Hugh Hefner always had multiple girlfriends. I can relate to Hugh. I don’t have multiple lady friends. But I always have several books in motion, simultaneously. I wish I could commit to just one at a time. But once an intriguing new book catches my eye, I can’t keep my hands off of it.
In October I read two books with a unique connection. They were both about men who lost use of their legs. This was purely coincidental. It wasn’t as if I was browsing the No Leg Function section of the library. But they were both great, inspirational stories that demonstrated that a strong mind is more important than an able body.
The first book I read was Stronger, by Jeff Bauman. Jeff had both of his legs blown off in the Boston Marathon bombing. But instead of letting the loss of his legs destroy him, as the title indicates, it made him stronger.
He was the key figure who helped the FBI identify the bombers. Even days after the bombing nobody knew who was behind it. Except Jeff. Following his life-saving surgeries he described Tamerlan Tsarnaev in amazing detail. He had stood next to Jeff, near the finish line of the marathon. They stared at each other for a moment. Jeff knew he was a bad dude. Tsarnaev soon disappeared, but he left his backpack at Jeff’s feet. Jeff noticed it a moment before it exploded, taking his legs with it.
Within just months of the bombing Jeff learned to walk again with artificial legs. He has become a hero in Boston. And his inspiring story was turned into a book (obviously) and a movie, in which he is played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
The Impossible Just Takes A Little Longer
The second book was The Impossible Just Takes A Little Longer by Art Berg. Art was in a car accident when he was 21 years old that left him a quadriplegic. No one would have faulted him for living a small life after the accident. But Art had other plans.
- He got married.
- He had three children.
- He started several businesses.
- He played wheelchair rugby.
- He became a highly sought after motivational speaker, giving 150 speeches a year.
- He was inducted into the prestigious National Speakers Hall of Fame.
- He completed a grueling, 7 day, 350 mile ultramarathon from Salt Lake City to St. George, Utah, in July, despite the fact that he can not sweat to cool himself. Oh, and he set the world record in the process.
- He wrote several books.
- He won a Super Bowl Ring for his motivational efforts with the Baltimore Ravens
In the final pages of the book Art recounts a profound recent event in his life. He was on a plane with landing gear problems. As the plane circled to burn off fuel before attempting a dangerous landing, he reflected on his life and all that had happened since the accident. He realized that his accident had pushed him to become a stronger, more motivated person. He did more with his life because of the accident than he would have, had he not faced such a challenge (you’ll have to read the book to learn what happened when the plane touched down).
I loved his attitude. As I finished the book I noticed his website listed on the back jacket of the book (www.artberg.com). I typed the site address into my browser, but got an error message. So I googled Art Berg. The top result was his obituary. He died in February of 2002. The same year the book came out. He was 39 years old.
As you think about the obstacles that stand in your way, and the hardships you face, think about Jeff Bauman and Art Berg. I have faced setbacks. But nothing like losing my legs like Jeff did. I have started my own business, I am married and have three kids. But I am not in a wheelchair with only partial use of my upper extremities like Art.
Both Jeff and Art used their adversity to make them stronger. That’s what I am trying to do everyday. That’s why I started the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. I wanted to try something hard. Because the harder something is to do the greater the reward.
If life doesn’t throw any adversity your way, find it yourself. Take on challenges that stretch, test or torture you. They’ll make you stronger. They’ll keep you growing. Growth and progress towards your goals, even if there is significant suffering as a result, will lead to a happier life.