It was late July of 2006 and I was lying in a hospital bed after a suicide bomber exploded 3-feet away from me in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
My life was instantly derailed. I was burned 2nd and 3rd degree and my mind was jarred by a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) caused by the blast. I was different, and the compass of my life was broken. I didn’t know where to go from there.
And then Dave happened.
Dave was my first mentor, a combat-wounded Vietnam Veteran who overcame his extensive war injuries, had been happily married to the same woman for decades, and had created an amazing life and highly successful career for himself.
That completely blew me away (no pun intended!). So instead of focusing on the pit I was in, I began focusing on finding a way out.
Veterans with disabilities have an edge in today’s marketplace like never before. And they’re using that advantage to create the lifestyle they want, grow highly-profitable businesses, and create meaningful lives for themselves and their families. While some disabilities are more debilitating than others, many can be used for tremendous good.
I began sharing my story publicly because I wanted to help other people overcome their struggles and redeem their own stories. A decade later, I’d written 3 books and had the privilege of speaking to over half-a-million people in live audiences across 42 US states, in 7 countries, and on 4 continents- teaching them how to stand firm when everything around them is blowing up in their lives, as well as how to make a difference and an income sharing their stories at UseYourStory.com
A lot of people mistake a DISABILITY for a DISADVANTAGE, but the truth is that a disability can sometimes give you the greatest advantage!
++Here are the 5 reasons why:++
- People Underestimate You. It sounds rude, unfair, and politically incorrect, but its true. People often, and unconsciously, underestimate those with disabilities. The number one rule in a fight is to ‘never under-estimate your opponent.’ In combat, doing so can cost you your life. If people want to underestimate you, let them. They won’t take you seriously or oppose you as much, and that can work to your advantage and help you win.
- People Judge You. And yes, this can be a good thing because it often filters out inauthentic people early-on in your venture who would secretly seek to use you to their own advantage. People DO judge a book by it’s cover. But in doing so, they also cheat themselves out of the knowledge and insight they could otherwise gain that could help them win. While judging you, people will criticize you in front of their friends and family. Let them! This works in your favor because it exposes you and your business to people who wouldn’t have heard of you otherwise and can be helped by what you do.
- People Don’t See What You See. People who face unique challenges, disabilities, and circumstances have the advantage of an uncommon perspective often overlooked by others. Hardship forces insightful life lessons upon us that we often understand on a level deeper than most. And disabilities present ‘problems’ for a lot of people. Fortunately, the backbone of any highly successful business is it’s ability to identify and solve a customer’s problems. All you need to do is find an urgent, pressing problem and create a solution for it. Given your condition, whatever that may be, you might just discover an opportunity others have overlooked.
- People Will Listen to You. People are eager to learn valuable life lessons they can apply to their own lives to be happier and get what they want. If you have a disability, it uniquely qualifies you to talk about how to overcome challenges. Let your ‘crutch’ be your credibility. What many people perceive as their curse is actually the very thing that often makes them stand out and get noticed in a noisy, over-crowded marketplace of people who need them.
- People Are Empowered By You. When people see an ‘underdog’ overcoming the odds stacked against him or her, their own belief in themselves is built up. They think: “If that person can do all of that, in spite of their circumstances, maybe I can overcome mine as well.” Inspiration is a universal language and has no ethnic boundaries or language barriers. This is POWERFUL! Your story can spark viral ‘word-of-mouth’ awareness about your business or cause because people love sharing inspiring, real-life stories with their friends and family (just look at some of the best movies ever produced).
No matter what you’ve been through, no matter what your disability, you have a story to tell that can inspire others and give you a killer competitive advantage in the marketplace that will allow you to help more people, increase your bottom line, and make a real difference in the world!
Are you a military veteran? Do you know a military veteran? If you want to discover how to win your daily inner battles, take a peek at my book, ++REDEPLOYED: How Combat Veterans Can Fight The Battle Within and Win The War at Home++. I think you'll enjoy it. ;)