As an immigrant from Vietnam, I learned that obstacles are here to encourage you to DIG DEEP. I grew up in a small house with 3 bedrooms and only 1 bathroom…for 10 family members! Every morning was traffic jam to navigate through with 3 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 parents, and 2 nephews. All getting ready for work and school…with ONE bathroom.

While my family was financially poor, I felt rich because my parents had the capacity to “dig deep,” to show compassion and to serve others in need. I remember my parents met an elderly man at the doctor’s office who didn’t have a place to sleep, so they invited him into our home. I thought he would stay for one night or a week at most, but this man lived with us for more than 10 years! Add one more to the morning traffic jam.

Watching my parents’ struggle motivated me to work hard, apply my abilities and dig deep at every challenge. In high school, I graduated with honors, attended college and later graduate school. I climbed the corporate ladder at several global companies and earned six figures in my early 30s…and then, in a matter of seconds, my life… changed.

While on a business trip, an auto accident nearly ended my life. I was a passenger in the car that crashed into a concrete embankment at 50 miles per hour. The impact damaged my spinal cord. I was paralyzed from the neck down.

I remember smelling toxic fumes from the burning oil and gas. I looked down to move my legs—but no matter how hard I tried, nothing moved. Shocked and afraid, I closed my eyes and asked, if my Divine Beings help me walk again, I promised to live a more purposeful life.

After 8 hours of surgery, the neurosurgeon fused 4 vertebras in my neck, and I was transferred to a rehab center in San Antonio, TX.

Looking out the window from my bed, for the first time in my life, I felt incredibly alone. I could not walk. I couldn’t move my body. I couldn’t put on my socks or shoes, take a shower or perform basic functions. It was then that I realized I had two choices – limp along through life or DIG DEEP and find my inner strength.

In rehab, I exercised 8-10 hours a day. If I was asked to do 10 leg lifts, I did 100. If I was asked to do 20 sit-ups, I did 200. I did core, arms, legs, upper and lower body exercises with the same determination.

My neurosurgeon said, most people stabilize in 3 months. I was stable enough to board a plane in 3 weeks.

My neurosurgeon said it would take 3 years for full recovery. I dug deep. I learned how to walk again – first with a walker, then a cane and finally with walking sticks. In 2 months, I hiked 2 miles. In 3 months, I went back to work. After 5 months at work, I completed a multi-million-dollar project and won awards.

Today, I am living my dream, supporting non-profits as the CEO of a start-up company. I’m also a consultant, teacher, aspiring author, and public speaker – thanks to Toastmasters.

I am living proof, that obstacles are here to guide you. If you DIG DEEP, you can create the life you want to live, regardless of where you started from.

Dig Deep

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About The Author
- Daniel is the Executive Producer and web developer of Founder's District TV. He has been a member of Toastmasters Founder's District since 2005 and is now serving as the Club Growth Director for 2015-2016.