It was the beginning of 2018 and I believed that I was on the cusp of "the next big thing."
After nine months of hard work, I had built a platform called Educo with TED Talk speakers to help them turn their content into step-by-step applications that people could use to take action on the advice from their talks.
The idea of helping individuals take action on expert advice had been a dream of mine for years – and finally it was about to become a reality.
It was not long, however, before my dream turned into a nightmare.
I’m a writer without the use of his hands…what am I going to do?
Those were my thoughts as the doctor put my wrist into a splint.
For the next month, I wouldn’t be able to type.
Being an old-fashioned guy, my doctor suggested buying a notebook and pen. A fine idea, but it doesn’t quite work for writing articles on the Internet. So I came home, opened Google, and searched for solutions to my problem.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The towers that stood as a symbol of the iconic New York City skyline were up in flames.
People were jumping out of windows…
The streets were filled with emergency responders…
And almost 3,000 people died from the incident…
Even as a Canadian at the time, the images will forever be burned in my memory. And they justifiably instilled a sense of fear into millions of Americans. Americans who would soon lose their lives because of that fear.
Over the next few years alone, almost just as many Americans died due to the terror attacks of 9/11.
I had been studying the biographies of successful people for years trying to find the key factors that led them to greatness. I found things that were pretty obvious indicators of success—dreaming big, setting goals, working hard, and so on.
But these alone could not be the answer I was looking for.
It felt like I was just hit by a truck. My head crashed hard on the field and was throbbing in pain. It was my first football practice since moving to the United States from Canada, and I was enduring torture.
“I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.” – Vince Lombardi.
In 2001, Joe DeSena, the founder of The Spartan Race, was in a car accident that ripped his hip out of his socket.
After his injury, the first 4 doctors he met with said that he would never be able to run again. This news devastated Joe. He was an athlete all of his life and could not imagine never running again.
So Joe refused to accept that fate. He decided that he was going to do everything he could to be able to run again. This made him hyperfocused. He was going to prove doctors wrong, and to prove that his will was unbreakable.
Her mother prayed for good news as she sent 3-year old Temple Grandin to a speech therapist.
Diagnosed with autism, Temple was thought to be incapable of learning language. In the 1950s, that meant she would be institutionalized all of her life unless she could show she was capable of entering school.
Her parents tried everything they could, and this speech therapist was their last resort.
Thankfully, against all odds, young Temple made progress. It was slow, but Temple was able to speak well enough to be enrolled in a normal school.
It was a simple a train ride from Manchester to London to most of the passengers on the train, but for one passenger, it would be the spark that would change the world of literature forever.
Joanne Rowling – better known as J.K. Rowling – was overcome with excitement as she saw a vision of a young, scrawny boy who the world would come to fall in love with.
“I saw Harry! I could see him very clearly – this scrawny little boy. And it was the most physical rush of excitement. It was the same feeling that you get when you meet someone new and feel as if you have found the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with.”
In 1896, two brothers named Orville and Wilber Wright had a preposterous idea.
“What if we could be the first ones to create manned flight?”
There was no reason to believe that the brothers would be successful. They had no formal education in engineering. They had no experience with any kind of aviation. And they had no financial backing – only the meager profits from their bicycle repair business.
They were also competing against the best and brightest minds in the country.
The year was 1519 and Hernán Cortés, with some 600 Spanish soldiers, had landed on a vast inland plateau called Mexico.
The Spanish conquistador and his men were about to embark on a conquest of an empire that hoarded some of the world’s greatest treasure. But, with only 600 unarmored men, conquering an empire as vast as Mexico was a mission that was doomed to fail.
This fact was even more clear when you look at the history of Europeans invading Mexico. Many with more soldiers and more resources had tried and failed to conquer the empire.
Carol is in one of the most universally dreaded positions - she is about to give a public speech.
Her palms are sweaty. She can feel her knees trembling. She begins to look down on her notes, then up at the stage where the spotlight is on the person introducing her. Her heart feels like it is about to completely beat out of her chest.
How is she supposed to go up and talk in front of all of these people?!
She is certain that she is going to make a mistake, miss a key part of her speech and have the entire crowd ridicule her. It feels as if she fears the next 30 minutes more than any other 30 minutes she has ever faced in her life.
“Sleep?! Sleep is for people who are broke. I don’t sleep. I have an opportunity to turn a dream into a reality.” – Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
I think about that quote every time I am up late working, and realize that I have more work than hours that I planned to stay awake. I know the extraordinary value that sleep has on my willpower, but when I want to keep working, I just think about that quote.
Then I turn to other anecdotal stories about people achieving greatness through a lack of sleep and strong willpower to overcome their body’s natural urge to sleep and persevere toward their dreams.
It was a walk I had been doing for over 2 and a half years as I had been training for the Spartan Race. In my first race in October 2012, I finished in 334th. But after over 2 years of hard training I had worked my way up to finishing 7th – a mere 2 spots away from becoming a sponsored athlete.
The participants had been asked to estimate the amount of time they knew FOR SURE they'd be able to spend in the gym over the next 2 weeks. On average, the participants planned to spend about 10 hours/week in the gym.
I'm sure you have gone through a similar planning process at some point. So you probably won’t be shocked when I tell you that the average time actually spent in the gym wasn’t even half of that!