I’ve had the chance to take up Scuba diving a long time ago and although I’m not a pro, I really enjoy the stillness, the coolness of being vulnerable and depending on oxygen as well as seeing a spectacle of fish and wildlife.
Once in Thailand I was diving and noticed a 3 meter long nurse shark sleeping right below me. I didn’t dare disturb his slumber as I thought to myself ‘I’m a guest here and this is his home’. It was the first time I got this close to a shark.
My second hero is someone you probably saw surfing on Social Media and her name is Bethany Hamilton. Bethany has demonstrated to me like Muhammad Ali, courage to push when she really wanted something. Bethany suffered a terrible life threatening injury yet she had the courage to face her fear. I was spellbound when I read about her.
Read her story and ask yourself; if Bethany can do what she did, perhaps my challenge pales in comparison so could I do better? Can I push away my fears? Can I also become truly remarkable or great?
Born into a family of surfers on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany began surfing at a young age. At the age of eight, Bethany entered her first state-wide surf competition, winning both the short and long board divisions and sparking in herself a love for surf competition. She went on to take runner up at the 2003 US National Championships.
On October 31, 2003, at the age of 13, Bethany was attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack took Bethany’s left arm, seemingly ending her career as a rising surf star just as it was beginning.
Bethany says: “It was Jesus Christ who gave me peace when I was attacked by the shark. They had to get me to the beach, which took 20 minutes of paddling.”
After losing more than 60 percent of her blood, and making it through several surgeries without infection, Bethany was on her way to recovery with an unbelievably positive attitude. Lifeguards and doctors believe her strong water sense and faith in God helped get her through the traumatic ordeal. Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water.
“It was what God had taught me growing up that helped me overcome my fear and get back on the board.”
In January of 2004 – 3 months later, Bethany made her return to surf competition, placing fifth in the Open Women’s division. With no intention of stopping, Bethany continued to enter and excel in competition. Just over a year after the attack she took first place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championships—winning her first National Title.
Let’s pause for a second. Even after this terrible encounter this young lady goes back in the water knowing full well that sharks are plentiful and keeps surfing. Can you imagine the fear of getting back in the water?
It’s a known fact that if you fall off your bicycle, a horse or your motorcycle the only way to face your fear is to ‘get back on’ no matter how bruised up you are. In Bethany’s case we’re not talking about simple bruises and the scenario is different – the sharks are still there, somewhere.
In 2007, Bethany realized her dream and turned pro. Bethany has since participated in numerous Association of Surfing Professionals and World Tour Events with her major highlight being a second place finish in the ASP 2009 World Junior Championships. She competes with the world’s best and travels the globe throughout Europe, South America, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji, the United States and Hawaii.
Bethany has shared her life story in her autobiography, Soul Surfer, as well as several faith-based books and devotionals. She was the subject and inspiration of the 2007 documentary, Heart of a Soul Surfer.
Bethany has launched her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which supports shark attack survivors, traumatic amputees, and serves to inspire others through her life story, and is involved in numerous other charitable efforts.
What this young lady has accomplished is jaw-dropping and awe inspiring.
She gets back in the water; she competes; she wins. What are the odds of combining all three actions?
Bethany is a role model.
So, the next time your dream goal seems challenging, remember that one’s dream takes courage, faith and it requires that you face your fears. As Bethany has taught us, no matter what dangers exist or severe the consequences, you can survive and live for another day!
Finally, ask yourself… How bad do you want it?
Source: Excerpts from the soulsurfer.com web site
Check out my TEDx talk! You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_3VLI-LEA