Sh** Happens: Succeeding In Spite of Obstacles

“I am bigger than anything that can happen to me. All these things, sorrow, misfortune and suffering, are outside my door. I am in the house and I have the key.” – Charles Lummis

At least once or twice a week, I meet someone or see someone on television who really inspires me. A few weeks ago, my inspiration came from a remarkable, upbeat young woman by the name of Cara Fortunado.

I met Cara at a high school where my son was playing in a basketball tournament. After his game, we happened to pass the open door to her office and peeked in. She was watching a game on television, and invited us to join her.

As the game progressed, we struck up a conversation with Cara about her life and career. She told us that she coached the girls’ basketball team for the middle school.

“I sometimes get so mad at the girls when they don’t follow my instructions, it drives me crazy,” she said. “So I get out on the floor with them and try to show them how I want them to move. But it gets frustrating because I have to drag this darn thing around with me.” She pulled up her right pant leg and slapped a leg that was made of metal.

I asked her how she lost her leg, and she explained that it happened in a freak accident in California about five years ago. She was standing in the wrong place when a huge truck started rolling down a hill. She got caught between that truck and another one behind her, and the next thing she knew she was, as she described it, “rolling end over end downhill.”

When she got to the bottom of the hill, she thought she had escaped by the skin of her teeth, because she didn’t feel any pain. But when she checked herself out, she found that her right leg was missing. She later discovered that the leg was still lodged between the two trucks at the top of the hill.

Today, Cara displays an incredibly enthusiastic, high-energy personality, and clearly has a zest for life. As she put it, “Hey, sh** happens in life. When I wake up every morning, the first thing I think of is how lucky I am to be alive.”

We all hear and see these kinds of stories every day – which is good, because we need to continually be reminded of how lucky we are. With few exceptions, no matter how heavy your burdens, you can always find people who have much heavier crosses to bear. Socrates summed it up well when he said, “If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own.”

Remember, a handicap is anything that makes achievement more difficult. Which means that everyone has handicaps – physical or otherwise. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Put another way, you don’t necessarily overcome your handicaps. That’s usually not possible. The object is to succeed in spite of your handicaps. And that is possible.

As just one example, a fellow by the name of Pete Grey played Major League Baseball back in the forties, albeit briefly, with one arm. In the minor leagues, he hit .333 one year, had five homeruns, tied a league record by stealing 68 bases, and was named the Southern Association’s most valuable player.

What are your handicaps?

Lower-than-average IQ?

Lack of education?

A poverty-stricken childhood?

Do yourself a favor and make an honest list of your handicaps. Then factor them into your planning… and make a commitment to succeed in spite of them.

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