Scott Belkner

Recently, a friend sent me a video on Scott Belkner, a man with cerebral palsy. Scott’s attitude reminds me of many of the children with disabilities that I used to substitute teach for years ago; they always had the best attitude. In the face debilitating conditions, they often dealt with them with grace and poise and dignity that we call all learn from.

Watch Scott’s video, and then think about all the excuses you make every day for not doing what you truly love. Watch Scott’s video and then think about all the times you quit trying at a particularly tough task (in all likelihood only a short time before a breakthrough was about to occur).

Scott says:

“My name is Scott. I am turning 30 next month. My mom tried to teach me to swim when I was a baby and I couldn’t swim. She asked why I couldn’t. [That’s how doctors] found out [about my condition]. They asked if she wanted to put me in a home. My disability is called CP. All my life people told me I can’t do things because of my disability. I don’t take that. …

If you have a disability and you want to do something, do it.

People out there who have a disability — please don’t feel sorry for yourself. If you can’t do it in one try, keep trying. It just takes me a little longer, but I get it done.

I’m not lying, it’s hard having a disability, but it won’t stop me from doing what I want to do.

[The doctor said] I would be like a vegetable. You can see me now. You know that it’s bulls**t. I couldn’t be like I am now if it was true.

How often is it that we let others dictate the outer limits of our success? Even if our goals and aspirations have long odds, why do we let others take us out of contention? Or, more accurately: Why do we take ourselves out of contention? If there are always outliers, then why can’t you be that outlier? Why would you willingly adopt a self-fulfilling prophecy of low expectations and underachievement? It makes no sense, and yet all of us are guilty of allowing unfounded fear and doubt to creep into our consciousness and take control of the wheel on occasion.

Scott’s story is also important because it demonstrates just how special life — all life — is. In most conversations I have that touch on disability or old age, the phrase “quality of life” tends to come up. It’s usually a euphemism for “a quality of life that wouldn’t suit me.”

What would Scott’s life have been like if his mother listened to doctors who said he’d be like “a vegetable” and sent him off to a home? The doctors’ predictions probably would have come to fruition, and almost 500,000 would not have been inspired by the YouTube video of him. All the people Scott inspires on a daily basis within his home town would not be touched by his tenacity and can-do spirit. And while the world would have gone on spinning, it would have been one a little less hopeful and a little less optimistic.

The next time life throws a daunting set of obstacles in your path I hope you think of Scott, bear down, and then keep trying.

Scott Belkner weights

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

7 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Scott with us. Gotta love that smile when he retells the story of his mom saying “HELL NO” to the doctors. What a gift it is to be born and pursue happiness.

  2. I don’t think the point should be that Scott is inspirational. Rather, Scott is telling us himself just like anyone else, doing his thing, which happens to be cool. Don’t see it as something that you should hold up in front of yourself as an inspirational better-mirror. I’m sure there are days that Scott doesn’t feel like getting up and working out, and I bet he doesn’t. As another person with CP, let me remind you that we are just people. Doing our thing, what ever that thing maybe. Everyone else is free to do their own.

    1. Someone can be inspirational without being considered a “better-mirror.” I would certainly call a person inspirational if they were cast off as a would-be “vegetable,” only to prove their doctors wrong by a wide margin. There are many “points” that we can take from Scott’s life. One way to frame it would be as you have done. Another, as I have. One is no more of a correct reading than the other.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

  3. loved this. i do think it’s inspirational. and that scott is. not because he is more special than anyone else with c.p. it’s not a comparison of him to others with c.p., but rather a comparison of him to others {most people} who don’t have to face the same obstacles he does to achieve what he has. and that is inspiring. inspiring, because even though he faced/faces those obstacles and had to fight harder than most others would have with his same aspirations, he didn’t let it stop him. that’s the part that’s helpful to me. i don’t have c.p… or any physical disabilities for that matter. but i have other disabilities and obstacles that rear their ugly head in the path of things i am desperately trying to accomplish. very recently, i went into “i give up” mode, because i felt those things were bigger than me and i was tired of jumping over the hurdles. i like to think i’m on a break, though… especially when i read things like this and am reminded that i can overcome if i set my mind to it. so i tend to agree with your point of view, doug. it is an inspiring story. it’s inspiring that neither scott nor his mom took the alternative route. he is the epitome of one of my favorite quotes… “you can either celebrate what you can do or mourn what you can’t.”

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Georgia, and for fleshing out a bit what I meant. Indeed, I don’t think Scott is “better” than anyone. But what he has done tends to put things in perspective when I complain about many of the obstacles in my own life — that are, by comparison, rather trivial. We really do have a choice in terms of how we confront the challenges life throws our way, as your quote points out. Before we die we the range of experiences we have will vary greatly, but how we handle them is up to us.

    2. yes!! agreed. what is more impressive than anything he has accomplished {given his condition} is his attitude.

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