O’s Success Tips: Beleive In Your Ability

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He crouched on the starting blocks, his hands nervously placed behind the bright yellow line on the dusty Rome track. His head faced down. He was focused, simply anticipating the sound that would eventually set him free. And finally it came, the sound of a gun shot and off he went dashing around the 400 meter track. At first he stumbled, but slowly he recovered propelling his way to the front of the pack. Something about him was different, his movement was awkward and he appeared to be running on air! He crossed the finish line and finally it made sense, Oscar Pistorius just ran a 400 meter race with no legs!

The first time I heard the Oscar Pistorius story, I was moved. Here was an individual that was born with a child hood defect that caused both legs to be amputated between the knee and ankle. He started out his life at a disadvantage, but rather than making excuses with his disability, he instead focused on the things he could do. Armed with two metallic carbon fiber blades attached to his amputated legs, Oscar Pistorius taught himself to run. And run he did, starting an amazing journey that saw him break several Paralympics records, before doing the unthinkable by competing in the South African 400 meters championship against able bodied men.

Majority of us will never fully understand what it means to go through life being physically disabled. But disability has never been about the action rather it has always been about the reaction. What do you do when you are crippled financially with a job loss? Do you fall down and stop running the race of life? Or do we equip ourselves with reinforcing blades of steel to carry us through our difficult situations? All too often we choose the former, adapting ourselves to a paralyzing mindset that traps us in the quagmire of now versus the possibility of tomorrow.

During my summer 2000 semester at the University of Houston, I found myself in an Oscar Pistorius position. One that would threaten to cripple my chances of following my life long goal of graduating from college…I received a phone call from my brother informing me that the funds from home had all but evaporated, due to ongoing economic hardships that had come to plague Nigeria. I felt a certain rush of weakness trickle through my body. A million and one questions flowed through my mind, how was I going to pay for the next semester, how was I going to survive, the tears that flowed freely down my face, did little to ameliorate my current circumstance. In the past I had applied for numerous scholarships and jobs, but my status as an International Student meant that 90% of my applications were rejected. The daunting statistics plus the breaking news of the moment effectively crippled me.

But that night as I sat in bed, I began to realize that no amount of crying would change my situation. No amount of self pity would alleviate my condition. I decided at that moment to double my efforts to overcome the daunting statistics brought on me by my International status. I got up everyday and applied for every and any scholarship I could get my hands on. I applied for every job and internship I could apply for. My focus slowly moved away from the disability to the ability. In December of 2004 I graduated from the University of Houston, without owing a dollar amount to the University. Only because I was able to turn my focus away from the disability to the ability.

We are all running a continuous race through life. Along the way we will face circumstances, some of them physical, some of them emotional and some tragic. But the issue has never been about the circumstance. But rather about us, about how we react to the circumstance. How we react when it seems like our feet have been knocked from underneath us, do we sit down and quit the race? Or do we strap on blades of steel and keep racing? Only time will tell.

“You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”
Writing inspired by Oscar Pistorius 400m run in the Rome Golden League Contest

Okechukwu Ofili
Africa’s #1 Success Coach
Copyright © 2008 Ofili Speaks, Inc. All rights reserved

Ofili

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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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