Key Lesson: Limitations are often things we place on ourselves — and sometimes you just have to blow through them.
In many ways, Amy Purdy exemplifies what we at Healthy Companies call Grounded Leadership. Her generous spirit, her emotional and physical resilience, her drive to succeed and her dedication to personal mastery are among the things we admire most about Amy. But it’s her adaptive mindset that really impresses us.
When Amy was 19, she contracted bacterial meningitis and, as a result, lost both of her legs below the knee. She also lost her spleen, her kidneys and the hearing in her left ear. She tells the story of her illness and remarkable recovery in this recent TED Talk and in her memoir On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life. Amy admits to being “physically and emotionally broken” but also knew “that in order to move forward, I had to let go of the old Amy and learn to embrace the new Amy…that is when a new chapter in my life began.” She went on to become the world’s highest-ranking adaptive female snowboarder, and a finalist on Dancing with the Stars. But Amy’s adaptability goes beyond rising to the physical challenges of being a double amputee. She has also adapted intellectually and believes that our minds can be “tools for breaking through” perceived barriers: “It’s not about breaking down borders. It’s about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us…It’s fulfilling to me to blow through limitations that you thought you had.”
These days Amy is helping others blow through their own limitations. She and her life partner Daniel Gale founded Adaptive Action Sports to create opportunities for people with physical challenges to get involved in all kinds of action sports. Says Amy: “I love the positive influence our organization has on others and the exciting way in which it does. I can’t wait to see the future of ‘adaptive’ sports especially in the action sports arena. These athletes are truly role models and inspirations to us all.”
Amy Purdy is our Grounded Leader of the Week for her ability to confidently adapt to new realities — both physically and mentally — and for sharing her inspiration so generously with others.