Despite losing his legs at the age of 11 months, Oscar Pistorius enrolled at school and played rugby, water polo and tennis, just like any regular able-bodied kid. He was introduced to running in 2004, at the age of 18, while recovering from a rugby injury. In the same year, he won and set a new world record in the 200 metres event at the Paralympic Games.
In anyone's book, Oscar's story could already rate as among the most inspirational of all time. But the man known as “Blade Runner” or “The fastest man on no legs,” has set his sights on a stiff challenge.
Oscar has long dreamed of competing against able-bodied athletes in the Olympic Games.
With this goal clear in his mind, he developed a strategy to achieve that success. Slowly but surely, his stride-by-stride strategy is actualising his dream into a reality.
After three years of obstacles, in 2007 Oscar for the first time got the go-ahead to participate in an international sprinting event for able-bodied athletes. But in the same year, an apparently alarmed International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that Oscar's artificial ‘legs' gave him an unfair advantage, and amended its rules to disqualify Oscar from participating in future events for able-bodied athletes.
After such a stunning reversal, most ordinary people would simply have given up. But Oscar is a rare and tough individual. He took his case to court and won.
As Oscar had a clear goal and worked out a strategy of how to achieve that goal - he accepted this setback as a challenge that needed to be overcome.
Later in 2008, only months after his legal victory, Oscar won gold medals at the Paralympics in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprinting events. He banked these successes as just stepping stones to his much bigger goal: qualifying for the Olympic Games.
In July 2011 Oscar sprinted to an Olympic qualifying time – a dream come true. Or was this just another chapter in the story of a man whose determination and skill can help him overcome any obstacle? I am sure every South African – and multitudes of viewers from around the world - is behind Oscar in his pursuit to qualify for the Olympics.
What lessons can you take from Oscar's life and story?
Is it achieving the most at any cost? Is it about setting goals and following through despite obstacles or challenges? Is it about proving to yourself and others that you are able? Or a combination of these?
Whatever lessons you take from the ‘Blade Runner's' inspirational life, you will know that you are able enough to overcome any
obstacles in reaching for the future and successes that you visualise.
But how? Whether your gifts – or hindrances - are a result of birth or circumstance, it's what you actually do with them that really counts.
Only you can set the limit on your ability. So if you can set it, then how about raising it to unimaginable limits?
Oscar's journey started with a stark reality, then a big dream, then surrounding himself with the best team and support possible to enable him to get where he needed to be. He was motivated and he has a winning attitude. Oscar's resilient willpower makes him able.
So the question is: will you take the necessary actions to deliver on your potential?
By focussing on what you need for success through goals, strategy and action, action, action – anything is completely possible.
Work with a teammate, or engage a professional coach to help you on your journey. But whatever you do, take that first stride. Oscar is living proof that you can - even without a leg to stand on. asa
Author: Stanford Payne CA(SA) is an Executive and Business Coach - ICF and Comensa member.