Tragedy produces victims and victors.
An article in Southwest Airlines magazine tells the story of Rob Summers, a young man who suffered a spinal cord injury that threatened the course of his life. Summers could have lived as a victim, yet Summers rose to meet and beat the challenge. Against all odds he is on his way to walking again.
The article is a bit long so I captured some of the highlights here on what might help you overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Let me give you some background of Summer’s situation. Rob was an up and coming baseball star, but a hit and run driver left him in a pool of blood for four hours in a parking lot. He was finally discovered and rushed to the hospital but he life was forever changed.
The article says about spinal cord injuries…
People with spinal-cord injuries like Summers’ are far more likely to be unemployed and single. They have higher medical costs and suffer from very high rates of stroke, infection, and heart disease, which means they tend to die young. Statistics suggested that Summers’ injury would shorten his life by almost 20 years.
But Summers is working to beat the odds. Here are the highlights of what helped him turn around his condition.
1. A positive attitude not a victim mentality…
Summers, however, wasn’t fazed. “You don’t know me,” he told the surgeon. “I will stand again, I will walk again, and I will play baseball.”
Perhaps the best predictor of an individual’s success is believing that if you don’t have the ability now, you can get the ability if you work hard and don’t give up on yourself.
2. Persistence and strategies…
Some might say that Summers’ accomplishments came from a lucky star or his innate abilities. But ability, says Halvorson, “is just one small piece of the puzzle. Research shows that effort, persistence, commitment, and the strategies you use to reach your goal are far more powerful predictors of who succeeds and who fails. Self-discipline, and not giving up when obstacles arise, actually significantly out-predict IQ on every measure of achievement I’ve ever seen, including test scores and college grades.”
3. Specific goals…
The recipe from Rob Summers’ grandfather instructed him to set high, optimistic goals. “When your brain detects a big discrepancy between where you are now and where you want to be,” says Halvorson, “it throws resources at it, such as attention and effort, often without you realizing it. Challenging goals mean more resources, which in turn mean greater success.”
Psychologists have discovered that if our plans are extremely specific they double the chance of success. “This is really key,” Halvorson says. “People routinely fail to think about the steps they will need to take to actually make success happen. Specificity is essential, otherwise the critical actions just don’t get taken.”
4. A belief in God’s personal help…
…the goals in turn gave him a habit of mind, and a faith—faith in himself, and in, well, It Works author RHJ calls it the Great Power. RHJ also calls it Emmanuel, which is Hebrew for “God is with us.”
5. Monitoring progress and then adjust…
“It’s not enough to just monitor progress,” she says. “You need to be assessing it, asking yourself what you’re doing right, and where you’re going wrong. Do I need to seek advice or guidance from experts? More often than not, success means changing strategies along the way to adapt to obstacles you didn’t plan for.” Such as a hit-and-run.
“It took away my lifelong goal and dream of being a baseball player,” Summers says. But in an odd way he realizes that it was also good luck. “Without the injury,” he says, “I never would have met and fallen in love with my girlfriend. And this procedure could help millions of people around the world. This is bigger than baseball; this is a chance to give people hope.”
Summers’ thankfulness was not only for meeting his true love but realizing that he could not bring hope to others if he had not first experienced this tragedy. In a way, he sees this tragedy as a gift so that he can turn around and help others overcome the same problem.
Now you have a choice. Will you choose to be a victim and let your hardship take you out? Or will you follow Rob’s model and be the victor over your hardship?
Question: What tempts you to live as a victim? What have you done to be the victor over your circumstances? Leave your comment below.