4 Dec 2012

A Broken body isn't a broken person

"When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be" is a powerful quote from an inspiring Ted Talk by former cross country skier Janine Shepherd. From Olympic athlete, to paraplegic, to pilot and inspirational speaker. This talk reminds us about the true value of life, ambition, and how focused human tenacity can succeed over a seeming impossibility.

Whilst in the final stages of her Olympic preparations, Janine was hit by a truck while training on her bike with her Olympic squad.

With life-threatening and crippling injuries, not only did living itself seem a challenge, but the idea of ever walking, being mobile, and achieving something, very much seemed a million miles away. Specialists who had deemed her as a 'partial paraplegic' because amongst other things her spine was so badly damaged, had advised her that she would never be able to walk again.

Well against all odds, 18 months later Janine had not only achieved her private and commercial pilot's licence, but she was also a flying instructor! Oh and she could walk!

"Janine focused intently for years on healing both her broken body and crushed morale. A turning point came watching small planes flying overhead. She decided: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” While still in a full body cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Later, she earned her commercial pilots license and instructor’s rating. Janine recently served on the board of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and became its youngest -- and only -- female director."

Janine's strength, acceptance, tenacity, and spirit is infectious, inspiring and certainly makes me take a step back and look at my life. In such a fast paced life, where external happiness is mass marketed and short term 'highs' are often the (wrong) strategy for life, it's easy to get wrapped up in it all a little too much at times. 

As Janine says when something huge and life changing went wrong "it's not 'why me?', it's 'why not me'". 

Watch the Ted Talk and have a think about your life. What do you focus on? Are you achieving your goals? What are you goals? Take inspiration from this talk, because no matter what you situation, or how bad you think something is, you really can succeed. "Although my body might be limited, it was my spirit that was unstoppable"

As the philosopher Lao Tzu once said "when you let go of what you are, you become what you might be". I am still on my path of learning, as I most certainly do not have everything right, but the above resonates with me, and I hope with you.

Janine's full biography

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I almost had a tear in my eye as I was watching this. It's a truly remarkable story that helps put things into perspective. It's also interesting how normally someone needs to hit rock bottom before they make the decision to recreate their life. It makes me question whether we are all doing what we are supposed to in our lives. Without experiencing a tragic accident, how can we find such clarity like Janine did? Ok, that's probably a bit narrow-minded, but you get the point.


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