I Am 'Disabled!' I Am Lucky!
By Jim Lynch
College graduate, wrestler, team captain, Olympic Trials participant, coach, business owner, husband and father. I think that is a pretty impressive list of accomplishments. Oh yeah, I forgot one. I accomplished all of this in spite of the fact that I was born with cerebral palsy.
Disability Does Not Define
I have been able to achieve because I have never once said "why me," but I have always looked at my situation as "why not me?" We have things in life that we need to handle and every day is a competition. Every day either you win or you lose. Every day either you are going to beat obstacles you face or they will beat you. My disability is just one of my obstacles.
I have always looked at life as an endless amount of choices. I never look at anything as a certainty, predetermined or predestined. You choose your destiny—good or bad—by the amount of work you put in. To put it another way I will quote Ohio State University Wrestling Coach Tom Ryan. "Often times you have no control over what happens to you. You have 100% control over how you react to what happens to you." I didn't ask to be disabled, but as soon as I was old enough to realize what my lot in life was I made the CHOICE to make as much as I could out my life. Did I achieve every goal I ever had? Of course not, but I achieved a helluva lot more than if I had allowed my disability to beat me.
Disability Is an Opportunity
I tell my children, my teams and now you. My disability is life handing me an opportunity. I am lucky! I am lucky that I am not like everyone else. I am lucky that I standout. Everyone is lucky. Some more than others, but we are all lucky just the same. I am lucky because of the example that I have been to others.
When I was captain of the wrestling team in high school and college, I was not a real vocal leader, but I was the first in and the last to leave and I worked as hard as I possibly could in between. I knew I had a physical limitation, so I had to outwork everyone. I do believe that the example I was setting trickled down to the rest of the team. My value to the team wasn't in wins, but was in being able to say to each and every one of them, "If I can do it, you can do it."
Now to bring lessons learned in sports to everyday life. Since I had my kids I think a lot about the legacy that I am leaving for them and I really didn't think that I was leaving much of a mark in my little corner of the world. However, in recent years I have been surprised. I have been fortunate enough to have stayed in touch with a lot of old teammates and more than one has said to me as we have gotten older statements to the effect "you had the most energy of anyone on our team" and "you've spent your whole life overcoming physical obstacles." Recently, I saw an old teammate who is now a high school teacher and he said this to me, "I just thought you'd want to know that I am always telling my classes and my team about you and what you are about." I am proud of that legacy. Hopefully, today my kids and others are learning from my example. Hopefully, in the distant future, my kids and others are proud of the legacy I leave behind.
You, Too, Have the Ability to Inspire
I write a lot about my life's journey and the obstacles that I have overcome. After I have an article published, inevitably I get some feedback. Generally speaking, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. People I don't know at all will say what an inspiration I am. But getting back to my own little corner of the world, people I have known for many years will write to me after a piece is published saying they have watched me overcome my physical limitations and that I am a great example of the strength of the human spirit.
Let me say that sentence again. I am a great example of the strength of the human spirit. I have been that example not by doing anything special, but just by being me. Just by doing what I feel what I need to do to reach my goals. By doing what I need to do to win today and not allow my obstacles to beat me. That is why I am lucky. I have the ability to inspire, motivate and shape people just by my actions. SO DO YOU! GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WORLD AND NEVER BE SATISFIED!
About the Author:
Jim Lynch is a motivational and inspirational speaker capable of speaking on a variety topics, but he specializes in topics relating to the support of those with disabilities. He is successful entrepreneur, former Olympic Trials participant, husband and father of two. If you would like him to present a story of inspiration to your group, please don't hesitate to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @jiml0828, LinkedIn @James Lynch, Instagram @JimlSpeaker or Facebook @JLSpeaker.Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!