One of the key elements of successful people in all walks of life seems to be their amazing capacity for focus, clear goals, determination, the willingness and ability to learn and adapt as things change or circumstances out of their control come into play. And in meeting, talking with and working for some great leaders the one thing that seems to come up again and again is the “No Excuses” way of life.
These people seem to have an incredible ability to focus on the important stuff, learn along the way and despite the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges find a way to not allow there to be any excuses to reach the finish line. No doubt we are all built differently, but I also know many of us including me are capable of much more than we realize sometimes.
In beginning to write this month’s newsletter on this very subject, I stumbled across a mini-documentary on a very young man exhibiting all these qualities. It also served as a reminder that we can always use the help and guidance of a friend, mentor, or coach to get there. We do not have to do it all alone. This short film made me stop, slow down, think about what I had just written and take into account his story to support what I was about to launch to all of you. Here it is, the story of Isaiah Bird, age 7, from Glen Cove, NY.
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”.
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 mini-documentary telling his story, Isaiah clearly states 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.
“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.”