An Inspirational Twist On Overcoming Adversity

Have you ever questioned your ability? Of course you have, we all have. Uncertainty is typically the stem of our fear when confronting change and the biggest hurdle when dealing with adversity. It becomes even scarier when we attempt to do something new or that we have tried, but failed.

Road blocks are common in life, but we rarely take the time to appreciate what they can do for us. Our instincts tell us to react negatively to the adversity we face.I challenge you to push back against your instincts and reprogram yourself to respond differently.

In 2007, I set out to become the first person in history to run a 10k with no legs. I had completed a 5k the previous year, so this was the next step I took to push myself.  I would be running on the same course from the previous year, but now I was doubling the distance. At the time, I was in college so academics were my top priority.  I hoped that the alternative training regimen I used would allow me to be competitive.

“Let’s go!” my race partner yelled.  I started beforethe other race participants, so I needed to followthe course markers to point me in the right direction.Early in the race, I started to trek up a hill. I was winded like my lungs were holding their breath, I could feel the incline.  I knew I should have ratcheted up my endurance training, but, in that moment, I couldn’t change the past.

Looking around, I no longer saw any indicators of where the next leg of race was.  I was dumbfounded.  Had I taken a wrong turn?Where was I?  I had already gone about a quarter of a mile.  Should I turn around and go back to the cross street or should I keep going and see where this takes me?I was lost.

I wanted to scream, but that would not get me to the finish any faster.  This event suddenly felt like a waste of time.  By the time I finally found the course marker and tried to make up ground, the 10K had already won that day.

Unlike the previous year when cheering spectators lined the sidewalks, the galleries were empty now.  The water stations were being packed up, and, while my parents were there to encourage me to the finish, I was alone on the road.

When I crossed the finish line as the first person with no legs to ever complete a 10K run, the race MC did not even announce me coming in; there was nobody to tell.  An accomplishment had never felt so disheartening.  The awards ceremony was wrapping up and only a handful of people remained to see my walk of shame.  It took me over three hours to finish an event that should have taken me a little over two.  I failed.

So, do you think I let uncertainty get the best of me? Absolutely not! This was one of my life experiences that I gained the most from.  I encourage you to take the first step I did in confronting my poor performance.  I held myself accountable for my failure that day. It was my lack of training that put me in that position. I vowed that I would never let myself do that again. I would not set myself up for failure.

Some people say they are going to accomplish a goal, some may accomplish it, but with poorerthan expected results and then there are those people who actually hit their goals. If I let uncertainty get the best of me that day then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to fail and more importantly, learn from my mistake.  Next time you encounter adversity,I encourage you to think about it as an opportunity to challenge yourself. If it doesn’t end with the result you had in mind, learn from the experience and make the changes you know are holding you back.


John Tartaglio is an expert motivational and inspirational speaker that speaks to audiences about overcoming adversity. In 2004, John was 17 years old and diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection that only affected 35 people in medical history. To save his life doctors had no choice but to amputate his legs and left bicep that night. John survived while only given a 20% chance to live. He went from being told he would never walk again to becoming the first and only person in history to run a marathon with no legs.He empowers audiences to align their lives to pursue what they value and meet their goals.