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From Dyslexic Introvert With Tourette's To Award-winning Author and Public Speaker
Standing at the picture window and looking down on the rolling green pasture spilling into the cornfield in the valley below always brought some solace. Past the cornfield was the blue water of Cross Lake. The sight of the water always seemed to cool the overactive neurons firing in my brain.
I’m Jeffery Dale Cole and this is the story of how a dyslexic introvert with Tourette’s became an award winning author and a public speaker. Perhaps, along the way you’ll discover some secretes for turning your, so called, troubles into triumphs as I did. That’s my hope for you.
As the youngest of six, there was always a swarm of chaotic activity around me and as a small child, I was always being scooped up and carried off to the next destination of chaos. Looking back now after having been diagnosed with several neurological disorders, I’ve realized that I developed a defense mechanism to the chaos when I was very young. I’ve also discovered that the best offense is a good defense. But more on that later.
As a child I didn’t know it but I have a neurological disorder that many now would know as Tourette’s Syndrome. That condition carries with it some rather extreme social anxiety. All I knew as a child was that I had a desire to escape the chaos. All I wanted was to go into my little cocoon and maybe invite one other person into that safe place with me. So, I did just that. No matter what chaos was going on around me, I retreated into my imagination. I would sit quietly in a crowded room and take adventures in my mind. Gazing out our large picture window over Cross Lake, I would go on many adventures without even leaving the living room.
When I was old enough to learn to read and write, I discovered something else about myself that I later learned was a condition called dyslexia—where, among other things, the symbols of written and spoken language get all jumbled and turned around. It was yet more chaos in my life. There I was, an intelligent and creative kid with no way to express my stories to the world while thinking I was stupid. So, deeper I went into my solitary self-defense mechanism.
The numerous adventures I had taken in my imagination stirred in me a desire to go on actual adventures in the real world and that is exactly what I did. By the age of fifteen I had trekked the foothills of the Himalayas, walked the Taj Mahal and set my watch by Big Ben. I wanted desperately to leave my little hometown and seek knowledge and adventure for the rest of my life but, as I had already learned, new places meant new people meant more anxiety. Life is full of catch twenty twos. Adventure was an escape but I often would escape right into a new source of anxiety. Also, I desperately wanted to leave my little hometown but the one person I had let into my cocoon of safety was there. Like a magnet I was drawn to where she was and I did not want to escape that pull.
That problem was easily solved. I married her and brought her with me anywhere I went. Turns out she also has a tendency toward wanderlust and is quite satisfied with our little party of two. In fact, I think she may avoid social situations even more than I do. We were meant for each other.
After many years of ups and downs, a real crisis hit us hard. Seemingly out of the blue, I was having some strange, unexplainable physical symptoms. As we first began to seek medical help, there seemed to be no real answers and as we did our own research, my future looked to be very bleak. None of our friends and family really knew the extent and severity of what we were going through but, for the two of us, it was a life defining season.
When you’re faced with mortality you start to ask yourself big questions like, “why am I here?” And, “what’s the one thing I was supposed to accomplish?” There’s much more story here. More than I have time for now but I feel strongly that sharing my story of overcoming dyslexia to become a writer and overcoming Tourette’s and social anxiety to become a public speaker is part of my answer to those looming questions. I know there are many who struggle in the same way as I did. If that’s you, It’s my desire to help straighten the path before you.
For me, the clearest answer to the “what am I supposed to accomplish” question was: “finish your story!” I had been creating many stories in my head all my life but there was one in particular I had been writing out in the form of a novel. The idea of writing out a whole novel was one of the more scary thoughts I had had in my life but I now had clarity and motivation to see it through.
If I was going to do this, I needed a plan. Here’s the plan: BE BUILDING SPACE IN LIFE FOR THE IMPORTANT THINGS! I needed space in my schedule and budget for accomplishing such a herculean task and my health and finances had already revealed the standard American diet and the “normal” take on personal finances to be insufficient for the task. I also needed to think long and hard about what the important things really are.
Redefining the important things and building space for them in my schedule and budget turned this dyslexic introvert with Tourette’s into an award winning author and public speaker. In 2018 my debut novel, Emergent Vision: The Babel Resurgence – Book 1 won the Author Academy Award for science fiction.
This plan for building space in my life and redefining the important things also helped me to prioritize people. You know, the very “society” that had caused so much anxiety in me throughout my life. These posts are for you, the people. I don’t know what, so called, disabilities and troubles you have but I do know that some of the concepts and techniques that helped me to turn mine into triumphs can also help you. As I mentioned earlier, the best offense is a good defense. I was able to turn my defense mechanism of imaginative escapism into a career as a novelist. You have a similar superpower within you just waiting to emerge. It is my hope that my books, courses, and Building Space Purpose Training will help you to experience that emergent vision.