What’s the first thing you notice about John Coutis?
Is it that he has no legs? Or that he gets around on his custom skateboard? Or he likes to wear his favourite colour purple?
“That’s not the first thing you notice. Look how good looking I am. I’m a hotty,” he quipped at the year 12 students at Westfields Sports High School on Friday.
His old-school humorous approach to communicating some of life’s most important lessons has seen Mr Coutis – or JC – become Australia’s No.1 inspirational corporate and schools speaker.
This is the 20th year (the most of any school he has visited) he has spoke to students at the Fairfield West School.
He recalls speaking to countless superstars the school has produced as part of its sporting nursery.
His message is always the same: goal-setting, positivity, determination and respect.
And most importantly: resilience.
“It’s one thing I think a lot of kids lack,” he said.
“Resilience is vital in overcoming challenges.”
Mr Coutis knows a thing or two about overcoming challenges.
He was born with a severe physical disability in which doctors gave him little chance of survival and without the lower part of his body. It hasn’t stopped him from living a full and positive life.
It’s a message he conveys in his talks to students who are about to start their adult life.
“When I was born I could fit in the palm of a hand and doctors told my parents I wouldn’t last a day,” he said.
“Then they said a week. Wrong. A month came and went and they said there is no way I would make my first birthday. Well, almost 50 birthdays later and I’m still here loving life.”