Boy, have I got a story for you!
If you need a shot in the arm today … or a word of encouragement … or a kick- start to keep going, I believe there is inspiration here for the taking, whatever your challenge is today.
I won’t even pretend to tell you that everything is rosy out there right now. Our recession, and its destruction of our jobs, our savings and our retirement funds, has dished out to us what can seem like an insurmountable hardship. This I know. We’ve talked about platitudes, we’ve talked about getting out in the community, and donating time to great causes. We’ve talked about trying new things, and de-aging our perspectives and physical appearance.
The news on the job hunting wire can seem daunting. Truth is, the American workforce faces its toughest challenge yet. As Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect says, “America’s leading corporations grow more and more decoupled from the American economy. Their interests grow increasingly detached from those of our workers, our consumers – and our economic future….Unlike any recession in American history – including the Great Depression – this one has come at a time when America’s leading employers can return to profitability without rehiring large numbers of American workers.”
This is a particularly difficult situation for job hunters who are over 45 / 50 years old. We’re in the industrious “boomer” segment of our culture. We’ve always believed that if we work hard enough, we’ll set the world on fire, educate our children, and retire with many good years ahead of us. We’ve certainly made it a prosperous place. The current recession slammed us, and our future.
So, if walking in your own shoes today, while you seek to find ways to re-enter the job market, your community, and your life, seems particularly grueling, I hope this story of inspiration, contribution and personal purpose will buoy you on the choppy seas. The story is about a 56 year-old friend of mine named Beth Sanden, who was partially paralyzed in a training accident while preparing for one of her Ironman Triathlons several years ago. Beth’s life changed in an instant when she was thrown from her bike, breaking her back. Her journey as she learned to live with constant nervous system pain, and even to walk again against all odds, has been remarkable. She is a world-class athlete still today, unstoppably raising awareness and funds for other physically challenged individuals.
With walker, cane, and hand-cycle in tow, she travelled to China last week to compete in the Great Wall of China Marathon outside of Beijing against able-bodied competitors. Beth finished the 26-mile race, conquering the Great Wall of China, in approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes.
My hat goes off to Beth Sanden. She has overcome her physical challenges, reinvented herself, and has become a global emissary for the Challenged Athlete Foundation ( http://www.challengedathletes.org ), helping thousands of others in need of limbs, wheelchairs, walkers, and exercise equipment that can give them back their mobility and participation in the community around them. Beth’s personal favorite is the hand-cycle. It unlocked her future as a competitive challenged athlete.
Beth’s efforts on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation were documented in two news stories presented by ABC in Orange County, California:
Check them out!
Each of us has our own metaphorical “Great Wall of China Marathon” to run at some point in our lives. Let Beth Sanden’s story be an inspiration for your own!
Di Chapman is the founder of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc Executive Coaching, Career Management, and Leadership Development service.