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Expected to die, today he’s inspiring others to truly live.

World-renowned inspirational speaker + national bestselling author John O’Leary wants to help you wake up from accidental living so you can do, be, achieve and impact more through your life.

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  • Every Monday, John shares a quick burst of inspiration to help start your week on fire.
  • Every Thursday, John interviews an amazing guest on their story, successes, failures, lessons, and life to help you uncover tips to apply in yours.

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Apr 27, 2017

"Sometimes we hold onto the life we think we're supposed to have. But in letting go, we get new possibilities."

Janine Shepherd grew up an athlete in rural Australia. At 24, she was training for her first Olympics. On a 5-hour training ride, she was hit by a truck. 

Janine was left with a broken neck and back, massive internal bleeding and blood pressure at 40 over nothing. Janine Shepherd was not expected to survive.

Miraculously, 10 days later, the internal bleeding stopped. She was in the hospital for six months. When she came home, she was paralyzed from the waste down, wrapped in a plaster body cast and attached to a catheter. She was told she'd never be able to do any of the things she did before.

Janine decided "Maybe I can't do the things I did before, but I am going to do something extraordinary!"

You don't want to miss what Janine has done in the 20+ years since her accident. Join us on this amazing interview.


  • A one time Olympic-destined skier, Janine has found deeper purpose in "hills" - "The magic happens on the other side of the hill. You don't have to like hills, but you have to learn to love them; to understanding the value in challenge."
  • The gift of rock bottom is that there is no where to hide. It doesn't show you who you are; it shows you who are not.
  • I let go of all of my Olympic dreams and, in that moment, I realized the only way to heal comes not from running from an experience but living through it.
  • Sometimes we hold onto the life we think we are supposed to have. But in letting go we get new possibilities.
  • The day she decided to become a pilot, she was still covered in a body cast. It was her dream and it changed her life; it gave her a reason to get out of bed.
  • She learned to manage her chronic pain through focus and acceptance.
  • I am not my body. This was the most important thing I've learned.
  • Get her book Defiant: "Say yes to life regardless of your challenges, that's defiance."
  • Hear her TED talk here.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. "We want to know that our life counts and has meaning. There's no meaning of life, there's only meaning in life and we create that meaning by how we live."

2. Tomorrow you discover your wealthy uncle shockingly dies at the age of 103; leaving you millions. What would you do? I would love to find a cure for spinal cord injury. 

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? Nothing. Nothing in that house really counts. They are just things.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? Jesus and Buddha. I would ask: "How do we get people to remember that it's all about love, tolerance and acceptance?"

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? When my daughter was learning to ride a pony, her riding instructor said to me: "Hasten slowly." What it means to me is slow down, be deliberate, savor the experience.

6. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at age 20? Hasten slowly. What you think is important now, when you get older you'll realize it wasn't.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Janine embraced her defiant human spirit. 


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