Above is a video of some highlights from Chris’ presentation.
by Stephen Dafoe
You can call Chris Koch many things. Farmer, longboarder, and world traveller, to name a few. But most of all, you
can call him inspirational.
The Nanton motivational speaker / farmer / traveller brought his message of positivity, acceptance and
the endless potential of the human spirit to Georges H. Primeau students Friday morning.
Koch said he found growing up without limbs an easy experience, largely due to the dry and quirky sense of humour present in his family and the fact his parents did not treat his disability as a tragedy.
Beyond parental, familial and community acceptance, it was Koch’s own determination to be just like everyone else that has made him the confidant and positive man he is today. It is a confidence and positivity that makes him capable of helping those to whom he meets see their personal potential.
Whether playing road hockey as a boy, touring the world with his longboard or presenting his inspiring story to Oprah Winfrey fans, Koch’s message is a constant one about living up to our full potential.
It can be summed up in the words “If I Can…” Though the words form an incomplete sentence, the absence of words allows the listener to fill the void with the endless possibilities Koch believes his audiences can achieve.
“If I can work on a farm, snowboard, surf, can travel the world, can live a completely 100 per cent independent happy life. If I can do that, you guys can do absolutely anything,” Koch told students. “A lot of times we actually create our own obstacles in life. Some of the biggest obstacles we will come across, we’ve created in our own minds. If it is a legitimate obstacle, we’ve taken something that’s this big and turned it into something that is seemingly insurmountable. Our mind gets in the way of
our dreams a lot of times.”
Koch believes the same mindset of do-ability that has allowed him to overcome his lack of limbs to do so much, is the same mindset that can let anyone accomplish whatever they want to do. It is only a matter of mindset, determination and effort.
The motivational speaker said people need to celebrate their differences and those of others. Though fortunate to not have been the recipient of bullying as a child or as an adult, he realizes it exists and says it needs to stop.
“For those who are bullying – stop. It’s not cool at all,” Koch said. “It’s all right to joke around and have fun, but draw the line. I joke around about my situation, but when it gets to a point where you are hurting somebody; it’s not cool.”
Accepting and celebrating his difference is what Koch believes has made him bullyproof over the years. “I’m confident and comfortable with who I am,” he said. “You can tease me all you want, but you are not going to phase me. When you let people get into your head like that, that’s when bullying becomes effective. Be confident in yourself. Love who you are. Love your differences. People’s differences should be celebrated. You shouldn’t be teased because you don’t look the same as the person next to you. We all look different, and that is one of the greatest things about our society.”
Koch encourages people to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be, but shuns the expression – you only live once.
“I disagree. You only die once,” he said. “When you woke up the morning of January 1st, you were given 365 opportunities to live. I encourage everyone to make the most of each and every day, and just get out there and have so much fun because there is so much to do.” Chris Koch’s inspirational story and travels are chronicled at www.ifican.ca. He is also active on social media through Twitter and Facebook.