This week's guest blog comes from Michael Lifshitz. Thanks for being an inspiration!
When I speak to audiences about overcoming challenges, I always use the photo above as an example of perseverance. Many networking events used to be held in the restaurant in this office building in my home town of Montreal. While it may be difficult to tell from the photo, there is no railing for people to hold onto when climbing the stairs. For most people, they would not think anything of that, easily managing to run up the 4-5 steps in front of the building. However, for people like me, who have a physical disability, it is not quite so easy.
The nature of my disability is the result of a congenital defect referred to as Multiple Congenital Musculoskeletal Abnormalities, which for those of you who do not speak Latin is actually the medical term for extremely messed up. I wear an artificial leg and walk with a cane, and use an electric wheelchair for longer distances.
As I am able to get out of the wheelchair, I can do some stairs, but would need a railing to hold onto. The first time I was invited to an event at this restaurant, I pulled into the parking lot in front of the building, got out of my car, and stood at the foot of the stairs trying to think what to do next. It was then that I happened to notice that there was a piece of paper on the door. I stopped one of the people who were coming out of the building and asked them if they could please tell me what the paper on the door said. It turned out the paper was a notice saying that the event had been moved to another location, which was accessible, so the problem was solved. Until the next time I was invited to attend an event at this restaurant. I pulled in the parking lot, got out of my car, and said to myself “Oh yeah…the stairs”. That is when I paused and thought to myself that maybe there is another way. I got back into my car, drove around to the back of the building, and lo and behold, there was parking for people with disabilities, complete with an accessible entrance to the building with an elevator to get up to the restaurant.
So here is my question for you – what is your stairs? What is keeping you from going where you want to go, and most importantly, do you need to go there? Or is there a sign telling you that you can walk away and go somewhere else? If you do need to get there, find a way to get where you need to go. Go behind the building and find that alternate entrance. DISCLAIMER – This is a metaphor. Hanging out in your backyard (assuming you are reading this at home) or behind your office building will not get you closer to your goals. What will get you closer to your goals is having the perseverance to find a way to do what you need to do to make your goals reality.
Here is to you finding your way up your stairs.
Originally from Montreal, Michael now calls Ottawa home. Despite having a disability since birth, Michael defied what many would believe possible, becoming a chartered accountant and obtaining a MBA from Edinburgh Business School. He has built and sold a successful accounting and financial planning practices.
Today, in addition to continuing a successful career in finance and accounting as co-founder and CFO of Breakaway Experiences, an online directory of unique and memorable experiences people can purchase as gifts for their friends and loved ones, or to use for themselves, Michael uses speaking, comedy and writing to not only educate people as to what people with disabilities can do, but to also inspire them to overcome their own challenges and live their life to the fullest of their abilities. For more details about Michael, feel free to visit www.illumabilities.com.
Dr. Amanda is a non-traditional chiropractor who focuses on Neuro-Optimization in Ottawa, Canada.