I have many proud moments scattered through my life, some that I achieved through my own actions and others that were in spite of the odds stacked against me. So rather than write another pseudo-psychoanalytical post, I thought I would walk through a few of them and remind myself of them before I zero in on one of them.
One moment that is more a series of moments than a singular one is that I played nearly 20 years of competitive volleyball, followed by another 10 years of state level Ultimate. Playing these sports isn’t an achievement as such, but it becomes more so when you understand that I was also born with the congenital deformity called talipes equinovarus, better known as clubfoot.
My case of clubfoot was moderate, meaning I could walk and run but would have got to a point, if untreated, that I would be limited to walking and ultimately a wheelchair. At 5 years of age, my parents booked surgery and I had both of my Achilles’ tendons cut, stretched and stitched. I recall the doctor informing my parents that probably would never run or jump again, but to be happy that at least I would be able to walk. The doctor also stated that I would need surgery again when I was about 40 due to aging shortening my tendons and potentially rupturing.
Well, Mr. Doctor, I not only walked, I sprinted and had a vertical jump that allowed me to hang off a basketball hoop. I still play Ultimate and, due to my legs not being structurally the best, I have worn out my knees. Pain is a small price and something you can learn to ignore, or strengthen your body to reduce. The lesson here is that you can overcome your limitations. It is a choice and one that you have to make each morning before you roll out of bed.
Hmmm, let me think…
I am a voracious reader and have been since I was about 5 years old. I used to chew through about 3 to 4 books a week, primarily within the Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre. As I aged my tastes expanded and I read most things that had some science, historical or factual basis. I am proud that I can read at such a volume and that I can pour out what I have read without much issue.
This sort of leads me to one of my prouder moments in life, achieving certification as a Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP). I had been sent over to Houston (from Australia) to attend an Information Risk Management Conference and to undertake a CISSP boot camp with the ultimate goal of gaining the certification. It was informally communicated to management that I was ‘extremely lucky’ to be sent to the United States and that I’d better not fail the certification.
I headed off to the US and had a blast. The conference was awesome and best of all, I got to play Ultimate. CISSP was a worry that sat at the back of my mind but didn’t rise up too often to concern me. Finishing the conference I turned up for my first day of CISSP boot camp. I am understating when I say that I was absolutely overwhelmed by the content and the amount of learning I had to cram in. Day one and I knew that I may be in too deep and failure might be on the cards.
So like all good students who are faced with study and the potential of failure, I hit the pub. I sat by myself most of the night and alternated between crapping my jocks and listening in on other peoples conversations. About halfway through the evening, 4 beers down, I realised a few things:
- spending my week in the pub drinking would definitely lead me to fail.
- the people around me were unhappy, they were mostly bitching about each other and how they would’ve done things better.
- that I could learn as much as possible, and have a bloody good crack at passing.
Naturally I sat there and finished a few more beers because realisation needs to sink in, and I was enjoying my beers.
Long story short, during the day I worked my arse off in class and at night I drank beers. Oh, I studied too! I read, wrote, copied and recited. Do you know how hard it is to learn something when you are on the edge of drunk? Don’t answer that, just go and try it one day.
The exam was roughly 4 hours, I achieved the pass mark of 80% (it may be higher, can’t honestly recall) and I went to sleep that night proud.
Indirectly my management helped me through giving me the ‘pass or else’ message and to a larger extent the people in the bar. Each night the same ones would come in and bitch about their lives and how ‘if only things were different’. I was faced with a choice and I chose to work hard to achieve a goal.
One of my proudest moments.