Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maybe You Can

Have you ever told yourself "I can't do that" and listed the reasons why? Has someone ever told you that you couldn't do or be something because you lacked a certain quality? Have you ever taken stock of your life and thought that something you really wanted was impossible? I know I have, and I also know that there are others who felt the same way and marched on despite their doubts and who, in the end, accomplished the "impossible." Why not look to them for inspiration when your dream seems plagued with doubts?

One such man, Jim Abbott, was born without a right hand. Now I know what some of you are thinking. So what, he's missing a right hand. There's a lot of things you can do without a right hand. There's research, academics, business, politics, and a host of other fields open to someone bright and dedicated to success. I agree. A single handicap should not define an entire life.

There are too many other things a physically challenged person can accomplish, but Jim wasn't born to just accomplish, he was born to inspire. He did not dream of simply working a desk job. He did not dream of selling vacuums door to door or flowers on the street corner. He wanted to be an athlete. Okay, not just an athlete, but a very, very fine athlete, and that's what he aimed for despite having only one hand.

So what sport did he choose? I don't know about you, but I would have avoided all "two-handed" sports. One handed sports, okay, fine. I could bowl, for instance, play ping-pong, or run long distance. I certainly would not have pursued star quarterback on my high school football team, or even dreamed of leading my team to the state finals like Jim did. I doubt any of my advisors would have suggested to a one-handed kid that he ought to pursue a career in baseball where every other player used two hands to field and throw the ball. Yet despite his doubters, Jim plowed ahead anyway.

And plow ahead he did. The University of Michigan, impressed by his baseball pitching ability, offered Jim a baseball scholarship. There, he led the Wolverines to two Big Ten titles. He also won the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, which recognized him as college baseball's most outstanding athlete.

That's not all. In 1988 Jim led the US baseball team to a gold medal, and then played for the California Angels. In 1993 he threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. He did all this with just one hand.

So next time you decide you really want to accomplish something that seems "impossible," think of Jim Abbott. Suit yourself up with his attitude. And who knows, maybe you will not only achieve your dreams, but also inspire others the way he did.

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