Each morning when I take a run, I see a man named Kevin on the greenway in my city. We always greet each other with a smile and do small talk as we pass each other by.
Kevin walks with a walker and exercises daily using it. I've always been quite captivated when I see him, so a few weeks ago, I decided to stop my run and just ask him about his journey.
He shared lots that I will share with you later, but one thing he said really resonated.
He told me that when he started walking in 2019 he could only make it a half-block and had to turn around and head home. Fast forward to 2022, and he is walking two to three miles per day with his walker.
His story made me wonder, "If I had experienced all he had, would I have just told myself that I couldn’t do it?"
How many people would have stopped trying? Given up too easily?
We, humans, get stuck in our thoughts and get comfortable making excuses for not being able to do something. We settle for something less than we actually want. We tell ourselves that we:
- Are too old to start something new
- Have too many aches and pains
- Aren’t smart enough
- Aren’t talented enough
- Aren’t capable enough
…and the list goes on.
Kevin was born with Spina Bifida, which means his spine did not fuse together properly. Most recently, he was diagnosed with a split and tethered spinal cord.
He told me that as a young child, he had braces on his legs, similar to that of Forrest Gump. He has always walked with a significant limp and had multiple knee surgeries, foot surgery, and his list goes on, too.
Yet each morning, I see him exercising. Walking with a walker at a slow pace and at a farther distance than he could three years ago.
Kevin is living proof that all of those things we tell ourselves are the very things that are holding us back. We can endure hard things. We can embrace the productive struggle; and within that, we can grow ourselves, our brains, our bodies, and our skill sets.
I believe that since Kevin has had to work harder than most at certain things in his life, he's developed more grit than most of us.
Grit is about mindset. It's about putting effort in and making decisions even when it feels hard and scary.
Kevin is quick to say he doesn't want to be an "inspiration" and that he's no different than anyone else. And while that’s true, I believe that he reminds us all that we can do hard things. We can climb another mountain. We have the ability to push ourselves.
And when we do, it's usually worth it.
But we must be willing to make ourselves uncomfortable because that's the only way we grow, and growing is important no matter our age.