“If I were playing poker, I’d say that until I was 24 years old, I held a royal flush—in spades. But in one split second, I was left with a pair of twos. What I’ve discovered, however, is that if you play it right, a pair of twos can win.” – Adam Helbling (from his book, “Well, I Guess I’m Not Jesus”)
I’m preparing for a great opportunity this weekend. I’ve been fortunate to be asked to share my friend Adam Helbling’s story on stage at the World Domination Summit in Portland this weekend. Most of you are familiar with the story because I’ve written about it many times in posts and updates. Adam is a resident at Creative Living, a non-profit I serve on the board of in Columbus, OH. CL provides independent housing to people with disabilities, primarily to folks with spinal cord injuries.
I met Adam two years ago right after I returned from The World Domination Summit in 2012. It was serendipitous in that I had just launched The Catalyst Project and Chris Guillebeau (the head of the Summit) invested $100 in all 1,000 2012 attendees with one request – go invest in something that will impact the world. So, I returned from Portland and our board met and that’s when I heard Adam’s story. You see, we invite a resident in to each board meeting to tell us about their story and how Creative Living helps them. It’s my favorite part of our meetings. You get to hear about the real difference we’re making in the resident’s lives. The little things you and I may take for granted. Like grabbing a glass of water or dropping something and picking it up – these folks need help with. They have resident assistants there 24/7 that are just a button away from helping. It’s an amazing place. There’s really nothing like it anywhere else.
Adam spoke during that meeting about his injury and what Creative Living had done for him. What I remember vividly that day was his authenticity and vulnerability. He was very up front about his battle with Bipolar Disorder and drug abuse, which eventually led to his accident in 2011 where he was left paralyzed. He was very candid, which was refreshing and he talked about his desire to write a book and help others with similar challenges. Here he was, a former national champion athlete who from the outside had it all together. And now, his life seemingly shattered (here’s a story 10TV in Columbus did on Adam earlier this year).
He not only lost his mind at one point where he was in a psychotic state and thought he was the second coming of Jesus, but now he lost use of a lot of his body. Can you imagine?
I called him shortly after the meeting and told him that I wanted to help him get his book written and published. We started with a blog (www.adamhelbling.com) and he continued the writing process. Lacking full use of his arms and hands, he “wrote” the rest of his book with voice dictation software. We completed a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer (raised $8,500!) and he finished his book in the Fall. We used the funds to hire an editor (thanks Gretchen!) and for some other aspects of the process.
And…as I’ve mentioned before, he published his book, “Well, I Guess I’m Not Jesus” earlier this year!
Here’s the cool part. This is just the beginning for Adam. And, I’ve learned a lot from him through this process. I just talked to him today and he told me that he wanted to be a Life Coach. He wants to help the younger generation face the same challenges he faced. He wants to bring awareness to bipolar disorder – an often misunderstood disease that crushes many people, many families. He wants to build facilities like Creative Living throughout the country so others who are physically disabled can live independently. He has big dreams and a big vision. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
When we first met I was blown away by his perspective. Here he was – just 18 months past his accident – and he had a huge paradigm shift. His focus was on helping others, not on his own challenges. That’s such a huge thing for anyone. Here’s the thing – we all have self-limiting beliefs. I know I do. But, I’ve learned through this process that when you change the focus to others and not on yourself, that’s where big things happen. When you focus on the value you can add to others and not on your own fear and doubt, that’s where the magic is. True growth comes on the fringes of fear and doubt. The courage to push through is what facilitates that growth.
Adam has spoken to about 70 different groups since we met. Everyone from companies who’ve paid for him to speak to elementary school children (his favorite talk by the way). He is seeing his impact and influence grow with each talk. When we first met he was reading off notes when he spoke and I’m proud of him as he’s now speaking from the heart and just telling his story.
I know this process hasn’t been easy for him. He’s faced many battles – more than most of us will face in a lifetime. And, he’s come out with a smile on his face. In fact, he’ll tell you today that he’s happier than he’s ever been.
The truth of the matter is that our greatest adversity may also be the window to our greatest opportunity to impact the world.
My challenge to all of you is to turn your focus on what value you can provide to others. Don’t let your own self-limiting beliefs hold you back. Push through the resistance. Force yourself to do something that scares you. Be bold and hold a belief close to you that if you focus on adding value to someone (and to the world), you can overcome any fear…any doubt.
I’m completely humbled and honored to share his story this weekend with an amazing group of people. I’ll let you all know how it goes : )
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