I’ve done a lot of thinking about overcoming adversity lately.  Like anyone, I’ve had my share.  I tend to admire those who have become greatly successful despite significant challenges faced.  Part of my recent reflection comes from meeting one of my heroes the other day.


You see, I love music.  My taste is eclectic, but my roots are rock.  My favorite stress relief is a very loud musical car ride.

Back in the day, I loved the telltale drums of Def Leppard.  I would always smile anytime I would hear the drummer, Rick Allen, say “Gunter glieben glauten globen” then launch into “Rock of Ages”.  I still do.  If you are in the car with me, I will turn it up.

Rick Allen joined Def Leppard in 1978 when he was 15, after responding to a “drummer needed” ad.  When he was 21, he was in a car accident, was thrown from his car, and his left arm was severed at the shoulder.  I’m sure he thought his musical career was over.  However, with time, encouragement from his bandmates, and some technical ingenuity, he returned to the band, and continues to play, better than ever, to this day.  Check out this video when he returned to the place where he first played again:

Rick Allen Def Leppard return video:

Not only does he continue to play, he has started a foundation to serve, educate and empower veterans and people in crisis called  Project Resiliency, part of The Raven Drum Foundation. He is also an artist, and supports the project with proceeds from his art.   He was showing his work here in Atlanta, where I got the opportunity to meet him.

I hope that his story helps you, like it has me.  It is a great reminder that success often triumphs over adversity.  I may have a special feeling of connection, as I too, was in a serious car wreck when I was 16.  I was a passenger in a car with friends, and the driver over corrected after leaving the pavement, and ran head on into a telephone pole. I woke up partially through the windshield, and was told by the rescuers that had I been any larger I would have been ejected completely.  I am grateful to be here today, with only a few telltale scars. In hindsight, I choose to look at these adverse life events as challenge lessons that make us stronger and more resilient.

I found some great quotes by others who have triumphed despite the circumstances they faced:

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” -Booker T. Washington

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“We must learn and not be limited by the experiences of our lives. We are strong, and we all have a dreamer inside of us. Anything is possible if we are willing to persevere. Overcoming adversity is the secret of champions. Through having the right mindset, not making excuses or taking “no” for an answer, having faith, and being energized by success, you can overcome anything that life has to throw at you.” Jamelle Sanders

So, as we enter this season of thankfulness and gratefulness, reflect on your own triumphs over adversities, and your accomplishments.  I trust there are many.

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