Lessons From a 3-Foot Giant

Dr. Sean Stephenson Is On a Mission to Rid the World of Insecurities

Lliam and I have had the pleasure of hearing and meeting an array of entrepreneurial “giants,” sports figures and celebrities during our quarterly industry events. We’ve learned great lessons in perseverance, persistence and passion from people like Steve Forbes, Michael Oher, Kevin O’Leary and Mike Rowe. But none made as big of an impression on me as the 2 ft. 8 in. man in a wheelchair.

Dr. Sean Stephenson was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and resulted in more than 200 fractured bones by the time he was 18. Doctors didn’t give his parents any hope of his surviving 24 hours past birth. But he has a fighting spirit and heart of gold that wouldn’t let him or his parents give up. The struggles, pain and adversity he has endured during his lifetime have fueled an unwavering determination to fulfill what he has determined is his life’s mission: ridding the world of insecurities.

If anyone on this planet has an excuse to give up and give in to their challenges, it would be him. After all, the 38-year-old still needs help getting in and out of his wheelchair, getting dressed, getting into the child’s car seat he needs when riding in a car, along with a list of other tasks most people take for granted. He admits that his life is not easy. But that doesn’t mean his life’s not good. In his own words, he lives like a rock star. He relayed a story from his childhood that was to become a defining moment in his life.

When he was in fourth grade, Sean was on the floor playing when he fractured his femur. He had had plenty of broken bones in his lifetime, but this time it made him angry. Really angry. “Why me,” he thought. Why had he been born with such a debilitating condition? It was unfair and he didn’t deserve it.

His mother looked deep into his eyes and asked him, “Sweetie, is this going to be a gift or a burden in your life?”

“How could this be a gift, Mom?” he asked. “But what took place next – it was like this warm wind of wisdom rushed into the room and circled around my body. And then it all became clear. Maybe the purpose to my condition – why I had to be in this body, this ‘container’ was to teach the rest of the human race to love their life amidst their pain. My Mom taught me another valuable lesson that day. She said, ‘Sweetie, pain is inevitable; suffering is an option.’”

Sean’s story is incredible and inspiring, so I wanted to share a few nuggets of wisdom from this funny, entertaining little giant of a man.

You’ve Gotta Bring the Party

One thing that we all have in common is emotion. And if you can learn how to master your emotions and how to influence other’s emotions, you can create wealth and healing, and help those you care about the most – your family and your customers. To do this, he said you have to take control of the situation by visualizing the atmosphere and energy you want to create. As an example, he told a story of when he, as a younger man, would hang out at dance clubs with friends. There was never a shortage of young women who wanted to dance with him, and he usually had a group of beautiful ladies dancing around his wheelchair on the dance floor – and this was baffling to one of his male friends. This friend drew the conclusion that the reason all the young women wanted to have fun and dance with a little man in a wheelchair was because of – the wheelchair.

Sean insisted it had nothing to do with the chair, but instead had everything to do with the energy he was exuding. Sean decided to conduct an experiment. He decided he was going to act like a little man in a wheelchair. “So as I wheeled back out on the dance floor I thought, ‘How does a little man in a wheelchair act?’  I have no idea.  So, I said, ‘Well, he’s probably scared of his own shadow.’ So, I went out in the middle of the dance floor and I brought my energy in. I got energetically small, afraid of my own shadow, kind of needy, hoping somebody would like me.  And then I watched as every girl passed around me as if I was furniture.  Is it the girl’s fault?  No.  So, nobody was making eye contact.

“Finally, my buddy comes racing over to me and says, ‘Sean, Sean.  I get it.  I get it.  You bring the party.  It’s your attitude.  It’s your energy that is so attractive. Can you please bring the girls back now?’

“You are responsible for the energy that you’re keeping around you,” he said.  “If you’re not getting what you want in your life, if you’re not being treated the way you want to be treated in your life, whose responsibility is it?  It’s yours.  You want to be treated with more respect you have to treat yourself with more respect because here’s a little secret – you teach people how to treat you.”

Have a Clear Vision of What You Want in Life

It’s important to know exactly what you want because life is filled with distractions that will keep you from realizing your potential. Distractions come in the form of doubters, haters, cynics and critics. But, he warns, you can’t listen to those people who belittle your goals and aspirations. “If I listened to those people I would’ve never found love.  I would’ve never built my own company.  I would never have traveled around the world.  I wouldn’t even have survived.  So, I didn’t have time for those voices in my world.”

The biggest doubter in most people’s lives is themselves. The person in the mirror has the most influence over your life, he said. “It’s so easy to listen to that voice when it starts spewing fact.  ‘You’re this weight.’ Fact.  ‘This is what’s in your bank account.’ Fact.  ‘This is how many times you’ve been married.’ Fact.  ‘This is what your car looks like.’ Fact.  ‘This is where your business is.’ Fact.  You see fear operates using facts in our mind.  It throws facts in our face.  ‘Well, you haven’t done that or you failed before.’  Fact, fact, fact.  You can’t listen to those facts. You’ve got to listen to your intuition.  Your heart doesn’t need facts it has instincts.” It’s imperative to ignore the facts and instead listen to the little voice that says “why not” or “keep going.”

“You are amazing when you are not being run by awful things like fears, excuses and insecurities,” he said.

Surround Yourself with People Who Lift You Up

With so many people trying to tear you down, it’s important to keep company with those who make you feel more energized and recharged – not depleted. Sean is a strong advocate for mentoring. In business and in life, you should seek out others who can help and guide you in your journey.


Sean Stephenson, licensed therapist, author and motivational speaker, was the subject of a Biography Channel documentary, Three Foot Giant, and has authored two books – How You(th) Can Succeed!: Transforming Dreams into Reality for Young Adults and Get Off Your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself.

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