Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough?
Do you sometimes doubt what your strengths are and what your purpose is in life?
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Jim used to be teased as “the boy with the broken brain” and is now a world famous learning expert, coaching among others Elon Musk and Will Smith how to fully utilize their brain.
Check out how he got there and let his story inspire you to discover your own superpower!
The boy with the broken brain
Maybe you had a rocky start in life too, or you’re still experiencing moments of self-doubt.
You’re not alone — Jim Kwik describes how he fell of a chair at school one day, right into the radiator. Blood everywhere, it was a traumatic experience which left him with a brain injury.
From that day on, he was never the same again. He became very shy and had difficulties to learn and read at school. Teachers and students started calling him “the boy with the broken brain.” It made him insecure and painfully aware that he was different, that there was something wrong with him.
He says: “It took me actually an extra three years to learn how to read. I taught myself by reading comic books while my parents thought I was sleeping. I would be under the covers with my flashlight every night looking at the pictures.
My favorite comic books growing up were the X-Men, not because they were the strongest or the fastest, it’s just they didn’t fit in because they were mutants and they were bullied like I was bullied. They were pushed aside and told that they weren’t worth anything. It was a metaphor for me of what people were capable of and what humans are, their potential is.”
Leonardo was a breaking point
One day at school, his class was tasked to do an important book report. It was Jim’s big chance to succeed for once and improve his low grades. He got the topic of Leonardo da Vinci and was determined to make his parents proud.
“I picked up every single book on Leonardo da Vinci and I just dreamt about Leonardo and at breakfast I would read about Leonardo. Everything was about this person. This is going to decide if I was something and that it was more than a book report.”
Then the moment comes that he’s asked to present it in front of the class. Jim describes how his world crumbles at that point and his heart starts raging. He’s sweating and lies that he didn’t do the book report. He got a zero while he has the report in his backpack that he worked so hard on.
He recalls: “I remember to this day walking up, out of the classroom, and there’s a trash can right there. I threw the book report in there and along with that, everything, in terms of my hopes and my abilities, my pride, my promises, it just felt like it just went in the trash. I still look back with regret and sorrow that I didn’t step up being able to do that, but I was a product, at that moment, of my conditioning. I was believing my self-talk that I wasn’t enough.”
It’s not what, but how to learn
This very moment made it clear to Jim, 18 by that time, that things needed to change, even if he didn’t know yet how.
He goes away with a friend for the weekend and gets into a conversation with this friend’s dad. He asks Jim the random questions that most parents ask: how’s school?
This simple question breaks Jim down. He starts to cry and pours out his life story, all the difficulties he encountered as a child. The father asks him another fundamental question: but what’s really your problem?
Jim replied: “My problem is I have a very slow brain. I’m a very slow learner. Maybe I can learn how to learn faster?” I was like, “Okay, where do I go to learn?” I thought, “Oh, school.” I started looking through all the classes and I started reading every single one. I realize all these classes are on what to learn, but there were zero classes on how to learn. How does my brain work so I can work my brain? How does my memory work so I can work my memory? I made that my study. That was my aha moment.”
After this epiphany, Jim decided to made it his mission to help other people to learn. It’s become his successful quest for the past 25 years.
X-men come to life
Recently he experienced a special moment that put the spotlight on his rocky road to success.
One day he gets a call from the office of 20th Century Fox, asking him to do a half-day coaching session with their executive team.
He goes there and basically gives one of the best trainings he’s ever done. The executives are thrilled and offer him, as a reward, to visit the movie set of the new X-Men movie in Montreal.
“When we get to Montreal, the very first scene took place in Charles Xavier’s Superhero School. I’m still this nine-year-old boy. I’m looking at this school, the place I’ve always dreamed, that I’ve always searched and seeked for. I got to see my superheroes come to life right in front of me. When I go home after that, there’s a package waiting for me and it’s the size of maybe a television. I open it up and it’s this photograph of me and the entire cast of X-Men. There’s a note in there from the Chairman of Fox and it says, “Jim, thank you so much for sharing your superpowers with all of us. I know you’ve been looking for your superhero school ever since you were a child. Here’s your class photo.”
Find your superpower
As a final note, Jim gives us the one key lesson he learned throughout his remarkable life:
“What I’ve learned is this, a lot of people say oh, I’m not that smart or how smart am I or how smart are my kids?
They’re asking the wrong question.
It’s not how smart you are, it’s how are you smart?
A superhero for me is somebody who is on the path of discovering and developing their superpowers. Like, their strengths, their unique ability, their unique talents and I feel like the world needs more superheroes and the world deserves more of us to be able to show up, that there’s a superhero version of all of us. Find your superpower.”
So there’s no one single way to be smart of successful. We all have the power within to be smart our own way. Take the time to find what you excel in and develop it, become your own superhero. To say it in Jim’s words: your brain is a super computer and your self-talk is the program it will run.
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