In every walks of life, there are ups and downs, sadness and happiness, denial and acceptance, and all that there is, opposite of almost everything we can think of. Being disabled imposes a serious condition to face hardships and challenges in your daily life, and you cannot avoid that you would become emotional and be filled with negative perspectives in life that make you become unproductive and disinterested in many things. Achieving your goals, dreams and aspirations become even more questionable because of your disability. But you don’t have to act like you own all the problems in the world that you can no longer move on. As there are over a billion people with disabilities in the world, many successful disabled persons have proven that disablement is not a reason for one to be a failure all his or her life.
Take a look at Stephen Hawking, the wheel-chair bound physicist, and one of the most influential scientists of modern times had proven what he wrote on the first-ever world disability report back in 2011 where he stated: “Disability need not be an obstacle to success.” True enough that despite his condition or disability, he had not stopped pursuing his career and had developed and made so many meaningful contributions in the world of science and discoveries, thus he is who he is today.
Who would think a blind man can race in deserts, mountains, across oceans, and raced over forty-three days to the South Pole? Oh Yes! This man exists, and his name is Mark Pollock, a forum young global leader who was blinded at age twenty-two, and from being an athlete, he became a young man with a cane, lost and unsure of how to live his life. Mark Pollock did not let this disability he acquired at a young age to stop him from finding a deeper meaning and purpose of his life to do greater things, and so he advocates as well with other leaders in science, technology and communications towards funding and fast track a cure for paralysis, which was his condition as well after incurring another accident on his tenth anniversary of going blind. He had a choice: to let his disability define him for the rest of his life, or to continue fighting. There was only ever one way it was going to go.
Would you not know Nick Vujicic? Well, Nick Vujicic, the 32-year-old president of motivational speech marketer Attitude is Altitude. He was born without arms or legs. Though he struggles with some practicalities of everyday living such as brushing his teeth, for example, he has become an in-demand inspirational speaker, and he had motivated a lot of people across many nations. There is no medical explanation for Vujicic’s physical disability. He has an extremely rare congenital disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome. He has a small foot on his left hip which helps him balance. And despite the absence of his limbs, he is able to perform many things on his own. He can type, pick things up between his toes and even kick a ball. The self-confessed adrenalin junkie, someone who you would not believe an extreme adventurer, regularly swims and has gone skydiving. Confidence didn’t come naturally to Vujicic. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, he struggled with depression and was bullied at school. When he was just 10 years old, he attempted suicide. Over time, Vujicic worked on adopting a positive attitude, and, at 17, an encounter with his high school janitor inspired him to go into public speaking. The charismatic Australian now travels the world addressing huge crowds, including business groups and schoolchildren. He has visited more than 50 countries and given thousands of talks. All you’ve got to do is to seize that moment and have the courage as you set in your mind that there is nothing that you can do.
America’s first Goodwill Ambassador, Helen Keller is both blind and deaf even before he was two years old. Keller was born in 1880, and the services for disabilities at that time were not as extensive as today, but full support from her mother was so great that she was able to seek the best education and graduated from Radcliffe College, becoming the first-ever deaf-blind person to earn a degree in bachelor of art. Keller’s achievements as a writer and a social activist led to the collection of almost five hundred speeches and essays on topics as varied as birth control and fascism in Europe, which was all contained in the “Helen Keller Archives”. Her writings are now used as referenced for scholarly studies that today’s leaders and successful professionals are using towards achieving success in life. See, your disability has its purpose, and living with it to the best that you can is what sets the difference.
“Necessity is the mother of invention, and Ralph’s physical limitations only served to fuel his determination to live independently and prove to society that people with physical disabilities can participate fully and actively in life.” Are the words that Ralph Braun left us to ponder and reflect upon. Ralph Braun was still a young boy when he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, an incurable group of genetic diseases that leads to a loss of muscle mass. A few years after his diagnosis, Ralph began to lose his ability to walk. While doctors warned him he would never be able to lead an independent life, the young boy was already proving people wrong, building the first battery-powered scooter. His passion would eventually lead him to establish wheelchair manufacturer BraunAbility. Ralph Braun died in 2013, but his legacy lives on.
Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s most famous artist was born with spina bifida, a condition that can cause defects in the spinal cord. At six, she contracted polio, which left one leg much thinner than the other. In spite of these challenges, she was an active child, but at 18 a bus accident left her with serious injuries. It was while recovering from the accident that Frida discovered her love of painting. She would go on to be one of the most famous Surrealists in the world.
Think of this, if these people were able to succeed in giving meaning and purpose in their lives to influence people not only with disabilities but even people of all sorts, to do well in life, then there is nothing that you can do as well. So live at the present, enjoy and be occupied of the greatness that you can do, and be not consumed with your disability.