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You do not know how strong you can be until being strong is the only choice you have.

Recently, I shared this quote by Stephen Hawking:

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”

I doubt there is a quote more relevant to my present situation.

After miraculously surviving near decapitation in what should have been a fatal car accident in October of 2009, my head, now attached to my shoulders primarily by scar tissue, is solidly (though painfully) fixed looking upward to the sky. I can’t move it freely to make you feel more comfortable when we interact and I can’t hold it up for long. This is simply how it is.

(Note: This does not stop people from bitching at me over it which I find just a tad insensitive and annoying but I digress.)

In fact, I can’t even see my feet unless I can hang onto something and bend deeply from the waist. Which I suppose is a bit like cheating. But I make no apologies for that or for the fact that what might seem like a significant limitation to you has actually opened up a whole new way of seeing and experiencing the world for me. A silver lining or an unfair advantage — depending on your perspective, yes?

And it’s true that, for me anyway, life is meaningless without work. As entrepreneurs, we don’t find meaning, we make it. We harness the energy of fear and transform it into greater creativity. Every day. Win or lose. Succeed or fail.

Most people run from fear. Who hasn’t been scared shitless multiple times along the way? Yet, when we acknowledge and embrace our fears, by confronting them directly and taking that next step anyway, we simultaneously open the door to total and complete freedom.

My greatest fear these past 5 years has been that I wouldn’t be able to overcome catastrophic brain, spinal cord and psychological injuries sufficiently to return to work. And because our lives are a product of the scope of our thinking, I can’t, nor do I want to, imagine being without it.

While society measures success in terms of material comfort and security, I measure my own success by how much I have learned and served others through my work. It was going pretty well prior to the accident. And I resent the interruption, even if it is (hopefully) temporary and must be accepted.

All life-changing moments are gifts from the universe that say you are meant to change focus. It’s never easy to get with the new program — that’s the whole point!

But it is necessary if you want to harness the power of post-traumatic growth and play the game of life at a higher level. When you surrender to the truth that you are not in control of anything but your response to any given situation or circumstance, only then can you fully experience your own power.

Indeed, you never really know how strong you can be until being strong is the only choice you have. Believe this and you can overcome all that creates darkness and difficulty in your life.

We can’t experience love in the absence of light. We are all dealing with issues that prevent us from living the lives we want to live and experiencing the love we deserve. How we came into our various challenges does not really matter. Honestly — the only thing that matters is we come out the other side to love and live on.

That is what RAISING THE BAR is all about. Belief (B) + Attitude (A) = Response (R).

Sadly, I am in too much pain to continue today. So more to come tomorrow. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.

PS I hope you’ll find the new RAISING THE BAR series inspiring. If so, please share this post with friends and followers. We never know what burdens others are carrying or how much their load might be made lighter by doing so. ♥♥♥