Monday, August 1, 2011
We all have plans and expectations of ourselves. We get an education and make plans. We dream. Sometimes life's unexpected obstacles force one to change those plans.
Recently I had the pleasure of hiking Mount Agamenticus with Randy Pierce and the Mighty Quinn. Randy is one of those people whose life plans were dramatically changed while he was in his early twenties...a time when people are just beginning to formulate plans for their future. In 1989 Randy began loosing his vision and eventually became completely blind in 2000. In 2004 Randy experienced further health complications which made him wheelchair bound for over a year and a half. What challenges for someone so young, active, and engaged in life. Clearly, Randy has had his struggles. Yet, as I have reconnected with him over the past year I have come to "see" that the vision we have for ourselves is so much greater than the vision we call eyesight. True vision gives us a sense of purpose and helps us to set goals. Randy has demonstrated incredible perseverance as he has found new ways to engage in life and refused to let his disability hold him back.
Last year Randy founded 2020 Vision Quest with the goal of climbing all 48 of the rugged 4000+ foot peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains by the year 2020. Randy inspires others to set their own visions and to help them achieve their own goals through outreach, education and support. I was fortunate to hear him speak to a group of 3rd graders where he educated the children about disabilities, challenges, guide dogs and the importance of problem solving to achieve goals. As he educated the students, he moved the adults to tears as he described the deterioration of his vision. His final sight was that of his service dog, Ostend. In 2005 he also had to confront the loss of this dog who had been his steady anchor since his full loss of vision in 2000.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed but once you figured out how to solve the problem it really was no big deal? Randy has been overwhelmed by many things that to us are no big deal. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth blindfolded. Might be fun once or twice, but twice a day, every day for the rest of your life? I bet it gets old real fast...getting toothpaste everywhere other than where it belongs. As a result Randy's problem solving skills have sharpened. He figured out how to brush his teeth with out getting toothpaste all over the place. While on a hike he knows how to distinguish his water bottle from Quinn's. These are the simple problems that he has solved. Imagine the problem solving it requires to to hike mountains!
Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't do a thing, you are right." The importance of positive thinking for Randy is strong and clear as he talks about the challenges of getting out of a wheelchair and walking or of hiking the White Mountains. Should you utter a negative comment about your abilities he will be quick to help you reframe that thought.
For Randy to accomplish his goals he has surrounded himself with a team of people that are there to help him succeed in climbing the 48 peaks as well as the outreach work. I started to realize the importance of surrounding myself with the right team as well. My team includes friends and family. My goals are very different yet my "team" consists of good problem solvers, their energy is positive and they believe in me.
What visions have you set for yourself? Who is helping you get there?