Reading Time: 8 minutes

Jake Bailey, wrote and delivered a speech which has been shared and read thousands of times, I first listened to his speech a fortnight before I went into surgery, I then cut out the article of his in the New Zealand Herald; and treasured it, it still sits blue tacked to my wall; the words be gallant, be great, be gracious are highlighted. I promised myself, that if I could ever find the words; I would write them down and in turn thank him properly, not only for his speech; but for everything he has had a hand in teaching me, I can honestly say; without his words; I would not be at this point in my life, he is a large part of my motivation; I still have a long way to go; but it is time for me to write down these words; and even if he only reads one little piece of it; let it be this one:

You Jake, referenced Bernard of Chartres and his comparison of our generation, to that of dwarfs on giants shoulders, able to see more; learn and grow further then those before us not because we ourselves are better, or have greater capabilities but because our predecessors have paved the way for us, we are on their shoulders.

I was able to develop my own resilience further; develop greater awareness and become a stronger person;  because I was on your shoulders; “lifted up and borne aloft” is what thousands have been because of your words. I am one of those people.  Thank you.


And so the words of Jake Bailey have effected thousands, but how? I couldn’t count all the ways; nor articulate them properly, in fact the best way I summed up my feelings to him were “It’s like the equivalent of talking to Taylor Swift or something” (good one Grace I know) but it really was/is if you are at this point utterly confused let me explain; I have spent my entire young adult life searching for role models; not the kind that you idolise or come to visit in concert, rather those that you think of everyday and know that the qualities they have, they once worked for and developed; and if they can become such incredible people, in the face of adversity. Perhaps I can too. 

“Jake Bailey is the kind of role model I searched for; he challenged me, to be better; develop further and grow a deeper understanding of who I wanted to be, and he did these things without even knowing it”

I searched for people, to drive me through this life without being effected by negativity, because I knew I couldn’t do it alone; any of it and everyday when I get up, it is for myself; for those that are in my family and for my own future; but it is also because one day I want to look back, or look at those around me and know that apart of me too, is Gallant, Great and Gracious; and that has effected others for the better,

I may never be defined as an incredible human being; but I can aim to be one, everyday and in having this aim; I know that negativity, will become apart of my drive towards positivity, with this aim; I can reach out to others, knowing that even if I am never defined as Gallant, or never written as Great; and least I tried to become a person of this stature, by using my own abilities; to help others and drive those after me towards being their best selves. Someone can stand on my shoulders, with what I leave behind; and that knowledge grounds me, to be the best person I can be. 

We can all learn from Jake Bailey; and more then that, in our own way; we can all develop the qualities he manifests; if we make the choice too. Because all quests towards our goals, towards mirroring our predecessors, or bettering ourselves; begin with conscious choice.

  ’Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.’

Jim Rohn said this; and he did not know that years after he verbalised such words, it would go on to continue to effect others, in Jake Baileys context; his words went further; through the medium of Jake Bailey;

He chose to write down his thoughts, which had a hand in Bailey writing down his own, you have no idea; what your actions will continue to do; long after you complete them, one derogatory action; may start a rebellion, one kind word could cause a revelation.

We must endorse in all action and word; the kind of person we want to be, so the kind of world we want to live in will flourish further; with future generations following the lead, reading the words and acting with the influence of those before them. It is our lead, our word, our influence that will shape others.

No circumstance defines a human being; what defines them, what defines us; is our reactions to circumstance. Conscious choice is evident, in any persons reaction to challenge or adversity 

“Moral strength is about making a conscious decision to be a person who doesn’t give up, when it would be easy to”

Our character is defined in our reactions to all things, especially adversity. I have written before about Elie Wiesel; he is an example of the power conscious choice has, beyond the horrors to which he was witness; Wiesel has made the choice to believe in the power of love, compassion, and freedom; he may have every reason to deny the existence of such things however in spite of everything, he chooses to believe in them; no matter how powerful it may have been, no dictatorship or war broke him.

Rather conscious choice built him up, just as no illness broke Jake Bailey, conscious choice to speak and fight built him, no circumstance will break you. If you make the conscious choice, to build up and become taller then the height of your adversity.

I know I will never walk like my peers, and the truth is that one reality; impacts everything, in what way however is my choice, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of my friends, being able to simply hop in their cars; I could let that envy eat me up; pretty easily and some days it does, but mostly I realised nobody can pull us out; of negativity; it is up to us.

The little bit of knowledge I picked up from Physics is the importance of forces (I don’t even know if thats an accurate statement- sorry Ms-) all things cannot be driven simply by one force alone, rather by many forces; each with different purposes, that work together; toward the same goal, getting the object to preform its intended purpose.

You are that object and negativity, is one force; and focusing on that force alone will not drive you anywhere, however if you come to use that negativity in conjunction with an understanding that resilience is alive in you and that purpose is waiting for you, those too are forces which will aid you towards becoming your best self; because what you may struggle with constantly, cannot do the same way as others, or your current adversity; may not ever fully cease; however, when you value the existence of purpose and resilience higher then these realities, negativity no longer; holds you back, as a lone force; rather it works to propel you forward.

As a force to be reckoned with.


And the truth is that the future is riddled with the unknown; with the prospect of new or still existent challenges, and if we are constantly focused on that, we will never see; what is really in front of us; I am not driving a car, I do not have the wheelchair I need; however I got myself out of bed today, something I haven’t done for three months. It is the small victories, that keep us going. Everything else can be worked out when the time comes.

“The future is truly in our hands. Forget about having long-term dreams. Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Micro-ambitious. Work with pride on what is in front of us.”

Baileys speech is a reminder to all of us; to look out and help one another, I have a long and at times challenging journey ahead of me, but I realised my challenges and disability do not carry the same weight as other peoples adversities, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives; we forget to reach out and realise how lucky we are as people, to be where we are.

The people who told me “they’d be there for me” most of them three months later aren’t there, and I still have a hell of a long way to go, I could be mad; annoyed but what is the point, I should spend my time being utterly thankful and extremely grateful for the few people; who’ve stayed around for me; and that same gratefulness should filter through to everything I do, a tool to use in empathy; to reach out to others, in the small conversation I had with Jake Bailey, I told him I stood for the first time that day; and thanked him for his words; which were and still are a big part of my motivation. He then said, along with other things; that he too has to strengthen his legs after treatment.

It was then, cemented in me once more that we are all going through something

I saw that in flashing neon lights after our conversation; And so when I do walk, months down the track it will be in the name of all the people I aim to help, in my future.  

Because it is no longer; or has never been; about our singular struggles; rather it is about recognising that all people have adversities and developing empathy, to reach out and to serve, all people, no matter what. I knew this; but Jake Bailey, reminded me.


And I will carry this reminder with me, everywhere I roll or walk if you are that way inclined, (I don’t have a future in stand up comedy – get it. ) and use myself to illustrate what Jake Bailey drew through his speech, I will be an instrument of service and manifest my passions in full colour; I challenge you to do the same, I hope my words have this same effect on you.

“[But] none of us get out of life alive so be gallant, be great, be gracious, be grateful for the opportunities you have. The opportunity to learn from the men who have walked before you and those that walk beside you.”

We have all learned from Jake Bailey, it is when we put his words into practice and manifest them, in our own way.  We are truly doing this wonderful human being justice, manifest people! In your own beautiful, passionate, lovely ways live the words and lessons of Jake Bailey.

“They share her triumphs still, The men who went before us with ours their voices thrill In the immortal chorus. Altiora Peto”

Seek higher things, for yourself, for the bettering of others, for the enrichment of our society; and to Jake Bailey, if you’ve read this far; we walk beside you, *well some of us roll but the principle remains.*

Keep Hustling, Stay Classy. X

(all parts of Jake Baileys speech have been speech marked, quoted or bolded along with other important passages, you can watch Jake Baileys speech fully here)




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