Fri, May 05, 2006 - Page 2 News List

`Mr Motivator' hits Taiwan to provide some inspiration

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Physically challenged Australian John Coutis rides a skate to a press conference while his fans cheer in Taipei yesterday. Coutis, whose legs were amputated when he was 18, will give speeches around the nation on living with a disability.

PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP

"Think about it, is life really that bad?" This is the question often posed by John Coutis, an Australian motivational speaker, who is in Taipei this week to help inspire people suffering from depression as well as physical and mental disabilities.

When Coutis was born with a severe disability that meant his legs were useless, doctors said that he would not live more than a day. His legs were amputated when he was 18, and at the age of 30, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite all these setbacks, he refused to give up on life.

Coutis now travels all over the world giving talks and motivating people to help them overcome the difficulties they face in life.

"I want to inspire at least one person in Taiwan," Coutis said. "Just one out of 23 million, to let them want to continue living their lives to the fullest. That would be a good day for me."

The suicide rate in Taiwan has rocketed in recent years, with more than 4,000 people committing suicide last year.

Coutis reminds depressed people that "no matter how bad you think you are, there's always someone else worse off."

"Be the best you can with what you have," he said.

Coutis said that life is not really as bad as many people believe.

"So what if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or that you have bad skin?" he said. "That's no reason for ending your life."

Life is actually very simple, Coutis said. The more people try to complicate it, the harder it gets, he said.

Coutis' wife, Leane, and son, Clayton, are accompanying him on this trip.

His son, who has hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, said that his father has helped him through the difficulties in his life.

When schoolmates inquire about his father's legs, he said that he would answer, "My father's special. And your father is as well."

Leane said that all families have problems but all problems can be resolved through communication.

Coutis was invited to Taiwan by Rock Liang (梁凱恩), a motivational speaker, who himself suffered depression during his teenage years.

"I attempted suicide twice in high school and didn't graduate until the age of 23," Liang said.

Liang said he met Coutis in China when they were both giving speeches and was amazed at how optimistic a disabled person could be.

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