Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Overcoming adversity: Lessons from an ex-paratrooper

Have you seen the incredibly inspiring video on You Tube about the ex-paratrooper from the Gulf War? He became obese and physically challenged. For 15 years, many doctors and specialists said he’d never walk unassisted again. He finally found one yoga instructor who believed in him and...well, you really should just watch the video: 

When I watched this video for the 2nd (and 3rd) time, I felt incredibly moved- to tears. I was so touched by his resilience and his ability to overcome these challenges. I’m sure there were many, many times when he wanted to give up, but he didn’t. So this raises the following questions for me:
  • What does it take to truly believe in someone?
  • What does it take for someone to develop that level of internal grit and perseverance?
If these “character traits” are such determining factors of success, (which they are, according to Paul Tough's book How Children Succeed, on which I wrote this previous post), then we MUST help students build them- so that they can overcome barriers and live to their fullest potential. 

There are many challenges that the students in our city of Berkeley face. We have students who are homeless, in foster care, who face the threat of drugs and violence on a daily basis. These are serious obstacles in their path. But if they can develop the skills they need to overcome this adversity, they will succeed. We, as a community, must ensure that happens.


  1. Oh, Jenny, this gives so much hope. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I will spread the word! Love, Anne

    1. Thanks so much, Anne. I know- this is one of those videos I could watch over and over again as a reminder of what's possible.