|November 17, 2016||0|
Client: Vision Australia
Project: Carols by Candlelight
Date: 2 November 2016
Lorin Nicholson, 47, Brisbane
To say Lorin Nicholson is an inspiration doesn’t do him justice. A loving husband, father to four children, an award-winning musician, best-selling author, compelling keynote speaker, record-breaking cyclist, experienced remedial therapist and successful businessman, Lorin has accomplished more in his 47 years than most would ever dream of.
Lorin is not just your run-of- the-mill overachiever, however. He was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), leaving him legally blind. As a child he had 10 per cent vision, which meant he could only read the biggest letter at the top of the eye chart. Today he has 5 per cent eyesight, which means he can see light and dark and large shapes, but he now relies on a white cane to get around.
Rather than see his condition as a hindrance, however, Lorin credits his success to being born blind. “Blindness in my life has taught me how to cope with change, how to cope with challenges, how to cope with a world that’s moving so quickly around you, and having to problem solve your way through that,” Lorin says.
It’s this attitude that inspired Lorin’s career change in 2003, when delivering a one-off speech at a local high school saw him give up his successful business as a remedial therapist and become one of Australia’s most sought after motivational speakers.
“My father-in- law, who was a Deputy Principal, invited me to tell my story to a group of year 10 students, and they were blown away by my achievements and attitude to life. That was the turning point for me. Instead of healing people’s backs, I decided to help them in a different way,” Lorin says.
“We’re living in a world today where, blindness aside, there are a lot of real challenges and stresses facing people. We need to develop resilience to cope with that sort of stress, and I gain great satisfaction from helping others see the light at the end of their own tunnel.”
In an uncanny twist of fate, Lorin attributes his unique career path to a vision and vocation assessment he undertook with Vision Australia as a teenager, which identified that the best career paths for Lorin were in psychology or sports medicine.
“They said that I would make a great sports therapist or a motivational speaker and, ironically, that gave me a clear vision for the future ahead and what my life path could be,” Lorin says.
“Back when I had that assessment with Vision Australia in 1986, I could never have imagined – and they could never have imagined – the impact that service would have on me, my family, and the hundreds of thousands of people I have reached over the years.”
Lorin has since gone on to return the favour to Vision Australia through his impressive cycling journeys to raise funds and awareness for services for people who are blind or have low vision. In 2010, Lorin and his brother, who also has RP, became the first people to ride a tandem bike across Australia from Perth to Sydney, and in 2011, Lorin and his son Andrew, then 17, rode from Brisbane to Melbourne where Lorin performed on guitar at his fourth Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight.
With five albums to his name, a golden guitar nomination, and the 2015 music producer of the year award at the Australian Celtic Music Awards, Lorin’s virtuoso skills as a guitarist have been a welcome addition to the Carols. Over the years, he has performed alongside household names including Anthony Callea, Gorgi Coghlan, the Australian Boys Choir, Christie Whelan and Patrick Roberts.
“To perform at the Carols is an incredible experience,” Lorin says.
“There’s this amazing spirit of Christmas and a sense of unity – the way it brings the nation together. To be able to play the guitar with all the feeling and emotion I can muster to enhance that unity and spirit and give the nation something positive, it’s an experience beyond words.”
Lorin’s wife of 24 years Lisa and his children Andrew, 22, Emmalyn, 21, Harriet, 19, and Tom, 17, couldn’t be more proud of him when he’s performing at the Carols, and likewise Lorin couldn’t be more proud of his family.
“Ultimately my greatest achievement and sense of satisfaction and meaning is my family. Yes, I’ve won some big awards, I’m a businessman and a successful musician and author, but that means nothing really,” Lorin says.
“What means the most is seeing my own family, my own children, grow up to be happy, well- adjusted, successful human beings. That’s my greatest accomplishment – and having a marriage that has lasted.”
Lorin believes his own parents played a big role in his can-do attitude to life and his advice to parents of children who are blind or have low vision is to encourage them to take risks.
“Don’t be afraid to allow your children to take risks. Don’t wrap them up in cotton wool and don’t treat them like a blind person – treat them like you would anyone else. That’s what my parents did.”
And to the children he says, “never be afraid to fail.”
“That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned in life. Sometimes it’s not until you face adversity that you really stop to question what’s important to you, and how much you want it. We should never be afraid of adversity in our lives – it is the greatest motivator, innovator and inspiration in our lives. And when you learn to use it in the right way, that’s when you will unlock the greatest potential.”