Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Can’t do it? Tell me what you CAN do

I don’t want to hear your excuses.

Don’t tell me your life is difficult. Don’t tell me you’re too busy to innovate, or learn something new, or become future-ready. Don’t you dare tell me that doing all of this new stuff is too hard.

You don’t know what hard is.

If you’re willing to listen, though, Brad Snyder will tell you.

Snyder is a Navy veteran and a member of the Navy’s elite bomb disposal squad. He was permanently blinded in 2011 when an improvised explosive device (or IED) exploded while he was working on it in Afghanistan.

He went to Afghanistan to serve his country, and he came back blind. Want to know what he’s done since then?

  • He won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle swimming competition at the 2012 Paralympics in London.
  • He became a leading veterans’ advocate through his work with the COMMIT Foundation, which helps veterans transition successfully back into civilian life.
  • He has become an inspirational speaker who offers advice on overcoming adversity to anyone who will listen.

Snyder will tell that story as part of the MACPA’s annual Innovation Summit, slated for June 16 in Baltimore.

His most important message? This is about what you can do, not what you can’t.

“From early on,” Snyder said, “my family and I strategically put an emphasis on these questions: ‘What does the way forward look like? How do I do all the things I used to do, and how do I make things as normal as possible?’ If you put all of your eggs in that basket, you forget about the fact that you can’t see and you remember that you can still hear, and run, and swim. You fill up the time with the things you can do, and you don’t really have time left to think about the things you can’t do. I’ve done that long enough now that I don’t even feel blind. I feel that this is just the way life is now.”

Put another way: We’re so uptight about the negatives that we completely miss the positives.

  • Maybe we don’t have time to master every social network … but we might have time to master one of them.
  • Maybe we’re too busy to regroup and do truly innovative, groundbreaking work … but we might be able to pause long enough to ask a few future-focused questions that will lead to meaningful change for our organizations.
  • Maybe we’re overloaded with information … but we might be able to learn how to use a couple of powerful tools that will filter that information and let us focus on just the valuable stuff.

“It’s all about perspective,” Snyder said. “Every situation, every person, every entity, every set of circumstances you find yourself in — if you look for the good in those circumstances, you’ll find it. You have to make that deliberate choice: I am going to find the good in people and my own circumstances. If you make a habit of doing that, you will empower yourself to be successful.”

Do that long enough and you’ll forget that you’re blind — especially if you’re wearing a gold medal around your neck.

Listen to my interview with Snyder in its entirety, then make a pledge to hear more of Snyder’s inspiring message at the MACPA’s Innovation Summit, scheduled for June 16 in Baltimore. Get details and register here.


Bill Sheridan