There are people you can’t live without. Kate is one of those people. For those of you who do not know, Kate has been with me for the last four years to get me in and out of bed and everything in between that I need help with. Of course, there are other people that could help me, but I would not want anyone else. She cares about me, but more importantly she knows me better more than almost anyone.
Imagine seeing someone every night and every morning for four years. A lot of you know what that’s like because it’s almost like a marriage. What she does for me is she keeps me grounded. She congratulates me on my accomplishments, but I get that from enough people. She makes me a better person because she helps teach me the difference between right and wrong in things that I say and she offers me the constructive criticism that I need to keep getting better as a person. You can’t just go through life hearing everyone tell you that you’re great because there is always room for improvement.
Kate is as talented of an artist as you will find. She will show me a piece of art that blows me away and eventually goes on to tell me that she’s starting the project over. It drives me crazy, but she always proves me wrong because the second, third, or whenever she gets that final draft it really is perfection. She does not want to put out work that is just good. She will only put out work that she knows is the best representation of what she is capable of. That’s what she wants for me when it comes to my career. She knows I’m great at what I do, but just like her as an artist she knows I can never stop improving so she pushes me to get better. She wants me to be the best at what I do.
Kate is often asked how I am doing. The answer to this question never changes as she always says, “he’s doing great”. A little while back it was kind of funny when Kate told me that she was talking to her boyfriend and he asked that same question and she explained to him something she knows very well about me. She talked about how my mood never changes, I never complain, how I never get upset, and just how I’m always happy. It just didn’t make sense to him. How could someone never have a bad day? Sure, I do take a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, and two antipsychotics, which I’m sure fits into the equation. At the same time, I’m paralyzed and I have bipolar disorder. Even a “normal” person has their ups and downs. So I guess for him to think about this for me was a little perplexing.
He was over one night with Kate and I was talking to him about it and in the end he said it sounds like I reached nirvana. I had to look up the exact definition and I loved it when I saw that it read, “a perfect state of happiness”. I loved it because it describes me so well.
So how could a paralyzed guy reach “nirvana”. It was something I had to give thought to. Then I realized I already knew the answer because it is exactly what I preach in my speeches. There’re a few simple ways that I’ve reached this point. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the best way to help yourself is to help others. Through all the adversity that I’ve had to overcome I take those lessons and pass them on. I’ve told the same story to tens of thousands of people in close to 200 speeches and every day to random strangers. You’d think I’d be tired of it by now, but I still absolutely love it because I know I’m making an impact every time I tell my story.
At the end of my presentations, I always have people lining up to thank me, to hug me with tears in their eyes, to tell me that I had an impact on their life, to tell me they could relate, or simply just to shake my hand. I make myself available to reach to everyone that I speak to. I tell my audiences that I am a life coach that doesn’t charge. So people reach out to me.
My vulnerability has made people feel like they are not alone and has got people to reach out for help. I’ve had some people tell me that if it wasn’t for me they don’t think they would be alive. It’s amazing to get people to change the way they think, but to hypothetically stop someone from suicide and show them what they have to live for is worth more than any amount of money you could give me for a speech. Why would I charge for being a life coach and risk the fact that someone that couldn’t afford it would end their life because they can’t afford to pay someone who’s been where they are at and guide them to a better place?
I don’t think success should be measured in dollars, but rather in the impact that you’ve made in the lives of others. I don’t care about money. I have every material thing I could ever want, but much more importantly I have love and support. I have Kate to wake up to every morning and to hug good night every single night. I could not ask for a better family. I could not ask for better friends. I don’t care if I take another step. As long as I have my mind, my voice, and love I could not ask for anything more. I am truly blessed.
I recently was selected to be a recipient of the “Forty Under 40” award my Business First Magazine. I took a look at the other recipients, which included so many CEOs and owners of large companies and corporations. It’s just crazy for me to think that I’m only 29 years old and I’m already being recognized as one of the top professionals and leaders in central Ohio. Big dreams fill my mind and I can’t imagine where I’ll be at by the time I turn 40. This honor mostly just serves as validation to me that God had this plan for me all along. This is just the beginning of the plan that He has for me. So with Him guiding me I’ll continue to carry out this plan.
I’m excited for what’s next. This really is just the beginning. I was recently asked what my five-year plan is. I responded by saying, “last time I had a five-year plan I got in a horrific car accident and became paralyzed so we’ll just see what happens from here”. I don’t know what direction my life is going to take. I just have such strong faith and I have nothing but optimism.
Each day I’m given is another opportunity to make an impact, to make someone smile, and just time to enjoy the beauty of life one second at a time. Dying is a scary thing to think about, but when I leave this earth I want to be able to look down on this world knowing that I truly was able to live a life that I can be proud of. I hope you’re doing everything in your power to do the same.