As I dreamt and planned out my future life I anticipated that I would be a wealthy stock broker walking into the Stock exchange in my double breasted suit every morning ready to conquer the world, or I was in my white lab coat as a doctor putting my stethoscope onto someone to diagnose their problems. I also dreamt that I would be the next Indiana Jones experiencing one adventure after another. My parents were poor and I wanted to be like those that I admired. Little did I know that I was bound for a longer and tougher course in life.
You see, as almost two year old, I was involved in a near fatal car accident where a drunk driver ran a red light and crushed the car that I was in to the width of my car seat. I suffered a broken skull, and nearly broke most of the bones on the right side of my body. There were nearly 300 pieces of glass in my face alone that took 295 stiches to put my face back together. I also had small bone fragment that was pushing on my spinal cord causing me to be virtually paralyzed. Instead of my parents pulling the plug they had several surgeries to put me back together again.
As a small youth, everyone picked on me and joked about me being weird or walking funny, and little did they know that I secretly wanted to not be noticed and just be a part of the team or the class like everyone else. In recess or sporting activities I was always chosen last, as they thought that I couldn’t run as fast with my gimpy little walk or run. When the others thought that I couldn’t participate or didn’t have the skills I would practice for hours on end for the chance that I would finally get picked.
My chance came in the sixth grade when Coach Hamblin gave me a shot on the school basketball team. I scored 15 of the 30 points in that game and became an instant celebrity in school. The coach had taught me how to take my shorter leg and used the tightness of the muscles as a spring to jump higher than everyone else. He then taught me how to punt for the football team set a record at 72 yard punt by using the same spring. He said “all you need is a good kick like I had inside of me.”
My defining breakthrough in life came in the last month of the sixth grade year when Coach Hamblin taught me to attack the High jump bar and then kick my legs out of the way as I would sail over the bar. In practice we were clearing three to four feet and then we were sent to the city finals. There he said that I was on the stage of life and the outcome was up to me.
In a meet that had planned on 30 minutes for the high jump, my best friend and I took nearly 3 hours to set the state record. I would zoom past the mark with ease, and then Shermaine would crash into the bar on his first try, tip it over on the second, and then I would step in and tell him “to just jump a little higher to clear the bar”. This process took us from the 4 foot mark to the 5 foot mark and then he finally scratched at the 6 foot 3 mark just one inch before the state record.
My coach came to me and said seize the moment and go for the gold (which have been the hallmarks that I have used in everyday achievement since then). I had only one more inch to go to break the record, but my strength had weaned to the point that I wasn’t sure if I had it in me.
I told the coach and the staff to raise it to 6’5”, two full inches from where it presently was at, and then I just starred at the obstacle for what seemed like hours. Running faster than I had run before, I sailed past the Record mark and into state history. As my team and coach embraced me I realized that I could overcome anything and knew that I still a few more jumps left in my gimpy leg. By the end of the day I had set the new record at 6’-7 ½” and took four other records home in speed and distance running for the team.
This experience defined me, and still has. In the 24 years since I was in the sixth grade, I had to fight cancerous lymphomas at fifteen, move out on my own at 16 to get away from an abusive father, graduate early so that I could have a job to pay for roof over my head, overcome a minor stroke at 19 while I was pursuing med-school, survive my first dump truck wreck at 17, my second dump truck wreck at 22 with a young pregnant wife and small son, a second battle with cancer when I was 23 and a few business partners that left me holding the dust and bills of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.
In the end I have triumphed over every obstacle and decided to leave the pinnacle as high as humanly possible in everything that I do for others to follow or know my mark when they see it.
My questions to you are these: How are you going to define your win? What can you do to jump a little higher over those everyday obstacles? What records do you want to own? And how can you triumph today?