In 2004, Jan Mela, at age 15, became the youngest person to reach the North Pole. And then eight months later, reached the South Pole. This was a great feat by the Polish explorer, but that is not the amazing part.

Jan Mela did this as a double amputee.

At age 13, Mela was electrocuted in an accident and lost one arm and one leg.

But he did not give up on life.

William Arthur Ward once said, “Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.”

We don’t choose what happens to us in life, but we certainly choose how we respond.

If Jan Mela can be the youngest person to reach the North and South Poles as a double amputee…



In Derek Jeter’s professional debut in the minor leagues, he played a doubleheader and went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts.

He doubted himself.

But he didn’t show it. Nobody knew.

He continued to work hard and he persisted.

Challenges can make or break you.

In fact, William Arthur Ward once said, “Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.”

How do you react in challenging situations?



The other scene I really liked in “Fetch Clay, Make Man” was when Stepin Fetchit was teaching Muhammad Ali the secret anchor punch of the great Jack Johnson.

Fetchit said it started from the stomach and goes through your whole body. You reach back and use all the years of slavery and hardship and you put it all into that punch.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I promoting violence. It doesn’t matter if you’re boxing, playing tennis, making sales calls or taking a test.

You have to go all out. You have to make it important.

I remember a story about a grandmother that picked up a car by herself when her grandson was stuck under it. She had never lifted a weight in her life.

That’s desire. And desire wins.

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”

We are like ten-speed bikes…we have gears we have never even used.


“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”

Last night I attended “BID TO BUILD UGANDA,” a silent auction and WARDANCE film showing in Princeton, organized by Yoga for Unity, and its founder, Kristen Boccumini. Boccumini has already raised $20,000 for this cause and plans on going to Uganda in February to help out.

In Uganda, there has been a civil war going on for 20 years.

“They live in conditions unimaginable to us always living in fear. Rebels come in the night and steal the children away, forcing boys to join and kill even their own family members while the girls are forced into sex slavery.”

The film, WARDANCE told us about five year old boys raising their three year old sisters. And babies born with HIV and dying soon after.

But luckily the children have a distraction – music and dance.

This moving film shows one tribe’s quest to become the best performers in all of Uganda.

Their instructors kept talking about “mood” and the importance of smiling. When they are playing music and dancing, all of their troubles vanish. Life is good.

They worked hard. “We are going to show them that we are giants.”

Remember David and Goliath?

The competition consisted of eight categories and they, the Potango tribe, ended up winning the Traditional Dance category. They were the first ones to ever bring home a trophy.

Nobody expected them to win, but they worked hard and believed in themselves.

“Even though we live in the war zone, we can still do great things in life.”

You may not live in the war zone, but you may have some adversity in your life. You may face challenges. The right attitude will determine what type of results you get.

Bob Ryland lived through segregation. He thought, “It is what it is. You can’t do anything about it.” But Ryland is one of the most optimistic people I know.

You should have seen the smiles on the children of Uganda when they were singing and dancing.

If Bob Ryland and the children of Uganda can smile in adverse situations, I think we have it pretty good. I know I will never complain again.

Don’t count the days, make the days count.

Thanks for reading.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Richard Ridley.

We all have challenges, big and small. We will always have them. If you try to go through life without problems, you’re in for a big surprise. We cannot control our problems – only our reactions. Here’s what the great William Arthur Ward had to say:

“The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain – he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem – he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills.”

And, speaking of mountains, the great Tal Ben-Shahar, Harvard professor and author of the book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, said that “Happiness is not making it to the peak of the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak.” In other words, focus on the process (your strategy) instead of the product (winning).

When I asked Dr. Ben-Shahar what the keys to success were, in his opinion, he said, Passion (love for what one does), efficacy (belief in one’s self), and hard work (persistence, dedication).

And that’s how you get things done…

Thanks for reading.