Labels seemingly set limits but real limitations come from within. “That’s harsh” you might think, growing defensive. Please do not take the comments personally. Many people let labels overshadow what really matters.
Heck, I allowed the label “cerebral palsy” to restrict me. Back in 2011 the idea came to my mind to complete a marathon. Quickly I dismissed the notion. “You have cerebral palsy” my internal voice reminded. “The way you walk your feet could not handle 26.2 miles. Not to mention you tire too easily due to the extra amount of energy you use to walk.”
Quite the reasonable mindset, you agree? Yes? Then how do you explain the fact I finished the 2017 Towpath Marathon?
Said accomplishment occurred thanks to a shift in perspective. I stopped dwelling on my diagnosis, my label. Instead I aimed my focus at what really matters.
What Really Matters!
Bet you I am able to guess the question swirling around your head presently. “Okay Zachary. What really matters?”
Thank you for asking. Fittingly you pluralized “matter” since what really matters stands twofold. First you must adopt a problem solving attitude. Identify specific issues oppose to conveniently referencing your label. See my previously noted marathon.
Originally I thought “I cannot complete a marathon. I have cerebral palsy.” However upon breaking down why CP would stop me the task became a lot more attainable.
“The way you walk your feet could not handle the 26.2 miles” I told myself. Here begins your problem solving approach. You identified a specific problem. Next you brainstorm possible solutions. Switching to Adidas athletic socks eased the pounding my feet endured training. Additionally maintaining a consistent foot care routine further supplied relief. Through regularly using a pumice stone calluses stayed manageable. Problem solved!
The latter problem solving example naturally transitions to the second aspect factoring into what really matters. Act! A solution only works after applied. Perchance I performed my foot care routine sporadically I fail to procure much benefit. Despite how fatigued I felt a certain day I persisted because my goal required such commitment.
Actually I should revise my wording describing the second aspect to read “Act consistently.” Commit to consistent action and your achievement becomes increasingly probable. Inevitable even, I dare say.
Two years I spent training prior to my first adventure at the Towpath, conquering a half marathon. Two years! Meanwhile I prepared a mere four months to finish the full marathon. Drastic difference made plausible courtesy an intensively consistent training schedule. Rather than providing those details though, I am done digressing. After all, your marathon most likely proves a metaphor.
To the Starting Line
Whatever your metaphorical marathon embodies, the beginning remains the same. Line up at the start! Forget labels. Pursue your desired feat deploying a problem solving mentality.
Multiple individuals stand out exemplifying the possibilities created once you disregard any label fastened to you. Particular names more known compared to others. Each one nonetheless support today’s premise.
Amidst the cerebral palsy community I am compelled to mention John W. Quinn. John served 20 years in the Navy despite his CP. A journey he documents inside his memoir Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy.*
Reading the memoir you learn John’s accomplished naval career began a year earlier. Due to poor balance John failed his original physical. Contrastingly to saying “I cannot join the Navy. I have cerebral palsy” John spent a year practicing the exercise which bested him. The second time John passed the Navy’s physical with ease.
Admittedly the abovementioned also deals with a case involving physical strength. Nevertheless your situation may entail different obstacles. Perhaps battling a learning disability, like dyslexia. Webster Dictionary defines dyslexia “a learning disability causing abnormal difficulty in reading and spelling.”
Well, I suppose you may cross off English teacher as a potential vocation. Odd considering an English teacher who heavily influenced me happens to deal with dyslexia. Influenced me to the extent I specifically named him in the “A Special Thanks To…” section opening my cerebral palsy memoir* Off Balanced. Adam Swirsky’s dyslexia surfaced an engaging conversation topic too in early 2017 when we met up to film the following Youtube video.
Your Turn Now!
Albeit my marathon, John W. Quinn’s naval career, or Adam Swirsky’s effectiveness teaching English the proof overwhelmingly encourages you. Forget labels! They simply distract you from what really matters.
What really matters remains twofold. First adopt a problem solving mindset. Identify specific concerns and brainstorm solutions. Then act consistently applying those solutions. You will go far with this approach.
So, can I ask? What does your metaphorical 26.2 miles look like? Keeping what really matters on your mind, what will you seek to accomplish? How? Comment below to share.
*Links to Off Balanced and Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy are Amazon LLC Associate Program links, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.