Stephen was born in 1942 at a time of worldwide struggle. Europe was divided and broken, Asia was in turmoil and the United States had been dragged into a conflict it had tried to avoid.
In fact, Stephen was almost never born – a missile fell on a property just two homes away from his parents’ house.
So even before he was born Stephen was faced with adversity.
As a child, Stephen was known as a good student, but not brilliant. He chose safe subjects like math and science, and continued this to University.
He almost never made it this far, though, due to poor study habits and lack of note taking – his passing grade was just enough to get him into University.
At University, the problems started.
Stephen began to feel frequently weak. His muscles would become sore and stiff and he suffered terrible cramps. He would continue to suffer throughout University with these attacks, but this didn’t prevent him from gaining his Ph.D.
After leaving University, Stephen continued to suffer from poor health. Then, in 1974, the weakness and the cramps became an aside as he lost all use of his limbs. His speech slurred and then that, too, was lost. As a result, Stephen has been confined to a wheelchair for more than 30 years and communicates through a voice box.
Yet that’s just half Stephen’s story.
There Is Nothing But You Holding Yourself Back
Despite his disability, despite his inability to move and talk normally, Stephen is one of the most successful people in the world.
He’s been awarded an OBE in the United Kingdom; he’s won numerous awards and distinctions across the world; and he’s consistently cited in thousands of magazines and publications for his knowledge.
He’s made scientists worldwide rethink a lot of their discoveries.
Perhaps most unlikely of all, Stephen took a zero gravity flight in 2007 that allowed him to move freely without his wheelchair for the first time in 30 years. He’s also fathered three children.
So what’s the moral of this story?
That you can do anything. There is nothing but you holding yourself back.
That business you want to start? Do it.
That book you want to write? Do it.
That one big pitch to set you up for life? Do it.
That unbelievably beautiful girl or guy you want to ask out? Do it.
Life is short. We have a limited time to do everything we want to do, or need to do.
We need to make what we do brilliant every time. We need to nail that sales pitch. That marketing plan. That PR strategy. That customer service experience. That blog post. That online connection. That offline connection.
If a little boy called Stephen Hawking can overcome adversity from before he was born and be brilliant in his adult life in spite of an insane obstacle to overcome, then surely we can try and be brilliant every time too?
This is a chapter from my ebook “The Parables of Business: How Old Wisdom Can Help You Create New Mindsets”.
Available for just $0.99, it offers 11 chapters of business tips and advice through the art of storytelling.
You can learn more about it here.