12/19/2014 10:39 am ET Updated Feb 18, 2015

How I Went From a Special Education Reading and Writing Class to a No. 1 Bestselling Author By 22


When I was in the third grade, I was told that my reading and writing skills were weak. This was the truth, a fact pure and simple. After transferring schools at the end of that year, I had the opportunity to make a new start. Switching schools, however, didn't make my learning disability magically go away. After my parents, teachers, and I had a meeting, they decided it was best for me to learn in a smaller classroom called "special education."

It broke me. It crushed me.

I felt powerless, hopeless and stupid. I was a misfit, through and through. My beliefs about who I was and my capabilities caused me all kinds of discomfort, mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

The way I lived my life was a direct result of all these limiting beliefs. It took me a long time to realize this. In this article, I will discuss how your belief system determines your path in life, using myself as the primary example. I will also reveal ways that you can change your beliefs in order to change your path.

Beliefs Are the Cause, Your Lifestyle is the Effect

After struggling for years, I finally came to understand that it was my belief system that was causing the effect of my lifestyle. I had done all kinds of tinkering with the effect, whether it was with material goods, relationships, and so on, without getting any lasting change, or the results I so desperately wanted. The problem was that I wasn't digging deep enough past the effect to get to the cause. I needed to change the causal point of my discomfort. I needed to change my belief system.

Let me share my story so you can get a clearer picture of how I went from a special education class for reading and writing to a no. 1 bestseller by the age of 22.

The Stigma of a Learning Disability

The learning disability label so often contains the assumption that you are not intelligent. The real truth of the matter is that I just learned differently than most of the other kids. On the one hand, I was put into a special classroom, every day, for nine years, where I was with students that learned the same way I did, but I felt separated and isolated from others in my grade. On the other hand, I was also discovering ways to tap into my genius, sharing the attention of elite teachers with only a handful of other students.

Although it was unspoken, (most of the time), the nagging thought was always there: Tommy isn't that smart compared to the majority of students. I was completely disempowered because I believed it.

I remember being in one of the many meetings during those times and clearly hearing this: "Tommy will not go to college. His ability to learn won't translate." This is not exactly a positive, uplifting, or inspiring message, right? I don't blame the person who said that. That person was just trying to be realistic, but it is all too easy to crush another person's dreams, rather than encourage them.

What allowed me to see through these limited beliefs, in my senior year, was something that had actually happened nine years earlier, in fifth grade -- something that stuck in my subconscious during all those years.

Let me paint the picture of that all-important fifth grade moment: I was drawing in my special education class, while my teacher was in the middle of a math lecture. It was a room of five students seated around one table, which made it easier for the teacher to see what we were doing. She stopped the class after seeing the logo I was drawing. My book was literally covered with the Penn State Nittany Lion football logo. She looked at me and said with such conviction and grace, "Tommy, you will go to Penn State, and you will play football for them."

I immediately felt goose bumps all over my body. I remember thinking to myself, "Really? Someone else believes it too?"

But that empowering belief was buried deep inside me, held hostage by my limiting beliefs. Nine years later, came the major breakthrough of subtracting those limiting beliefs, which is what allowed the empowering beliefs to surface and fuel my life.

I am proud to say that I recently graduated from Penn State, with a 3.20 grade point average!

I was able to do it in part because of that teacher in fifth grade, who gifted me with a new, empowering belief about myself.

My point is this: You have the ability to do anything you wish, but you must first examine your true beliefs about achieving these things. If there are limiting beliefs holding you back, they must be replaced with empowering beliefs.

Changing Your Beliefs

Changing your beliefs begins with questioning your assumptions about it to see if they are flawed. My primary flawed assumption about my learning disability is that it necessarily meant I was unintelligent. I started by asking, "Is this true? Am I 100 percent sure this is true?" I realized I had my doubts about it. Then I asked myself, "How do I react when I believe this idea?" Obviously, I felt like dolt. Then I asked myself, "How would I feel without this belief?" And that's when the lightness and joy kicked in. Then I replaced this limited belief with an empowering one. Following, I took the first necessary action to build my skills behind this new belief.

This is a very simple process that you can go through in less than five minutes, but it can also change your life. Please feel free to contact me, via Facebook, or use the comments area below to learn more about saying goodbye to your limiting beliefs and saying hello to the empowering beliefs that will put you on the path to where you want to be. You can also check out my new book, "How to Find Your Passion: 10 Simple Steps to Living a Purpose Driven Life," where there are more power tactics to unleashing your greatness.