November 9th, 2017:
There we are sitting in a completely disheveled living room in Franklin, Tennessee, the whole place is a mess. We had moved all the family’s furniture around and set up a makeshift video studio using whatever was available in the house and the small amount of gear we drove halfway across the country. It’s getting late in the day, Liam turns to me and says “Anymore questions, Kyle?”.
For the last few hours, we had been interviewing Jesse - a rugby player who survived a heart transplant at age 16. I did, in fact, have one final question that was not on the list...I was curious, and I wasn’t sure if I should ask this, but I did anyway. “Who does your heart belong to?” There's a pause...Jesse looks around for a moment, a little apprehensive, then he says “There are so many answers to that...my heart belongs to me, and my heart belongs to David Grey...he had a brain aneurysm when he was 21.” My eyes begin to fill with tears. I look behind the camera at Liam, his eyes were watering up too. We both felt the same thing.
You see, 21 years ago...I had a brain aneurysm at the age of 11. I couldn’t walk, talk, didn’t even know what a salt shaker was used for. I basically was a vegetable. Last year, on my 20th anniversary, we set out to capture other peoples stories in a documentary series. In that moment with Jesse, everything changed. It was like the whole road trip - my whole life - had brought me to this moment. Jesse had sparked something deeper that, one moment ago, was not there. I was immediately and forever connected with this person who I had just met. My whole life, I had wondered “why me,” and in that exact moment listening to Jesse, I discovered “why me.” I had found my purpose. I lived, to tell these stories.
Jesse, seeing my reaction, added, “Maybe this is my ‘stroke of genius’ - me meeting you...that’s a part of my contribution.”
Those few seconds changed the whole perspective and path of our docu-series. What we found is that when you share your story, special moments like these happen, it’s not an accident or coincidence. It’s not by chance that we have these magical moments. It was the product of Kyle being open and brave enough to ask an unscripted question from his heart; and Jesse being brave enough to answer the question open and honestly.
We call this, a ‘Stroke of Genius.’
The #StrokeofGenius Project is about that seemingly small, yet incredibly important moment where you choose how to live the rest of your life. When you open up and share this, it gives others the opportunity to experience that moment too.
Moran Cerf, world renowned Neuroscientist at Northwestern University and TEDx speaker, talks about the phenomenon of synchronizing our brains.
“Essentially, by constantly exposing ourselves to similar content we actually make our brains synchronize. To the point that we create echo-chambers where we really see the world in the same way and become more alike.”
We often talk about the negative impacts of “echo chambers” but Moran continues;
“The positive side of that is that if there are traits that you want in your life we now know that just by being engaged with brains that possess those traits you will embrace some aspects of them.”
So if you want to triumph over something, engage with brains of people who have triumphed.
And how do we engage with other brains? by talking, and listening.
We have seen this happen time and time again along our journey. Recently, while interviewing Cory Weissman about his incredible come back from a severe stroke, someone watching live reached out to us in the moment and shared his own struggles. We were stunned and moved that he would be so open. The four of us started a conversation that led to him being grateful and overjoyed. We’ve stayed connected with him ever since, he now has a community he can share his stories with.
After hearing these stories, someone in Tucson, Arizona reached out to get advice, and she was inspired to start a support group where she lives. Currently there is no support for what she is dealing with, and now she can be the one to bring that to her community.
Even just a few weeks ago, we posted a short video featuring Kyle’s mom’s sharing her own experience of living through the trauma of having a child who suffered an aneurysm. Someone reached out and said; “I’m going through this same experience right now… [this] gives me hope”
We believe that while the struggle might be what brings us together, it is the positive outcomes that bond us individuals into a community.
Connecting with someone else that's had a similar, or even wildly different experience, and re-living their triumph with them, makes a real difference beyond just “feel good” stories and quotes.
Everyone knows this deep down inside, and they just need a place to do it. So, we are building a community - a community based around triumph and the sharing of our triumphs.
Why this matters is; Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. “Below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas.” Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”
An estimated 20% of the world population has suffered a life changing medical event, that is approximately 1.4 billion people. Imagine what is possible if we all shared our story?
A community built on shared triumph can do anything, including impacting the lives of those still dealing with adversity, provide support for those in need, and inspire others to get involved.
In the coming weeks, we will be partnering with Thrive Global to create an online platform for everyone to share their #StrokeofGenius. Through online distribution of these stories we can bring triumph, hope and inspiration to those of us currently dealing with life changing events, and even those who are not. Share Your Stroke of Genius represents a unique approach to raising awareness, building community, and inspiring hope for those who may have lost it.
#StrokeofGenius is in everyone, and we can't wait to hear yours.