“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.” — Vince Lombardi

Who is Tammy Duckworth?

Tammy Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand.

According to The New York Times, Duckworth and her family had a meager life in Hawaii, living in a “low-rent hotel in Waikiki with the financial help of a 90-year-old woman who volunteered at the local American Legion, making do with food stamps, school lunches and her odd jobs.” Duckworth helped support her family by selling flowers on the side of a road in Honolulu.

After college, Duckworth joined the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps as a graduate student at George Washington University in 1990. She became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve in 1992 and chose to fly helicopters because it was one of the few combat jobs open to women.

She was deployed to serve in the Iraq War in 2004 and lost both of her legs and the ability to use her right arm when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Despite these circumstances, she was determined to move forward with her life and have an impact on changing the world.

Duckworth became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2006, and three years later President Barack Obama appointed her Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In her new role, Duckworth focused largely on putting a stop to the cycle of homeless veterans. She also developed resources especially tailored to the unique needs of female veterans.

In 2012, she was elected to Congress, representing Illinois’ 8th District. Four years later, she was elected a U.S. Senator, thereby becoming the first disabled woman and the second Asian American woman in the Senate.

And, by the way, Vice President Joe Biden has Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois to be on his short list to be his Vice President.

The definition of “determination” is having a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you.

As we are go through life you have likely heard “no” more than “yes,” “you can’t” more than “you can,” and “it will never happen” more than “it is possible it could happen.” (I know I certainly have). But if we make up our minds we can achieve anything, regardless of what the critics say.

As many of you know, Dr. Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning describes his experiences as a psychiatrist who barely survived the World War II concentration camps. Frankl tried to understand what was it that caused some men and women to suffer and survive through unspeakable horrors while other men and women gave up and often tried to kill themselves to end their suffering. He came to the conclusion that the difference was whether or not they had a reason why to survive. For example, those that believed they had someone waiting for them back home developed superhuman determination to survive.

“Sometimes it takes dealing with a disability — the trauma, the relearning, the months of rehabilitation therapy — to uncover our true abilities and how we can put them to work for us in ways we may have never imagined.” — Tammy Duckworth

Whether or not you have a disability, you can become determined. If you don’t see how, have a session with a professional — that can help most anybody get to a place where they are completely determined to overcome challenges and attain their goals. You can achieve success with the right particulars so know it is not just a special few who have innate determination; it can be learned.

Put your abilities to work for you and you will have a limitless future.

Have a powerful week!

Craig P. Stone

CEO, Entrepreneur, Founder of 6 Companies, Performance Coach, Advisor, Mentor: Pursued my passion as an serial Entrepreneur and never looked back