By Mark E. Smith
I’m not a miracle worker, but no matter what problem you throw at me, I can tell you in three words how to solve it: Find a way.
If there’s one life-changing, ever-empowering truth that disability experience has taught me, it’s that there’s always a way to resolve or accomplish what we wish – we just have to find a way to do it. It may not be initially evident; it may not be easy; it may not seem practical; and, it may even seem ludicrous. Yet, to any challenge or situation in life, there is a way to resolve it – we just have to find the way.
I often share the story of my shoe laces. For the first 25 years of my life, I couldn’t tie my own shoes based on my lack of dexterity and coordination. Now, in the grand scheme of life, not being able to tie one’s own shoes may not seem like a big deal – after all, there are far more serious limitations in life – but it was one of the last pieces to my physical independence. The ability to tie my own shoes meant the difference between being able to fully dress independently or forever rely on others.
For years, I tried all sorts of shoes, with all sorts of practice. But, alas, I could never coordinate shoe laces well enough to tie them. I even got to the point where I could make the loops, but as I went to cross them, all fell apart. It was forever frustrating, to say the least, right down to my brother having to tie my shoes on my wedding day.
Yet, after years of practice, trial, error, and failure, I was so close to tying my own shoes that I knew that I could do it – I just had to find a way. And, so I reanalyzed my process, and realized that where the issue was, was that when I went to cross the shoe lace loops, my poor coordination over-extended the shoelaces, causing them to come undone. If only I had more shoelace length to work with, I could cinch the loops before pulling the ends out…. And, in that was the answer: get longer shoelaces! Indeed, I found a way, and till this day, 72” shoelaces are the solution I use to tie my shoes. It wasn’t that I couldn’t tie my own shoes; rather, I simply had to find a way to do it.
Finding a way is amazing because it empowers us to find a solution to any problem rather than accepting it. A task or situation may seem impossible, but if we truly believe that there is a way to successfully solve it – we just have to find it – it inspires us to not just try, but try harder, as well as go into situations with a can-do attitude.
I admit, I’ve become pretty skilled at finding a way, where when I encounter a challenge, I don’t shy from it; rather, I go into find-a-way mode. I recently wanted to interview a business titan for a book I’m writing. The individual is bigger than life, worth an estimated $2-billion, and has an insanely busy schedule. I remember thinking, How am I going to track this individual down, let alone get a several-hour interview? The answer immediately struck me: Find a way.
I thought for a moment who might have the individual’s personal contact information – as I wanted to get direct to the source – and with a single email exchange, I scored both the individual’s and the individual’s assistant’s contact information. Bingo! I then sent an email to the assistant, and within 20 minutes, I had an interview scheduled. I flew to the individual’s headquarters, and ended up with an amazing two-hour interview. If I had told most folks who I wanted to interview and where, they would have thought it crazy. There’s no way you’ll pull that off, most would have said. However, knowing that I just had to find a way to pull it all together made the seemingly impossible ridiculously easy. There I was, having flown partly across the country, sitting in the individual’s stately office, hearing amazing, never-before-told stories to include in my book.
See, that’s the eloquence of find a way – it immediately makes the impossible totally plausible. Are you having difficulty accomplishing a goal? Find a way. Are you struggling to get the results in a particular aspect of your career that you want? Find a way. Do you want to make major changes to your life? Find a way. Do you want to live your dreams? Find a way!
No, anything truly worth striving for isn’t easy, nor without complications. But, if it’s truly worth doing – if you’re truly dedicated to accomplishing it – there’s a way to do it. Find it. Live it. Never give up hope, as there’s always a way….