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To call himself a "North Shorian" is one of Cam Calkoen's proudest traits for it is in this environment that he is inspired to make a difference and be the best that he can be. From athletics, through to community service and motivational speaking Cam has locally, nationally and internationally represented our region with pride and built networks into the many subcultures of our North Shore community. He is a monthly contributor to Channel.


Dream big, live big... FORGET ‘CAN’T’

Do you remember a time when people asked you what you wanted to be? Before the world had tarnished your thinking? Before you learnt about restrictions and boundaries? When dreams were big and anything was possible? A time before you knew can’t?

As a nation, Kiwis have had some notable people that could still think like that as adults. They opened up a host of possibilities that changed the world. Sir Ed; there was no can’t when he decided to climb Everest. Nor was can’t on the mind of Mark Ingles when he would be the first double leg amputee to climb Everest they both saw possibility and sunk a pick-axe into the ice. Then there’s Burt Munro, he seized the possibility of the World’s Fastest Indian, put his foot down and sped into the record books. And there’s more, when we put our mind to something, when we dream big, think of the possibility, we can really make things happen.

It is natural and healthy for people to dream like this as it has taken the world forward, technology has evolved, so too has education and the record books that provide a sporting history have continued to challenge what people once said to be impossible. This is why sporting brands use slogans such as ‘Impossible is Nothing’.

To dream a dream that alters life for self and others takes courage especially when there are people whose limited vision can be influential enough to crush a dream. Sir Edmond Hillary was the last kid to be picked for his PE class for he appeared scrawny and weak. Albert Einstein was told he could not be a teacher and a fellow athlete of mine (from my sporting days) who was once unable to run was refused entry to the Olympics for it was thought his artificial legs may put him at an advantage from the rest of his field. Sir Ed, Einstein and Oscar (the athlete) are among few who did persist to rise above what others said couldn’t be done. This is a strength that is not taught, it is rare and those who don’t have the strength to rebuild their dreams can lose courage to move onto another.

The biggest challenge to a dreamer are those people who fear that a dream builds false hope, that to support or encourage would bring damage and trauma. But the immeasurable strength of a dream can be that it’s someone’s fuel to get up in the morning and for another to refuse that can leave one disempowered and uninspired.

It is our greatest strength and greatest gift to be part of someone’s dream, at whatever stage we enter that journey I personally believe ‘that’ to be the stage to focus on, because if we do this right, if we focus on the now the individual will have the tools to determine the direction of their journey.

Nothing in our life is ever guaranteed but like they say in golf “100% of the shots you don’t take will be sure to miss their target, some of those you do take will succeed”. If we lose the confidence to take a shot at a dream we will be sure to miss our target in life. If we are supported to take a shot we will continue to play many courses, these courses will become the journey and that journey can be as rewarding as the dream itself. As John Lennon once said “life is what happens when your busy making other plans”.

As the festive season dawns, let us reflect on all that made 2010 great and dream for 2011 as if the word ‘can’t’ has been withdrawn from our vocabulary.


Cam Calkoen is a Motivational Speaker, Ambassador for the YES Disability Resource Centre, Ambassador for 0800WHATSUP, Paul Harris Fellow - Rotary.


by Cam Calkoen