moment, it became clear I needed to start over again.
I realized that my being jaded
and wary and dead was not punishing the men in France; it was punishing
me. They took enough from me. I decided not to let them take any more
from me than they already had.
So, I decided to just do
something. What? I had no idea; I simply decided to do whatever
presented itself and to follow whatever pathway seemed to alight in
front of me. There is an old spiritual precept to which I clung, "Go
through the open door." People told me about classes and workshops; I
took them. Someone recommended a book; I read it. A therapist was
suggested; I went to her. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
In the process, I decided to
turn my personal quest to find peace into something I could give away to
positively impact the lives of others because - let's face it - we all
have things happen in life that we wish had not.
Eventually, after many years of
study, I began leading seminars and coaching people myself. Initially I
coached one person at a time and gradually began coaching people by the
hundreds in live seminars. Today, eighteen years and 90,000 people
later, I see the perfection in everything that happened to me as a
teenager. What I went through enabled me to make a difference with
people that I would never otherwise have been able to make.
I believe that each of us can
find meaning in the difficulties that we've faced if we allow ourselves
to embrace them, rather than wishing they'd never happened.