She was 4 years old and wanted to climb the slide on the school playground. She was jealous of the other kids her own age having so much fun on the slide.
And today, she was determined to climb it.
She looked around to make sure no one was paying attention — and then she made her move.
She was up on the third step when a teacher came rushing towards her: “How many times do we have to tell you, young lady? The slide is not for you. It’s too dangerous.”
“Go play someplace else!”
In frustration, Jessica sat on a swing, imagining herself flying like a bird in the sky.
She just wanted to be treated like all the normal kids.
“IT’S ONLY HUMAN TO HAVE LOW MOMENTS IN LIFE BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T, THEN YOU WON’T FEEL THE HIGH, EXCITING TIMES.”
For Jessica, it seemed like she had only ever experienced low moments. It started from the moment she was born.
William Cox felt like he was going to faint. His wife, Inez, gave a last anguished push with a loud groan and red face.
A few seconds later, they both heard the loud shrieking of a baby crying. They both sighed with genuine relief.
Their little baby was breathing deeply in and out.
In…. And…. Out……… In…. And…. Out………
Inez was startled when she caught the shocked expression on her husband’s face. He was worried.
And now she was too.
All she could see from the bed were the backs of the medical team attending to her newborn baby.
What was going on?
William saw how devastated his wife looked when the nurse handed baby Jessica to her.
“She must be shocked as I am.”
He kissed her forehead and told her that everything would be alright.
Due to a rare birth defect, Jessica Cox was born without arms.
Her parents knew that she would go through a lot of physical and emotional challenges in life. And they decided not to coddle her — enrolling her in a public school asking for no special accommodations whatsoever.
And Jessica learned how to be tough:
“HANDICAPS ARE MINDSETS. WHATEVER IT IS THAT STANDS IN THE WAY OF ACHIEVING SOMETHING, THAT’S WHEN IT’S A HANDICAP. I PREFER TO SEE THEM AS OBSTACLES OR CHALLENGES. THIS IS HOW I’VE BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE. I DON’T KNOW ANY DIFFERENT. I JUST LIVE MY LIFE THROUGH MY FEET.”
And she was good at it.
As a child, she learned to use her legs as her hands. She even taught herself to type 25 words per minute with her toes.
The prosthetic arms she was given were an inconvenience to her. They were heavy and uncomfortable — and maddenly hot in the Arizona summers.
She decided that she can do without them. At 14, she did just that.
It made her realize that she was only trying to cover up her birth defect. To hide. To pretend like she was normal.
The moment she dropped her fake limbs, she could feel her confidence growing.
There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.
She participated in high school sports and other school activities — even a beauty pageant. It took her time, but she even earned a black belt in Taekwondo
Her mother was always there cheering for her.
Jessica left high school to study at the University of Arizona. And she hit the ground running.
She launched a brand new set of classes for the American Taekwondo Association — for other special needs students.
The years flew by and soon she found herself graduating with honors with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in communications.
She set out to use everything she had learned in her life to inspire others. That started with her launching a motivational speaking business.
That soon led to her speaking in more than 20 countries.
But Jessica did not want to stop there. Not yet, at least. She wanted to overcome her greatest fear — flying.
She flew in an airplane for the first time in 2005 — it was a tiny single-engine “puddle jumper”. And it was terrifying.
But flying in the plane wasn’t good enough. She was determined to fly the plane.
It took 3 years of hard work. But she earned her progress. Every step of the way.
On October 10, 2008, she became a certified pilot, qualified to fly light-sport aircraft — the first woman to fly an airplane with her feet.
And she kept pushing limits.
Jessica completed a 40-mile segment of El Tour de Tucson, one of the largest road bicycling events in the United States. Soon after, she published a book, called Disarm Your Limits and was documented in a film called Right Footed.
She was warming up for a Taekwondo lesson when she noticed someone staring at her.
Jessica felt awkward. Then annoyed and embarrassed: “Don’t you have anything else to do?”
She soon found out the guy staring at her was actually their new instructor, Patric Chamberlain.
At her next Taekwondo class, Patric set up a match with his students one-by-one — to test their skills.
When Jessica got into the ring, Patric reassured her: “I’ll go easy on you.”
More than a little bit annoyed, she gave Patric a huge kick to the belly — pushing him off balance and scoring a point. He didn’t expect it and was impressed by how powerful she was.
The attraction between the two turned into a full-blown romance.
A year later, Patric proposed to Jessica with a golden anklet. And in May 2012, they got married. Living happily ever after.
She had every reason to make excuses. And with good reason. She was missing both hands and arms.
But she never took that path. She always chose the path of greatness — putting in the massive effort required to achieve progress.
Think about the silly excuses that stop you from trying something amazing.
Whether you are training for the Olympics, working to land a new promotion, or tackling personal life challenges there are few ways to train yourself to stop making excuses:
- Be grateful. There is something eye-opening about saying “Thank You” often. You teach yourself the art of empathy.
- Take accountability for any failure, no matter how small. You’ll start learning how powerful you are to change your future.
- Ask yourself “What could I have done better” and then do it better next time. You’ll be more aware of your ability to achieve at a higher level.
- Write out a list of tasks you want to accomplish each day. You’ll stop forgetting small (but important) things and start being more efficient.
- Apologize when you make a mistake. You’ll stop shifting blame and start taking responsibility for your actions. That means progress.
Stop wasting your time making excuses and train yourself to look for ways to make you a superstar. That’s a better use of your creativity.
Disarm your excuses with a plan to push your limits.