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  • You know what the greatest secret of history is?

  • It's that history can be changed.

  • And, yeah, yeah, I know,

  • everyone says history can't be changed,

  • but it can.

  • And today we're going to talk about

  • how history isn't just something that goes backwards,

  • history goes forward too.

  • And all those great things that haven't happened yet,

  • that's history that's just waiting to be written.

  • So how do you change history?

  • I'm going to tell you by sharing with you

  • the three things that I tell my kids every night

  • when I tuck them into bed.

  • It's true.

  • I stole the idea from a friend of mine

  • who told me what his father used to share with him.

  • Every single night, when I tuck my kids into bed,

  • I tell them these three things:

  • dream big,

  • work hard,

  • and stay humble.

  • So let's look at them all.

  • First, dream big.

  • You know who has the biggest, best dreams of all?

  • You, young people.

  • You know how old Martin Luther King, Jr. was

  • when he became the leader

  • of the most famous bus boycott in history?

  • He was 26.

  • You know how old Amelia Earhart was

  • when she broke her first world record?

  • 25

  • You know how old Steve Jobs was

  • when he co-founded Apple Computer?

  • 21

  • And you know how old Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were

  • when they came up with their idea for the greatest superhero of all time,

  • the first one, that they named "Superman"?

  • These guys were 17 years old!

  • Two 17-year-old kids created Superman.

  • They weren't good looking.

  • (Look at the picture, right?)

  • They weren't popular.

  • They had no money,

  • but they were two best friends with one dream.

  • And with just their imaginations,

  • they gave the world Superman.

  • And I know, creating Superman is a once-in-a-lifetime big dream,

  • so I want to tell you about Alexandra Scott.

  • She goes by Alex.

  • Alex was diagnosed with cancer

  • before she was even a year old,

  • and that was the only life she knew:

  • sickness, chemotherapy, and surgery.

  • When she was four, Alex asked her parents

  • could she put a lemonade stand in the front yard?

  • She didn't want to buy anything for herself,

  • she wanted to use the money

  • to give it to doctors to help other kids with cancer.

  • OK, in a single day, Alex's lemonade stand raised $2,000!

  • But, here's what I love:

  • soon after that, other lemonade stands started popping up,

  • all with Alex's name on it.

  • Eventually, they raised $200,000.

  • And then Alex had a new goal.

  • She said let's raise $1,000,000.

  • On June 12, 2004,

  • hundreds of lemonade stands started opening up

  • in every state in the country.

  • Ordinary people selling water and sugar and lemons

  • to help kids with cancer.

  • Nearly two months later,

  • Alex died while her parents were holding her hands.

  • She was 8 years old.

  • But before she died, Alex said that next year's goal

  • should be $5,000,000.

  • Today, her dream has raised over $45,000,000

  • and it is still going strong!

  • One idea, one girl, one big dream.

  • And you know what she said?

  • This is a direct quote before she died.

  • She said, "Oh, we can do it!

  • If other people will help me, I think we can do it.

  • I know we can do it!"

  • You dream big,

  • I don't care how old you are,

  • and don't let anyone tell you otherwise,

  • you will change history.

  • And that leads me to the second thing I tell my kids:

  • work hard.

  • Such a simple one, everyone knows this one.

  • Work hard.

  • I saw this one for my father

  • and my father died a few months ago.

  • When I was growing up in Brooklyn,

  • ok, my father, he worked hard.

  • He had no money, we had, no money growing up.

  • He worked every Saturday, every Sunday.

  • I watched first-hand every weekend what hard work was.

  • And I saw that the hardest work of all

  • is being resilient when you're facing failure.

  • When I started writing my first book,

  • my first book got me 24 rejection letters.

  • To be clear, there are only 20 publishers,

  • I got 24 rejection letters, OK?

  • That means that some people were writing me twice

  • to make sure I got the point.

  • But it wasn't until I was writing my ninth book,

  • a book of heroes for my son,

  • that I found my favorite story of working hard through failure.

  • It was a story that a friend told me about the Wright brothers.

  • That every time the Wright brothers went out to fly their plane,

  • they would bring enough extra materials for multiple crashes.

  • That means for every time they went out,

  • they knew they would fail.

  • And they would crash and rebuild,

  • and crash and rebuild,

  • and that's why they took off.

  • I love that story.

  • I wanted my son to hear that story,

  • I wanted my daughter to hear that story,

  • I wanted everyone to know that if you dream big

  • and you work hard and you fight failure,

  • you will change history

  • and do what no one on this planet has ever done before.

  • And that leads me to the final thing I tell them:

  • stay humble.

  • Here's the thing:

  • if you invent the world's first airplane,

  • or Superman,

  • or a multi-million dollar lemonade stand,

  • you don't need to be humble.

  • You can get a tattoo on your face that says, "I'm the best!"

  • Right?

  • But pay attention here:

  • no one likes a jerk.

  • In fact, the world needs fewer loudmouths,

  • so stay humble!

  • When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence,

  • you know he never took credit for writing it while he was alive?

  • It wasn't until he died and it was in his obituary

  • that the average American found out that he was the author.

  • That's humble.

  • So there's the big secret:

  • dream big,

  • work hard,

  • stay humble.

  • "Wait," you're saying, "that's it?"

  • "What, you tell me a bunch of stories and what?

  • How do I change history?"

  • Here's the answer:

  • all history ever is

  • is a bunch of stories,

  • conflicting stories,

  • big stories,

  • little stories,

  • our stories.

  • So how do you change history?

  • All you got to do is write your story.

  • OK? No, I'm serious, this is it.

  • If people think history is a bunch of facts and dates you got to memorize,

  • that's not what history is at all.

  • History is a selection process,

  • and it chooses every single one of us every single day.

  • The only question is, do you hear the call?

  • And that leads me to the most important thing I'm going to tell you here:

  • you will change history.

  • Some of you will change it in big ways,

  • affecting millions of people.

  • Others of you will do it in more personal ways,

  • helping a family member or someone who needs it.

  • But let me tell you right now,

  • one is not more important than the other.

  • If you help people in mass or one-by-one,

  • that's how history gets changed,

  • when you take action.

  • But when you start writing your story

  • and you get scared, as we all inevitably do,

  • I want you to know one thing:

  • no one is born a hero.

  • Every single person that we talked about today,

  • whether they were a 26 year old preacher,

  • or two 17 year old nerds,

  • or little girl who had cancer,

  • every single one of them had moments

  • where they doubted themselves,

  • like you, like me.

  • They had moments where they worried about school

  • and friendships

  • and would they be accepted by others,

  • like you, like me.

  • They had moments where they worried about loneliness and failure

  • and would they ever succeed,

  • like you, like me.

  • But the best part is, you don't have to start

  • a multi-million dollar lemonade stand to change the world,

  • all you got to do is help one person,

  • be kind to one person, that's the answer.

  • It's my core belief,

  • it is in every story I just told you.

  • I believe ordinary people change the world.

  • I don't care how much money you have,

  • I don't care where you go to school,

  • that is all nonsense to me.

  • I believe in regular people and their ability to affect change in this world.

  • I believe in my father,

  • and a 25 year old daredevil named Amelia,

  • and a little girl who sells lemonade like nobody's business.

  • And it's why I believe in that very first hero we were talking about today, Superman.

  • To me, the most important part of the story isn't Superman.

  • The most important part of the story is Clark Kent.

  • And you want to know why?

  • Because we're all Clark Kent.

  • We all know what it's like to be boring and ordinary

  • and wish we could do something incredibly beyond ourselves.

  • But here's the real news:

  • we all can do something incredibly beyond ourselves.

  • I got 24 rejection letters on my first book,

  • 24 people who told me to give it up,

  • and I don't look back on the experience and say,

  • "I was right, and they were wrong, and haha on them."

  • What I look back and realize is that every single one of those rejection letters

  • told me to work harder, to dream bigger,

  • and you better believe it,

  • made me more humble,

  • but it also made me want it more than anything.

  • So whatever it is you dream big about,

  • whatever it is you work hard for,

  • don't let anyone tell you,

  • you're too young

  • and don't let anyone tell you no.

  • Every life makes history.

  • And every life is a story.

  • Thank you.

You know what the greatest secret of history is?

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A2 TED-Ed history lemonade humble superman alex

【TED-Ed】Write your story, change history - Brad Meltzer

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/05/17
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