The No Barriers Mindset

By Kindred Healthcare
The No Barriers MindsetErik Weihenmayer lost his vision at the age of 13, but hasn’t let that disability stop him from achieving a “no barriers life.” Through his nonprofit organization No Barriers, Erik helps others to meet exceptionally challenging goals. Recently, the organization helped a quadriplegic man reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, making him the first quadruple amputee to do so. The organization’s website gives more information on the program and its outreach.

Weihenmayer gave the final presentation at this year’s Kindred Clinical Impact Symposium, providing motivational words to the group before they headed on their way, back home and to their facilities, to put the “impact” in “Clinical Impact Symposium.”

According to Weihenmayer, people can be described as either campers or climbers.

Campers, he said, tend to run into barrier after barrier, getting shoved to sidelines, where they camp out and their life force or energy is lost to the world.

Climbers, more rare, figure out a way to continue to challenge themselves to continue to grow every day until the day they die.

“My journey was a literally journey,” Weihenmayer said, describing the mountain peaks he quested to climb, known as the Seven Summits.

What’s been more important than any one goal has been a vision, Weihenmayer said. We need to consider what kind of legacy we want to leave behind us.

“We become focused on these long lists of goals,” he said. “Maybe they spin out of control. What we need to continually reconnect with is that unifying vision.”

In order to connect his words to his audience’s experiences, Weihenmayer suggested that their vision might be to serve their patients.

“To truly serve them,” he said, “how do you align your goals to bring you closer to that vision?”

Weihenmayer shared many stories of challenges undertaken – both personal achievements and stories of facilitating the challenges of others – as examples of living life with a no barriers mindset. The most torturous aspect of life, he said, is taking on that pioneering aspect of life, reaching out, trying to climb higher than ever done before, and thus bringing adversity into our lives.

“It’s like we’re asking for it,” he said, making a connection between the extent of our reach and the amount of adversity we bring.

Identifying the barriers around us, from the small ones to the ones that can crush us, is an important step toward squaring off against adversity and walking into the storm.

Teams are crucial. And a team you can trust, is even more critical.

“Linking ourselves with great people is the best chance we have,” he said.

Weihenmayer closed with some especially inspirational words.

“Now is the time to be a pioneer, to build a great rope team around us, to turn lead into gold,” he said. “We climb as a celebration of this wondrous world that we live in.”