An excerpt from Golf Positive Live Positive! by Debbie O’Connell
Getting over or through obstacles in life requires focusing on the target and what’s possible with a positive attitude. I once had the opportunity to meet an extraordinary person who has had to overcome tremendous obstacles from birth. Tatyana McFadden was born with a disease called spina bifida, which is a hole in the spine. Tatyana is paralyzed from the waist down. She spent the first six-and-a-half years of her life in an orphanage in Russia, without access to a wheelchair. Tatyana had some big obstacles. She did not see it that way. She wanted to keep up with the other children and play, so she figured out a way. Tatyana learned to walk on her hands. She did not accept a limiting belief that she could not play because she could not walk. When there is a will, there is a way, and Tatyana found a way.
Tatyana was adopted in 1994 by an American woman, Deborah McFadden, who was then the commissioner of disabilities for what is now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although Tatyana had an exciting new life and more opportunities, her health got worse. Her family was even told that she might only live a couple more years. To gain strength with the hopes of improving her health, Deborah enrolled Tatyana in various sports programs, including wheelchair basketball, swimming, ice hockey, and scuba diving. She found her passion—wheelchair racing. Her health improved drastically, and she became an incredibly strong world-class athlete. Tatyana always rose higher than any challenge that life presented her.
She made her debut in the 2004 Paralympics when she was just fifteen years old; she was the youngest person on the US Team. Tatyana won two medals in 2004. In 2008, she brought home four medals. In 2012, she added another four medals to her collection, three of which were gold. At the 2013 World Championships, she became the first athlete in history to win six gold medals at the same competition. Tatyana brought home four more gold and two silver medals from the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Always up for a challenge, Tatyana joined the professional marathon circuit. She has won the Boston, Chicago, London, and New York marathons. She is the first person, able bodied or disabled, to win the grand slam—four major world marathons in the same year. In 2016 she completed her fourth straight Grand Slam! She also competes in the winter Paralympics in cross-country skiing, winning a silver medal in 2014.
Tatyana’s drive is inspiring. Her vision of the world is always about what is possible. I love the quote that reads, “Nothing is impossible…the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’” Tatyana McFadden understands the challenge in front of her and then finds a way to rise above it.
Sometimes your obstacle is bumper-to-bumper traffic and the only way to get to your destination is to go through it. Instead of thinking about the traffic and getting frustrated, focus on what you can do with that time. Whom can you call? What appointment can you make? Can you record some notes about a project or a goal you’re working on? Think about your best golf game and all of the awesome shots you have played. Make the most of your time. After all, time is precious. Use it wisely.
Make your golf game and life even better by reading Golf Positive! Live Positive!