My own experiences with difficulty began early on – as early as birth, in fact. I had a rough delivery, during which I suffered lack of oxygen that resulted in a type of brain damage known as CP, or Cerebral Palsy. As far as I'm concerned, though, CP actually stands for "Cool and Powerful”.
The brain damage diminished my ability to walk, talk and use my hands. Early on I had to learn to think of creative solutions to daily situations. I could sit for days, for example, using my mouth and nose to piece together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.
This taught me that it's always worth the effort to face your difficulties rather than trying to run away from them. Such lessons have been invaluable to me as an adult.
I also learned early on how to be intimate with people. However good I was at putting together puzzles, there were many other things I couldn't do without help. This means that over the years, I have employed several hundred people, and from this I have gained a precious understanding of people from all walks of life.
After I earned a B.S. degree in Public Law at Stockholm's University, I worked five years as director of the Stockholm Cooperative for Independent Living (STIL). STIL took over part of the communal home help service and developed its personal assistance program. During my time with the organization, its annual turnover rose from zero to four million U.S. dollars.
This project led to new legislation in 1994. Today the service is financed by the government and has an annual turnover of 700 million U.S. dollars. About 25,000 personal assistants are employed throughout Sweden to assist approximately 9,000 disabled people.
After my time with STIL, I started my own company. I wanted to teach others the importance of daring to tackle their difficulties. I wrote a book called Your Responsibility and Mine which, unfortunately, is available only in Swedish. Despite my physical disability and speech impediment, I began to travel around giving seminars and workshops. And that is what I've been doing for the last ten years.
For further information, please read Mike Pegg's presentation of me in his book The Art of Encouragement.