Victim vs. Victory

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-by Matt Leedham

The world isn’t always a fair place. Life’s tough. Sometimes bad things happen. We all have our crosses to bear and baggage to carry with us on our journey.

It’s easy to slip into a victim state of mind…as if everything in life is just happening to you. As if you are at the effect of life, rather than at the cause of it.

We’re here to tell you that you have a choice. You can choose to be a victim or you can choose confront your fears and your “circumstances.” You can choose to fight.

I know what you’re thinking. This doesn’t apply to you. Your burden is too great to bear. You were dealt a really tough hand in life and it’s hard. You’re not smart enough, or rich enough, or thin enough, or aggressive enough, or confident enough to achieve that one big dream you have in the back of your mind. Maybe you didn’t have the best role models growing up, or someone was constantly putting you down until you believed them. Maybe you’re dealing with an illness or physical impairment. There are a million things that can hold us back from reaching our potential. But these million things will only block you from success if you give them permission.

Let’s look at a true story of a young girl that chose not to be a victim. But instead chose to be victorious. Her name is Bethany Hamilton. Born in 1990 on the Island of Kauai in Hawaii, she has been a surfer her entire life. Even at the young age of 8, she was competing in the sport she loved.

On Halloween morning of 2003, at just 13 years of age, Bethany was brutally attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark off the North Coast of Kauai while surfing with friends. Her left arm was severed instantly and she lost over 60% of her blood. Her friends quickly got her ashore and found medical help. Miraculously, she survived the trip to the hospital and was able to avoid infection.

Six days later, Bethany walked out of the hospital. And just one month later, she was back in the water surfing. Her passion for surfing and competing was just too strong. Her dream to surf professionally and do what she loved every day would not fade.

What she received in return for her persistence, drive, passion, and positivity was far more than anything she could dream about.

Did she become a professional surfer?

Let’s put it this way – 3 months after the attack, Bethany entered her first competition and placed 5th. One year later, she snagged 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships – winning her first National Title. Two years later, Bethany turned pro with sponsors and ASP World Tour events.

But that’s not all…

In 2004, Bethany wrote her first of 9 books, an autobiography, entitled Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board”>Soul Surfer. In case you’ve missed the commercials, it’s being made into a major motion picture and will be released on April 8, 2011.

When approaching her father for help in training to become a one-armed professional surfer, he responds, “It’s not going to be easy.” Her response?

“I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

That is not the language of a victim. Those are the words of a young woman that is aware of her situation, but is determined to win anyway. Bethany knows that she’s at a disadvantage. She knows it’s going to be hard. In fact, she even knows that if she gave up surfing and competing and caring, people would understand. They wouldn’t even push her. But what fun is that?

Victim or Victory? It’s your choice. It’s always your choice.

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