Earlier this year, there was a wonderful Movie of the week telling the story of Loretta Claiborne, a young African-American woman who has mild mental retardation. Claiborne, born partially blind, unable to walk and talk until age 4, was raised by a no-nonsense and loving single-parent mother, who refused to treat her retarded daughter any differently than all her other "normal" children. In her teens, Claiborne discovered she could run competitively, and run she did, racing her way through the Special Olympics, which changed her life. In 1996 Loretta Claiborne received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. She still races and is an advocate for those with mental and physical disabilities.
"Well, that's a nice tear jerker sort of story, Dr. Noelle," you say, "Very inspiring and all that - but what the heck does it have to do with me?"
Everything. Loretta Claiborne is a shining example of a person focusing on what she has, not on what she has not. Too often, the rest of us run around decrying all our "lacks." We feel we're not smart enough, educated enough, talented enough, thin enough, fat enough, rich enough, quick enough, mellow enough, and the list goes on and on. Quite frankly, if most of us spent the same kind of energy focusing on what we have/are as we do focusing on what we have/are not, we would be phenomenal successes! As is Loretta Claiborne.

Loretta, according to those who know her, does "whatever interests her. She doesn't think about it or talk about it. She goes and does it and tries to do her best." (from an interview with Kimberly Elise, who portrayed Ms. Claiborne) In other words, she doesn't waste a lot of time or energy on how she's unfit to do the thing she wants to do, she just goes out and does it.
What an inspiration for us all! What an example to learn from! Think about it. Let's say, for example, you want to be a screenwriter. You live in Los Angeles, capital of screen-writing, where everyone is either writing, pitching or dreaming up yet another screenplay. You've never taken a course as a
writer. All your energy is taken up with "I'll never get this read, I'll never get an agent, I don't know how to write well enough, I can't find the time to write," etc., etc. Even your cat is tired of hearing your "it'll never happen" lament over and over again.

What if you simply applied all that energy to a) writing, b) pitching? If you don't know how to write, take a writing class, or if you're too broke or don't have the time, take a book out on writing from the library, or join a writers' support group (it must exist, this is Hollywood).

In other words, focus on what you want, using what you have - not what you don't. You want to pitch your script? Great - get creative. You have imagination, everyone does. You get ideas (especially if you work at it), everyone does. And talk about your script, your project - with everyone. That's another thing you have - people, all over the place. You'd be surprised how people will come up with helpful ideas, helpful connections, and with the Internet - you have even more resources out there than ever before. OK, so you're NOT Stephen King, you don't have Speilberg as a godfather - so
what?!! Once upon a time, even Stephen King and Speilberg were just names that start with S. . .

Focus is everything. If Loretta Claiborne had focused on her inability to think as quickly as others, if she'd dwelt on her lacks, she'd be noplace. She'd be sad, unproductive and probably depressed. Instead, she focused on what she can do - run, and who she is - a caring and giving person. As a result, her life is full and vibrant.

Focus on what you have to offer, on who you are. Do a fearless inventory of your QUALITIES, of your uniqueness, and let that be what transforms your desires into successes. Let Loretta Claiborne and all those like her (Winners!) inspire you to the rich and fulfilling life you deserve.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Nelson motivates, inspires and gives us the practical skills to achieve success, happiness and the development of our "best" selves. Visit www.dr.noellenelson.com for more, including the uplifting and motivating monthly online newsletter Winning! A Way of Life."