In life, constantly comparing ourselves and our struggles with others can prove to be a hindrance for personal growth.
Dean Furness, an athlete and expert in data and analytics, shared an inspiring story through a TEDx talk where he explained how comparison can put an end to your goals. He shared his story about how he was paralysed without the use of his legs after an accident in 2011. He raced as a wheelchair athlete in Chicago and Boston Marathons after several years of recovery, hard effort, and support from his physiotherapist.
“It seems we have been measured almost all of our lives, when we are infants, with our height and our weight, and as we grew it became our speed and our strength.” He added, “Personal average is just that, it’s something very personal and it’s for you, and I think if you focus on that and work to build that, you can really start to accomplish some really amazing things.”
He shared the story of the accident and what it taught him about “personal averages”, and the necessity of not letting other people influence how we think about ourselves. He described, how, despite losing the use of his legs in an accident, he developed a powerful new perspective centred on redefining his “personal average” and gradually improved.
He further explained how his accident was caused and how his life changed after he was transferred to a specialty spinal cord rehab hospital. “And that proved to be a very important lesson for me. It was one thing that I couldn’t compare myself to myself, but even around people in the same situation in that hospital, I found that I couldn’t try to keep pace or set pace with them as well, and I was left with really only one choice and that was to focus on who I was at that point in time with where I needed to go and to get back to who I needed to be.”
Dean shared that although he had bad days at the hospital, he didn’t let them get to him. “The quicker you move on to what’s next, the quicker you can start attacking things. And by moving on to next as fast as possible, you shrink the time you spend in those bad scenarios and it gives more time for the good. And, as a result, the good outweighs the bad, your average increases and that’s just how the math works.”
He concluded, “Everybody here has something that they’re fighting, and it may be visible, it may not be, but please, take some time and focus on you instead of others, and I bet you can win those challenges and really start accomplishing so many great things.”
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