Fueling Your Fire with a Focus on What You Have

Last week, we had the privilege of virtually spending two afternoons with a new client – a non-profit focused on the spinal cord injury community. Their team is a mix of individuals who have personally experienced spinal cord injuries and paralysis, family members who have walked beside loved ones with injuries, and others who are drawn to the organization’s mission… to cure and restore what’s been lost by using what hasn’t been lost.

Stepping back a bit to get real, the word “experienced” doesn’t capture the essence of their stories or being impacted by a spinal cord injury. One moment you can stand, walk, go to the bathroom, run a marathon, make love – the next you can’t. In an instant, everything changes, and you’re facing a world of things you can’t do. At least, that’s where the journey begins. Over time, there’s a process of relearning and rekindling the things you love, just differently. People shared stories of returning to dance, wheeling marathons, making music, and playing wheelchair rugby.

There’s one moment that struck us during our conversations, as one of their team put their personal experience into words.

“You want a sense of purpose, to feel productive with what you have. So much has been taken away. You’re dependent on other people for so many things… But, you still have your mind, your voice, your connection, your power.”

“But, you still have…” Those final words, shared by a man who had lost much but still possessed his fire, left a profound impact on us. It would have been easy to stop on all things that had been taken away and lost, but instead, he ended with what he still had, which became his fuel.

The timing of this conversation, based on what we’re all experiencing right now, was perfect.

Today, as we’re facing a world of things we can’t do, we’ve all experienced some level of feeling paralyzed. Let’s put this out there. To be clear, the two don’t even remotely compare. There is no comparison between being dealt with a life-altering spinal cord injury and this pandemic, but the burning concept of resilience is woven between the two.

We’ve all experienced loss over the past few months, on different levels. We’ve lost freedom, lost jobs, lost income and opportunities, and some have lost loved ones – this looks entirely different for each of us. A lot has been taken away, and that needs to be recognized, mourned, and acknowledged. There needs to be a place for identifying what’s gone. It’s a basic human need to grieve, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for us to get stuck there.

But instead, there’s power in going back to that statement. “But, you still have…”

We can each refocus on something higher behind what we’ve lost, the things that haven’t been taken away. Our minds, our voices, our connections, and our power. That list could go on and on. There are so many things that we can still hold onto in the face of significant challenges.

If there’s one lesson we can all walk out of this pandemic with, that’s it – a continued focus on those simple words…

“But, we still have…”

“But, I still have…”

Fill in the blanks from there.

As summer begins, many of us will return to bonfires and campfires as a place to create connections. Personally, some of our fires have died down to embers. It’s been a few months since we put any wood on those fires, or they had the fuel they need to burn with the same intensity they did back in January. Today, with a mindset focused on what we still have, it’s time to give those embers some oxygen and fuel those flames.


Grab a piece of paper and make your list. What do you still have? Write it down and take the next two to three minutes to be grateful for what’s in front of you. Refocus on those things and add some fuel to your own fire today.

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