Build Your Bridge to Success
Many people don’t pursue their greatest goals or highest potential because they believe there are too many barriers that will prevent them from becoming successful. Whether the barriers are real or perceived is irrelevant. In fact, both can prevent us from moving forward. Everyone faces barriers and it is important that we acknowledge them, whether they be physical, emotional, personal, spiritual or otherwise. Once we are aware of them and understand how we feel about them we are freer to face them and better equipped to overcome them.
My physical impairments often create additional barriers as I go through my day, but I press on because getting certain things done or experiencing certain things are important enough for me to rise beyond the challenges. What’s important enough for you to move beyond the barriers to get through? All of us have barriers as we go about each day, right? These can be practical barriers, financial barriers, emotional barriers or those created by the people around us in the attitudes they share with us. Yet, people with disabilities, and people living with disabling chronic illnesses, often share common qualities of resilience, determination and adaptability. And yes, we also have those days where we just don’t want to try. It’s part of being human. Believe me, I know this to be true as a survivor of birth with spina bifida with depression and limb loss. Still, I press forward. Each movement may tire me, but I know I’ll be further along in my journey if I just take one movement. The barriers you face may be personal to you, but it is vital that you create ways to move forward, to better understand and overcome them if you are serious about achieving your goals.
We all face pain, suffering, stress and other difficulties. Many of us with disabilities and chronic illnesses experience these more frequently, or maybe just differently depending, than the average. At times of stress and difficulty we tend to think that life would be much simpler without these hassles, or that we’ve cornered the market on our own self doubt. , but these moments of difficulties also provide us with added opportunities to build new skills and offer us another chance for growth. Adversity is unavoidable, so why fight it? Whatever we’ve been brought to, we can get through. Accept that life has its challenges and develop ways to cope that work for you. Try this: don’t linger too long on past difficulties, but focus on how you got through them and make a list. And, don’t go looking for future difficulties to make life harder for you. Why do that? The current barriers, whether you have a disability or care for someone who does, are enough to deal with!
There are many success stories of people (with and without disabilities) overcoming various barriers that inspire me when I feel slammed against a wall in my life. Being ‘up against it’ is often linked to my personal vantage point at the time. There’s a story of the Brooklyn Bridge that I keep in mind as I face challenges of overcoming, that has inspired me and it may inspire the rest of you as well.
In 1883, Washington Roebling’s father, John, had a unrealized dream to build the Brooklyn Bridge. Experts at the time believed it to be impossible, scoffed at him even, but John couldn’t ignore the pull this dream had on his heart and mind. So, he finally persuaded the city to support his project. He and his son, Washington, were the lead engineers and the only ones who knew how to build such a massive structure. After just a few months into the project, there was an accident that killed John and left his son Washington with permanent brain damage. Although unable to speak, write, or walk, Washington’s mind was sharp as a tack and he found that he could still move one of his fingers. Determined to bring his father’s dream to fruition, he developed a code which made it possible to communicate with his wife by tapping on her arm with his finger. Washington tapped tirelessly on his wife’s arm for thirteen years. Thirteen years! Now that is determination! She, in turn, relayed these instructions for the engineers to build the bridge. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as a testament to how any obstacle can be overcome.
Reading or hearing about successful people who have overcome adversity to achieve personal success is inspiring to me. I encourage you to find role models that inspire you as well. The encouragement I am left with by these examples drives me forward to prove to myself, and to the doubters out there I swat away like flies, that having a clear vision and determination will see me through. It will even see me through the occasional fog of self doubt that seems to settle across my heart out of nowhere and freeze me in place. I know that in that moment of uncertainty, questioning and fear, I have to move forward in action anyway so that the light can continue to come through.
Find those affirmations, activities, supportive people and habits that give you positive light. Reflect on and do them when you feel at your darkest moment. All the colors of hope and success will come shining before you, lighting your path forward if you do.