I broke my neck in a diving accident more than 11 years ago.
A lot happened in a split second. And a lot has continued to happen. Experience is life’s best teacher.
Since that fateful day, I’ve come to appreciate 5 absolute truths from which everyone can benefit.
1. IT STARTS WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.
We are not in control of what happens to us. However, we are in control of how we choose to respond to what happens to us. The power to change one’s mindset, take on a new perspective and focus on positivity is a gift most will never fully appreciate. I am still learning to appreciate the power my attitude can have over my life. The ability to influence how I perceive what happens to me cannot be taken from me. It has made all the difference in the world. Attitude equals altitude.
Determining your attitude is something that’s left up to you. Tough times will still find you. No one is immune from the storm. But the rains don’t last forever. Choose the right attitude. Make that last.
2. INCH BY INCH IS A CINCH, YARD BY YARD IS AWFULLY HARD
Almost nothing is insurmountable when you break it down into its smallest parts. It’s a lot easier to focus on the task at hand and see results when you are not overwhelmed by the bigger obstacle in front of you. We’d all like to do great things and see great results right away. It doesn’t just happen. Things take time. And sometimes, really great things, take lots of time. But we need to invest the time if we want to improve.
Remember the wise words of Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
3. THERE’LL BE GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS
I had good days and bad days before my accident, so why should I be surprised if I still have a bad day. The important thing is what you take from those bad days. Once you learn to move through tough times, you begin to accumulate more tools in your toolbox for the next tough time you encounter.
Sure, you will encounter bad days in the future, but apply the lessons you’ve learned and they won’t last as long. Pretty soon you find yourself stringing together more good days than bad days and you start to realize, “Yeah, I can do this.”
4. YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR ADVERSITY
Cursed. Deadened. Decrepit. Inadequate. Invalidated. Screwed up. Weakened.
All those words are synonyms for the word DISABLED. They are very ugly words to me, and certainly not words I would use to define myself. I may have a disability, but I am not disabled. I still have a lot to offer. I still hope to achieve a lot, I just might need to do it from a chair for the time being.
Regardless of what you are going through or have been through, your adversity does not define you. How you choose to live in the face of adversity is a much better definition. Do not let adversity define you.
5. IT’S ALL RELATIVE
No matter how bad you have it, there is someone far worse off than you. Same can be said, regardless of how good you might think you have it, someone has it better. Who cares.
For the longest time I used to compare myself to others with a similar injury. Even though every spinal cord injury is unique, if I saw another person making more progress than me, I would wonder what I was doing wrong, even though I felt I was working just as hard, if not harder. Finally, I was able to accept the fact that my situation was not for wont of effort, rather, that was just the way it is. The same can be said for a lot of the situations we find ourselves in. Don’t compare situations, because everyone chooses to deal with things in a different manner.
Scott suffered a broken neck at the C3 level after a diving accident. He is the founder and president of, Getting Back Up, a nonprofit that assists spinal cord-injured individuals. He is the author of Head Strong: How a Broken Neck Strengthened My Spirit.
Learn more about Scott and receive a free copy of his eBook A Trip Around the Sun at www.scottwfedor.com.
Visit Scott on Instagram at @scottwfedor