Episode 170 Life Through the Eyes of a Child Trapped in a Blind and Deaf Man’s Body: Interview with Kenny Tedford & Paul Smith
Kenny Tedford was born with brain damage that left him with the intellectual ability of a 4th grader, deaf in both ears, legally blind in one eye, partial paralysis on his life side and difficulty speaking until the age of 10 – A remarkable combination of Helen Keller and Forrest Gump. As he grew up he continued to face even more challenges, but his heart, his faith, and his sense of of humor have helped him create the life story he wanted – that of being a master storyteller and inspiring others.
Best selling author Paul Smith is one of the worlds leading experts on organizational storytelling. How work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, Time, Forbes and Success magazine to name a few.
When the two met at a story telling festival Kenny found a man to write his memoir and Paul met a man who would teach him a cornucopia of beautiful lessons as he listened to the stories that Kenny, now a master storyteller, motivational speaker, actor and comedian would tell him.
I sat down with the book Four Days with Kenny Tedford doing my research and thinking I would read some, skim some and do enough reading to conduct a successful interview. After all it’s a 330 page book. But I was pulled into Kenny’s stories, one after another – chronological stories starting when Kenny was a child and making his way through his adult life – grade school to college. There are stories of learning about the word “retarded,” learning about racism, being bullied, but also stories about interactions with strangers, and unseen angels. Stories about Kenny making the world better one touch at a time and overcoming cancer, heart attacks, breaking his neck, the death of his parents, heartbreak, and even sadly, being molested. The difficulties in Kenny’s life have not stopped him from living his childhood dream of being a storyteller and motivational speaker. I’m excited for you all to hear a few of his stories first hand.
Tune into the audio program to hear my interview with both men as we catch them on their book tour, and I’m excited to hear Kenny tell some of his own stories.
My personal biggest take-away from Kenny’s stories – besides being pulled along through this lovely man’s life, was the idea of parenting – At one point in the book Paul says, “It takes courage to put your children in a position to struggle. Without the struggle there is no learning.” As a parent this gave me room for thought and consideration. Another lesson that struck home was where Paul points out HOW Kenny accomplished all kinds of impressive things – and it boiled down to 3 things: 1. Hard work and dedication on Kenny’s part. 2. Support and assistance of other along the way (doctors, therapists, friends). 3. Someone or something to inspire and motivate. As I consider so many interviews with people overcoming big life challenges, this pattern is something I’ve seen over and over – but when Paul listed them out I said, “Ah, yes, that’s it.”
Just as I learned some lessons and got food for thought from Kenny’s stories, I think you will too. I highly recommend this book: Four Days with Kenny Tedford. I’ll have links to it in the show notes, but you can no doubt Google it and find it on Amazon.
For more information on Kenny and Paul and their book:
www.leadwithastory.com = Paul Smith
www.kennytedford.com = Kenny Tedford
Book: Four Days with Kenny Tedford
Thank you for being here today. Your challenge this week is to think of a story in your life that you can share with someone that will lift and inspire and show an example of something you want to share. It’s all about the story telling – this is how we communicate best as a species.
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See you in two weeks for the next episode. If you love the show – please leave me a review.