In my travels, especially this new year of 2018, I continue to have the pleasure of meeting people who exhibit what I consider a critical quality to life and work/career. There are tons of attributes, key characteristics, behaviors that help people succeed and overcome challenges. But the one that seems common in both the “regular folks” and those who seem to overachieve is PERSISTENCE. They may or may not see the challenge facing them, but between attitude, focus and an ability to not give up and drive towards their goal….they get there.
This month, I am revisiting one of my all time favorite stories exemplifying all of that and more, much more. And this time we will bring you up to speed on where that inspirational person is today. First written about a little over two years ago, this story is even more amazing today!
So, without further delay, let’s learn all about the “NO EXCUSES” approach to life from one of the best, Isaiah Bird.
Isaiah’s life is far from the norm for most if not all of us for a variety of reasons. He was born with a birth defect that resulted in his being born with no legs. In addition to that, he was being raised in far from ideal circumstances. His father has been in prison a large amount of the time and his parents have actually been involved in domestic violence against each other. He lives the majority of the time now in a church homeless shelter in Glen Cove, NY with his mother and younger brother. Based on that, his age and his physical challenges one might think Isaiah is doomed to a very difficult life. Keep reading!
Luckily for Isaiah a guardian angel came into his life at school. Miguel Rodgriguez, a classroom aid who also functions as a wrestling coach, took Isaiah under his wing. During the wrestling season, Isaiah stays 5-6 days a week with Rodriguez, his girlfriend, Miguel’s own son (Elijah) and his mother. Miguel himself came from Venezuela to the US back in 1997, with practically nothing and very few prospects for success. According to Miguel, wrestling saved his life. He now is doing his part to provide a platform for Isaiah and his mother to achieve their own level of success.
Rodriguez has been the coach of the Long Beach NY Gladiators for a number of years. They are a competitive youth wrestling club with a long history of success in New York State wrestling. Just as a trial to see how he would do, Miguel took Isaiah to practice with him one day. Flash forward just two short years later. Isaiah Bird, the boy with no legs, a rocky home life, no real father and limited prospects has become one of the best wrestlers in his age group for the entire state of New York. According to his coach and others, when he first started wrestling “He was cute. Now he IS the competition. He is the guy to beat.” Wow. Does he always win? No. But most of the time he does. And his attitude is exemplified in this quote from Isaiah. “I always try my best. It’s okay if you don’t win, because we go out there, shake hands, say ‘good job’ and that’s it.” But the biggest thing that jumped out from both Isaiah and his coach/mentor/father figure Miguel was the constant phrase “No excuses”.
Bird is now 9 years old and still is a competitive wrestler two+ years later. In fact, his record last year(2017) was 27-12. That alone amazes me. And Rodriguez is still Isaiah’s coach and teacher’s assistant, as he has been since the young competitor born with no legs was 5 years old.
When asked about his success, Bird says that he just keeps pushing on to be the best he can.
“[I say:] ‘I can do this. There’s no excuses. I can do this.’ And I just do it,” Bird told ABC News “And I keep practicing and practicing. If I, one day I get pinned … I go back to practicing and practicing and I get better and better and better.”
And Isaiah doesn’t limit himself to wrestling, either. He has many other activities he enjoys despite his seeming disadvantage of having no legs. Here’s a snippet from one of his many interviews, this one from the BBC. Check it out!
For such a very young man from a very troubling environment, Isaiah seems to have somehow figured some things out that many adults struggle with. In the telling of his story to numerous media outlets over the past 4+ years, Isaiah has clearly and consistently stated he wants to go to college, teach, have children of his own and spend his life teaching & coaching kids less fortunate.
Obviously, people do and have looked at him and felt bad, but clearly Isaiah feels much the opposite. I don’t know about you but I found it very inspirational. In closing, here is my favorite quote from our star and role model this month. I just love this little guy and his message.
“My name is Isaiah Bird. I have no legs, but that’s okay, because God made me that way. I’m a Gladiator, and there are no excuses.”