7 Life Lessons - From a successful businessman who can move nothing but his face
Jon Morrow was born with Type I SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), a form of muscular dystrophy where the motor neurons controlling voluntary movement are progressively lost. Doctors predicted that he would die by the age of two. He survived, but by his 20s the only part of his body he could control was his face. Unemployed, unable to pay his costly medical bills, and living off welfare, he was facing a bleak future of slowly withering away in a nursing home.
Jon Morrow didn’t let that happen—today he is living the life of his dreams. Using speech recognition technology, Jon applied his talent of writing to become a successful businessman. He has created several online magazines read by over 5 million people, written a best-selling book turning him into a multi-millionaire, while allowing him to travel and live in exotic places. Jon has accomplished more than most people even dream of doing in a lifetime. How has he been able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he’s faced?
According to him, it’s by having the courage to use his brain and learn to play the game.
Here are the 7 Biggest Life Lessons Jon has learned and sees as the tools for his success and survival:
1. If You Can’t Win the Game, Change the Rules
A decade ago Jon depended on Medicaid to pay for $120,000 in medical expenses. However the rules of Medicaid said that if he made over $700 a month, all of his medical coverage would be stripped away. So Jon, a talented and educated man, was stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation without a job and living in poverty. Don’t like the options given to you? Create new ones. Jon eventually decided to play by his own rules, instead of the government’s. He took an unpaid job with a magazine in return for help to start his business, and he left the US healthcare system entirely by moving to Mexico.
2. Pain is Power
“The degree of success you achieve in life is directly proportional to the amount of pain you can tolerate.” Conditioning ourselves to endure the difficulties of life makes us stronger people, ready to take on the inevitable pain that the pursuit of our dreams will bring.
3. The Secret to Survival
It’s one thing to experience pain, but learning to accept pain is the only way we can move forward from it. In 2006, Jon was in a terrible car accident which left him with a broken lower torso and $130,000 in medical bills. Instead of focusing on self-pity, he focused on changing his situation and fighting the insurance companies to cover his expenses. And he won.
4. The Art of the Counterpunch
“The next time life punches you in the face, stop for a moment and ask yourself this simple question: What’s the counterpunch?” For Jon, his counterpunch towards his time in rehab after the accident was building his career during his free time. There is always a way to turn a blow in life to your advantage – the challenge is overcoming our emotions to spot that silver lining and chase it.
5. How to Find the Courage to Face Anything
Moving to Mexico was no walk in the park for Jon. It was scary and insane but dying alone in a nursing home was scarier. To Jon, he felt he had no other choice. Having courage doesn’t mean being fearless – its harnessing the fear of what will happen if you don’t act.
6. Embrace the Crazy
We’re so used to be told to “be reasonable” that it becomes easy to evaluate only the safe options in a sticky situation, even if there are better, “crazier” ones out there. While Jon is fine with the standard treatment for now, he is not adverse to riskier procedure if things get worse.
7. Never, Never, Never, Give Up
When Jon was young, he caught pneumonia—a near death sentence for someone with his disease. His mother had to push on his ribs hundreds of times a day, up to and past the point of breaking them to clear the mucus from his lungs. Otherwise, he would die. He begged his mother when she did this to stop, but she told him to never give up. Because of his mother’s determination, Jon survived. There will come a point in everyone’s life where your trials will feel like too much and all hope is lost. But it is certainly not.
“The greatest victories are won by the weakest people, living in the darkest times, facing monsters that make even the stoutest heroes cower and run. And yet they prevail. Not through riches or genius or even luck, but by setting their jaw, bracing their feet, and weathering the storm. They don’t defeat misfortune; they outlast it, clinging stubbornly to their spot, absorbing blow after blow, roaring their defiance into the wind until their lips crack and their voice breaks, and yet still they find the strength to whisper, “I will never, ever give up.”