If you ever have a day when you give in to feeling sorry for yourself consider the directive of British fighter pilot, Douglas Bader. “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick. Then have a go at everything. Go to school; join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”
Bader offered this advice to a fourteen-year-old boy who lost a leg after a car accident. If anyone had the right to make such a recommendation it was Bader for he had lived this philosophy. Douglas Bader lost both legs (one above the knee, the other below the knee) as a result of an accident while performing foolish airplane acrobatics. Doctors told him he wouldn’t fly again, but he decided otherwise.
After World War II began he reapplied to the Royal Air Force and was accepted. Thus he returned to flying using two artificial legs. Bader became a leading ace pilot and was credited with shooting down 22 German planes while leading his squadron and participating in the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and other air battles. He also became a leading strategist of air warfare and an inspirational leader to the men he led in battle.
During the war he was captured by the Germans and spent 3 ½ years as a prisoner of war, during which time he staged several unsuccessful attempts to escape. And true to his word, he never did let his lack of legs keep him from attempting anything.
After surviving internment and the war, Bader got married and was ultimately knighted for his work with the disabled. Often we judge disability to be a terrible handicap. Yet Douglas Bader's example proved that a person’s disability has less to do with his physical condition than it has to do with his attitude.
Do you have a disability that gets in the way? It can be mental, emotional, or physical. If so, perhaps it is time to practice Douglas Bader's philosophy and get busy. It worked for him and it will work for you!
Jean Walters is a speaker, best selling author, counselor, and teacher. If you want to work through a limitation or gain clarity, life purpose, and direction, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org