I just read an article about Cory Hahn, an impressive young man who once had a promising future as a baseball player, possibly as a major leaguer. Early in his college baseball career at Arizona State University, Cory suffered a terrible injury while sliding head-first into second base, which left him paralyzed from his chest down. Cory’s response to this was to work non-stop in a seemingly endless effort to prove his doctors wrong about every single activity they told him he’d never be able to do again. By two years after his accident, Cory was on track to graduate in four years from ASU with a business degree, even though he had taken a year off to rehab from his injury. And he managed, somehow, to drive 6 ½ hours using a special hand-controlled van.
Cory’s resilience, optimism and pure dogged determination to succeed is impressive. It teaches us an important lesson. In overcoming obstacles, optimism is crucial; but it is meaningless without hard work – sometimes, grueling and difficult effort for a long time – to back it up. Cory talked about his refusal to accept his doctors’ and others’ predictions about the many things he’d never be able to accomplish. But his actions showcase a willingness to put in the time – the grinding, gutsy hard work, over the long haul – to spend countless hours in physical therapy and to devote himself relentlessly to any task he tries to conquer.
As I start a second day of the work week, I can’t help but draw inspiration from Cory’s example. I’m an optimist by nature. But Cory reminds me to back up that optimism with dedicated, consistent, focused work. As with Cory, the payoff can be truly amazing.