Motivational speaker’s message to youth: Don’t let fear stop you

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – What will be your next telephone pole?

That’s the question motivational speaker and author Martin Latulippe left hundreds of high school students with Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Cornwall.

Latulippe spoke for an hour as part of the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS) three-day 11th annual Youth Symposium.

“My journey is no different than any other journey of successful people,” said Latulippe. “I’m just a normal guy who decided to go after his dream.”

When he started hockey at 10 years old, his ambition exceeded his talent, so he used his positive attitude to persevere.

Fast-forward to age 24, and he’s competing as Team Canada captain at the 2001 World University Championships. The thrill of waving the country’s flag before the game in front of tens of thousands of fans furthered his message that big things can come with baby steps.

Bu the roar of the crowd went silent when Latulippe was slashed in the neck by a hockey skate and came millimeters from dying.

“When something like that happens, you think fast and you think a lot,” he said.

The injury he sustained that day changed his direction.

“I was successful in only one area of my life,” said Latulippe. “But in the other areas, I was living in fear. I wasn’t making a contribution to my community. I was living my little life as a hockey player and not growing as a person. So I made a promise that if I survived this, I would live my life to the fullest.”

And that’s what he’s been doing for the last 14 years. The former small-town boy, who grew up in a community with a population of roughly 300, currently resides in New Brunswick with his wife.

Latulippe said society is teaching youth that to be successful in life you have to be absolutely confident with a world-class unbeatable self-esteem.

“This is a lie,” he said. “The most successful people, they doubt themselves, live in fear, and second-guess the moves they make. But, they never let fear stop them.”

As Latulippe spoke, the iconic ‘No Fear’ tagline was projected onto a large screen and transformed into ‘Know Fear.’

He asked the students: “How would your life look if you decided to push your own limits and go after your wildest dreams? Not just to achieve success, but progress.”

Latulippe quoted cancer-fighter Terry Fox’s simple, yet profound one-liner when responding to media about his motivation to run when so many miles were ahead.

“I just keep running to the next telephone pole.”

Latulippe said in life, everyone has goals and too often become discouraged along the way.

“I want to challenge you to think – what will be your next telephone pole?” he asked. “What are you chasing in life? If you’ve never thought about it, figure out your passion.”

Kennedy Dirk, a grade 12 student at the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall from Fort McMurray, Alberta, said his speech spoke to a lot of hockey players in the crowd, but can also be applied to different aspects of life.

She was chosen to introduce Latullippe at the beginning of the presentation.

“He reached out and touched a lot of aspects that kids our age struggle with – it was nice to get some insight,” said Dirk.

She added: “I think attending hockey academy we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone a lot, and for him to justify that and further explain how to do that helps a lot.”

CCPS Const. Jeff Lalonde said the purpose of the symposium is to reach out to local youth to help them make healthier lifestyle decisions.

In two days, Latulippe spoke to over 2,000 students.

“Every year, we bring in a motivational speaker to inspire them and see a different way of looking at life,” said Lalonde.

On Thursday, Latulippe will host a leadership workshop with 36 students – four from every local high school.

“It’s been part of our vision to reach our youth, up and above our regular programs,” said Lalonde.

Cornwall police will also meet with the Children’s Aid Society of SDG on March 5 for a presentation and roundtable discussion as part of the symposium.

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