The Unfair Advantage of Being in a Wheelchair

Reading time: 3 minutes

This is off the top of my head while I’m taking a break from my studies.

I thought we could brainstorm, well, I’ll be doing all the work, but brainstorm about what there is to do if you’re in a wheelchair.

I’m the type of person who, with curiosity and ambition, wants to endeavor on any opportunity I see fit for me. There are many, and I’ve practiced saying no to a lot of things. 

In the world of business, when starting out, it’s advised to start small. Start very niche. As Seth Godin has said, be a meaningful specific instead of a wandering generality. Do it different, do it fresh, give value.

In other words, we’re in a world full of people. So many people that the greatest human desire – to be remembered – has become one of the most difficult achievements. Being in a wheelchair, or having any respectable adversity, becomes leverage for greatness.

So, what is there to do? 

As you should know, I’m a bodybuilder. A real bodybuilder – competing like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I wasn’t going to be a pro, but I did win all competitions but one.

As a 21 year old, there are enough guys my age that are better than me in every bodybuilding aspect that I would surely lose.
However, there are not many guys my age who are also in a wheelchair that I would compete against who would be better than me. And so, in becoming more niche, I have reduced the competition and increased my probability of winning, which is what matters in a competition. 

With that as an example and keeping “niche” in the forefront of your beautiful mind while reading this, here are some avenues to pursue if you’re in a wheelchair.

These may spark an idea within you, I hope they do.

•  Motivational speaker 

•  Write books about adversity (your experience, lessons, actionable knowledge)

•  Be an advocate for disability and inclusion (D&I) 

•  Work at a company for D&I 

•  Go into politics for D&I

•  Start a blog

•  Start a YouTube channel 

•  Become an engineer to invent tools for D&I 

•  Compete in any sport – think about the Paralympics, where there is less competition relative to the Olympics

•  (If you’re attractive enough) become a D&I model for clothing or products 

•  Start a nonprofit for a disability related cause 

•  Work as a consultant for companies to improve D&I (clothing companies, therapists, corporations, public buildings, etc.)

•  Make a world record as the first person in a wheelchair to do ____ (likely with a sport) 

The list can continue in you beautiful and limitless imagination.

No matter what it is that you’re interested in, you can do something about it. If you want to be an actor, that may not happen, but you could be a playwright. Think broad, find crossroads, then narrow dig deep.

Immediate actionable items: I just read this today when I grabbed a book off my shelf and went to a random page: advice from Warren Buffet – write down 25+ things you want to do, circle your top 5 and focus on those. Completely ignore the rest.

(Book is Grit by Duckworth)

Summary: There are more opportunities that arise from being in a wheelchair than not. Specifically, think in terms of competition. The probability to be the best at what you do has increased because there are less people in the pool of competition when you get more niche.

Overdeliver:  Like mentioned in the actionable items, it is also relevant what Steve Jobs has said, that focusing is about saying no to a lot of things.

Necessity and Creativity for the Paraplegic

Reading time: 2.5 minutes

Dying of thirst, an eagle was flying over a rather dry area looking for what it needed badly, water.
When the eagle passed over a hut that had left out a vase of water, it landed and tried to drink the crystal water. After struggling with no success – the water was low and out of reach for the eagle – and knowing that it needed this water, the eagle knew it had to get creative.
Tipping the vase over wouldn’t work. The eagle thought for a while, and then thinking “if only there were a way to make the vase shorter by raising the bottom.” Then, the eagle went around collecting rocks and dropped them in the vase until the water level came within reach.

You may have heard a similar story, but with a crow. I read this in my Aesop’s fables book, but I like eagles more than crows, and I added some detail.

Everyone is, in some way, unique.

Or at least we all think we are, and so I don’t expect anyone to disagree with that.

You can interpret that fable in any way you like but the intention is to show that necessity drives creativity. That isn’t the only place creativity is found, but necessity always leads to creativity if there is an obstacle. Food is necessary, but I don’t have to get creative because the market is nearby.
If I were hunting in the wilderness with Boone, I would likely have to get creative in finding the next meal for my family.

You can find that almost anywhere you see creativity, there is a necessity and an obstacle between what’s needed and what is currently being done.

If you think deeply about things you might’ve wondered what really is necessity? Not what we consider a necessity, but what makes us consider things a necessity. The answer is belief. Which may not seem much different.

If you don’t strongly believe that something is necessary, you won’t care to get creative and solve problems.

Here’s an observation on my life. I go to the gym every day, now that I use a wheelchair, I have to get creative if I want to have a good workout and do the exercises that I want. In the gym, when I’m doing some crazy workout, people would come up to me and tell me that it’s smart or creative and ask how I came up with it. Well, I believed that I had to do it, and that necessity inhibited my creativity.

If you don’t like going to the gym or you don’t believe it’s necessary for you to do, then you won’t go in and put in the effort to figure things out in an unconventional way.

Where our beliefs come from is a larger topic, but this is an observation you can make of yourself quite easily if you’re in a wheelchair.

People in wheelchairs, or anyone with a disability of any type will, by that nature, have obstacles in life.

Unconditionally, everyone faces obstacles, and we either turn the other way if we don’t believe that we have to overcome, or we get creative and persist.

The purpose of talking to you about this is to have you realize the strengths and development gained from things such as being in a wheelchair.

It isn’t all good using a wheelchair, but it has driven me to observe more, visualize more, get creative, figure things out, and learn about myself and where my true beliefs are.

These skills will help in every area of my life and now I have experience, maybe not professional, but the gym is still a good place.

Immediate actionable items: Think about a time that you had to get creative to solve a problem, and think about what that says about your beliefs of what’s necessary. Stories of creativity are good during interviews, parties, and for introspection.

Summary: Our beliefs determine what we consider to be necessary, and if obstacles arise, as they often do, we will get creative. This is especially relevant for those in wheelchairs in a world of mountains, but it only makes us better when we get creative.
And most of our beliefs are created by our behaviors, which is why you will never belief what you do to be bad, or “that bad.”

Overdeliver:  A quote I read every morning, I don’t recall where I got it from, but it says, “when the values are clear, the decisions are easy.” Being fully aware of your values and beliefs will help you easily make decisions and when you do something you believe is necessary, nothing will stop you.

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