The great myth of “talent” is one of the main things holding students back. They tend to think that someone is born with natural abilities. They buy into the notion that they just aren’t smart or aren’t good at math. If only they could understand that resilience is the ultimate ingredient in the recipe of success.

That being said everyone does have some kind of talent. Everyone has something that makes them special. However, many times the things that make people different are the very things that others will make fun of them for.

Students tend to think that being different is bad. They are afraid to stand out from the crowd. Instead of doing their personal best they just go along with the status quo. Without even realizing it, they end up simply becoming average.

Everyone is unique and different. Being different is what makes you stand out and ultimately makes you successful. Matt empowers students to embrace what makes them different, do their personal best, and be resilient.

Matt Wilhelm riding BMX Flatland at the Red Bull Circle of Balance in Japan.
Riding at the Red Bull Circle of Balance in Tokyo, Japan.

Key Takeaways

  • The myth of an “overnight success”
  • Everyone is unique and different
  • Being different is good: it helps you stand out
  • Practice and hard work trump “talent”
  • Have a back up plan / Go to college
  • Resilience: the key to overcoming life’s challenges

The Long Story Short

At first glance it would appear that Matt Wilhelm is an “overnight success.” He won America’s Got Talent YouTube competition propelling him straight into the live round of shows. In one week he went from sitting on his couch watching the show to performing live on stage in front of 15-million people.

However, it took Matt many years of hard work and practice to get to that last “overnight.” Hard work and practice are much more important than talent.

After an amazing performance during his whirlwind experience the judges gave him rave reviews. The toughest judge even called him a “Million Dollar Act” because he was, among other things, “different.”

However, Matt never thought being “different” was good. In fact being different was the very reason he was made fun of growing up. BMX was not popular, and he had to go through some pretty rough times. He played saxophone in the school band and was a straight-A student, common reasons some kids use to pick on others.

In spite of this Matt stayed true to who he was. He earned a music scholarship from Millikin University, graduated with honors, and become a two-time National Champion for BMX. Matt says, “You are unique. You are one-of-a-kind. You are different. There is nobody else like you in the entire world, so be proud of who you are.”

Not only were your bike tricks awesome but your story was too. You showed us that just because you are different on the outside does not mean that people should be mean to you.
It means you're awesome in your own way and you should be proud of who you are.
Thanks for coming to my school. You were inspiring and I'm glad you came.

Kaitlin -Middle School Student (Received via Facebook)

Watch Matt’s School Assembly Preview