In 2001 Carol Taylor and her husband Robert were involved in a car accident that severed Carol’s spinal cord leaving her a high level quadriplegic. Today Carol lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her husband Robert and their 11 year old son. Carol and Robert operate a successful law practice while dealing with the daily obstacles and challenges that come with being paralyzed from the neck down.
Shane and Nikki sat down with Carol and recorded an in depth conversation for The Higher Ground Living Podcast about Carols first hand perspective and wisdom on overcoming adversity.
Here are 5 takeaways from that conversation:
1: Inner Strength: “We don’t realise the strength we have until we need it. We are vastly more resilient and powerful than we realise”. After the accident that left Carol a high level quadriplegic, she spent the next year in hospital overcoming life threatening injuries. Carol speaks of the first four years after the accident as being “so tough”. Learning how to build the mindset that would enable her to survive in the world with her injury was the greatest challenge. When we asked her what she would say to her pre injury self, Carol replied. ” I would tell her that you have no idea how strong and resilient you are”.
Carol shows us that we all have the potential to overcome great adversity. We must expand our vision and hold onto the faith that we can achieve great things to make the world a better place. We must let go of the fears and resistance that hold us back from our dreams. We are capable of so much more than what we believe we can achieve. Lets not wait for a tragedy to fall upon us before we realise it. A friend once said to me “people change out of inspiration or desperation”. Let’s take Carol’s story as inspiration to push us forward to achieve great things.
2: Adversity gives you the gift of resilience: “With the struggles i’ve been through you don’t get back to your old life, you rebuild another life. My former life is like a book i’ve read and put back on the shelf in the library. Now i’m writing another book. I didn’t know I had that strength but that strength came from the resilience in overcoming adversity”.
Most of us crumble in the face of adversity because we think we haven’t got the resilience to overcome it. What we are missing is that it is the adversity that will build the resilience in us. We don’t build resilience without adversity. Therefore if you are in the battle of adversity, let the challenge strengthen you. Don’t let it break you and give up. You can overcome, but it will take time and multiple small steps. Take one step at a time, don’t look too far ahead and get overwhelmed. (See takeaway 3)
3: Build a routine: “Begin with a small measure of routine, even if it’s just getting out of bed and sitting by the window. The next day you can get dressed. Before you know it you will be putting pen to paper or in my case painting. What you then create is a new normal. That new normal will be a thousand times worse than your old normal but at least you have a routine and your moving forward. That begins to normalise things and normalising things is how we begin the process of healing”.
Overcoming adversity is done by building a step by step routine. Starting small and growing in strength each day. We often get so caught up in the magnitude of the task ahead that we get paralyzed by fear and fill our minds with stress. All because we looked too far ahead and saw more than we could handle. Once we set our big picture goal then its time to get our eyes off that and onto the smaller steps we need to take to get there. These small steps are the key to overcoming and achieving.
4: Life goes on: “Realise that life goes on and it will go on tomorrow whether you like it or not. The sun will rise and everything in your world will seam like it is in slow motion but outside the window it’s all still moving. So the first thing you have to to do is realise that life will go on”.
This is a profound statement by Carol and she is certainly qualified to speak it. Our worlds do slow down in the wake of traumatic events. It is necessary to slow down to get healing but there is a point when it is time to get back on pace with the outside world. We do not want to get left too far behind because it can be harder and harder to catch up.
We need to remember that there are people waiting for us to recover and be a part of their lives again. There are people who need the inspiration of our recovery for their own recovery. Overcoming adversity sends out a ripple that effects all the people around us. Even people who are not known or even born yet. Carol needed to overcome for the sake of her future son. That was her dream, to build her life again so that she could become the mother she always dreamed of being. She needed to get back in pace with life and not give up. She forced herself forward with each tiny step of her routine until she achieved her goal.
5: Develop your mindset: “A wonderful lady that I knew during the first four years helped me a lot. One of the things she said to me was “Carol, where do you see yourself in five years? Your not going to be in this place where you are right now. Your body will never be the same, you will have to adapt but it will get stronger.” The thing that has gotten the strongest for me is my mind. Knowing that if you set your mind to something you can build the mindset you need to achieve it”.
We can get caught in the trap of thinking that we need to overcome with the mindset we already have. This is totally backwards, and will not work. We need to develop the mindset that equals the goal. The thinking we have at the beginning of a challenge is not the same thinking we need to overcome the challenge. We must strengthen our thinking as we move along the journey. This is what stops many of us from breaking through. We don’t realise that we will build our mindset as we go. Build your mindset by staying focused on your daily routine. In this way you will build the resilience you need, step by step, brick by brick until you have the mindset that sets you free.
In conclusion, if you are struggling to hold on through your adversity, realise that you do have the strength to overcome and breakthrough. There is no magic pill to take it all away. You have to build your resilience step by step. Get your eyes off the big picture that is overwhelming you and focus on a steady routine. By doing this you will build the strength in your mind and body that you need to succeed. One day you will wake up and realise that you have overcome the adversity you thought was going to crush you and now you can be an inspiration to help someone else get through their challenge.
Carol Taylor is such an amazing human being. It’s people like Carol that are the real hero’s of our society. They show us what is possible to endure and overcome. Through their unsolicited struggles and pain they inspire us to reach further forward than we ever thought we could. To honour these people who have suffered and overcome so much, lets make sure that we do.