The Invictus Games are about survival in the face of adversity and the strength of the human spirit. They send a positive message about life beyond disability. Sarah Storey once said to me that it is better to use the word ‘impairment’ and not ‘disability’, as an impairment implies more of a challenge than an inability to do something. Just look at the difference in the dictionary definition for each one:
- Lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity.
- A physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.
- Anything that disables or puts one at a disadvantage.
- Weakening, damage, or deterioration, especially as a result of injury or disease.
- To make or cause to become worse; diminish in ability, value, excellence, etc.; weaken or damage
We all have impairments
I’ve been thinking further on this with regards to my own experience and my clients’, as most of us have disabilities that not only impair us in one way or another, but can really get us down and stop us in our tracks. They may not be obvious – maybe even completely unnoticeable to others – but they are there. It might be a whiplash injury, arthritis, a bad accident with a plate in our leg or just repetitive strains, but they can all hinder our activities, just as mental impairments like dyslexia, autism, or depression and anxiety, to name a few.
Our own impairments may seem obvious, however, often they are not and may even be completely unnoticeable to others. What the Invictus Athletes show us is that, rather than focus on what we can’t do, we should focus on what we can do. We may not all aspire to be elite athletes but we can find our own challenges and live a full life. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.”
The Invictus Athletes have held this torch and it is our duty to take hold and let it burn brightly, however small it may seem. But please don’t let those impairments get the way.