What’s a disability? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a condition (such as an illness or an injury) that damages or limits a person’s physical or mental abilities.”
But just where are those limits and who defines them? The more we learn about the boundaries of human performance the more we understand how our perceptions shape our reality. Research in quantum physics, neurosciences, and positive psychology shows us that our limits are largely formed by our beliefs about what is and isn’t possible.
The fifteenth Summer Paralympic Games are now underway in Rio de Janeiro. A powerful and inspiring three minute video was released earlier this summer to challenge perspectives and push boundaries. Entitled “Yes I Can: Superhumans,” the video redefines disability and stretches — or even snaps — the limitations on what many people think is possible.
I was delighted to see Alvin Law opening the video with a high intensity drum roll. Alvin’s an award winning musician who plays drums, piano, and trombone. Alvin was born without arms. He plays the drums with his feet.
Alvin was one of the babies born in the early sixties with missing or deformed limbs when mothers were prescribed Thalidomide to reduce morning sickness. His birth family put him up for adoption. Hilda Law became his foster mother — and Chief Limit Stretcher. She helped Alvin reset his boundaries as he learned to use his feet and toes to get on with his life and pursue his dreams. She continually told him “there’s no such word as can’t.”
Heather and I first met Alvin and his wife and business partner, Darlene, over 15 years ago through the Canadian Association for Professional Speakers. As we learned more of his life story — such as raising his son as a single Dad — we saw that Alvin was a rare and inspiring keynote speaker who lived his message.
Alvin’s become a Hall-of-Fame speaker. He calls himself a “motivational rabble-rouser and attitude provocateur.” He says “the best thing that ever happened to me is being born without arms. It brought me to circumstances never thought possible.”
For a quick shot of high energy inspiration watch “Yes I Can: Superhumans,” And watch the video clip through to the last interview featuring a bit of Alvin’s story. You can also click here to learn more about Alvin. Near the bottom of the page is his blog post on making the video. As an avid Beatles fan I was fascinated to learn the song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios.
Henry Ford famously declared over a century ago “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” So where’s your line dividing what is and isn’t possible? Where do you delineate what can and can’t be done?
As Alvin says — and shows even more powerfully with his life — “we all have obstacles in life. It is ultimately our attitude that determines whether they block our path to success, or strengthen us on our journey.”