The Extra Mile

In the every endeavour that you do, do you do things half-hearted or do you go all the way? Or better yet, do you have the courage to do beyond what is required and walk the extra mile?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to share with you the story of Nyle DiMarco.

Does the name ring a bell? Perhaps not.

For the benefit of everyone who doesn’t know, Nyle DiMarco was in 2015, the winner of the 22nd and final season of America’s Next Top Model. He wanted to do something which hasn’t been done before, so he worked as hard he could to win over the competition.

Okay, I’ll be honest here. The main reasons why he won were because he’s ridiculously good-looking, charming, and confident. He is also book-smart with a university degree in Mathematics. But those are not his best assets.

Nyle comes from a family whose members do not have the ability to hear or to talk. He is a fourth generation deaf person, one of the 70 million in the world.

Nyle was the first and only deaf person to enter the competition, ever. But his disability did not stop him from performing his best. What he lacked in one sense, he augmented in the others. His perceptive ability to read lips and other nonverbal cues made him understand the psychology of human behaviour, and this he used to showcase excellent interpersonal communication skills and sign language ability. He also had laser focus and for some reason, he kept his eye on the prize.

After winning, Nyle did not stop there. He kept the momentum going and entered in the following year also the 22nd season of Dancing with the Stars. And guess what? He won as well. Together with his dancing partner Peta Murgatroyd, they waltzed their way into the finals where their version of Cha-cha-cha garnered perfect scores from the judges for them to be crowned champions.

It didn’t make sense to me. How could a deaf person join, let alone win, in a dancing competition?

Without the ability to hear music, how he could’ve followed the rhythm and danced to the beat is a mystery to me.

Without the ability to talk, how he could’ve communicated to his non-deaf dancing partner week in and week out of the competition is mind-boggling.

After winning Dancing with the Stars, Nyle posted a victory photo on his Instagram, an online photo-sharing application, and dedicated his win to the 70 million deaf people in the world.

That was when I knew. Nyle did not only want to win for himself, but he had a greater purpose. This purpose was the motivation that moved him to defy the odds and have the winner’s attitude to propel him to the pinnacle of success.

I looked into the story further and found out that Nyle is a trailblazer who advocates to let the world know that deaf people can do anything too because truth be told, deaf people are just like me and just like you. America’s next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars were great avenues to campaign for his advocacy – and this he did with flying colours.

By exploring an unchartered territory, creating history, and achieving an extraordinary feat, Nyle DiMarco inspired not only the deaf people, but also people like me, who have the ability to hear but never really listen, who have the ability to talk, but never really speak out.

There was not a single comprehensible sound that came out of Nyle’s mouth, but he was able to convey a perfectly clear and powerful message – that if you pursue an endeavour with purpose and with everything that you have, you are very likely to achieve your dreams.

I began to think about my own life. What is my purpose? What on Earth am I here for? Why do I always work as hard as I can and give it my best? Why at 30 years old, I still go to university, and try to learn about the world as much as I can? In trying to find the answers I emulated Nyle DiMarco’s world – total pitch-dark silence – and in that moment of self-reflection, I became aware. In silence, I heard the sound – the voice of my own soul reminding me that I want to walk the extra mile and strive for excellence – to achieve my dream and fulfil my life’s purpose. I want to inspire my fellow 100 million Filipinos and prove to the world that ours is a country of resilient, brilliant individuals whose ideas can also help transform the world for the better.

My purpose is just beginning, but I will hold on to it. Because Nyle DiMarco has shown me, and now, I know, that if that if you pursue an endeavour with purpose and walk the extra mile, you are very likely to achieve my dreams.

In the busyness of our daily lives, do we take the time to switch the noise off, appreciate the silence, and ask ourselves, what is our purpose? And in achieving our dreams, are we willing to walk the extra mile?

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