Jeremy McGhee was 25 when he was hit by a car in 2001, while riding his motorbike to run errands a few blocks from home.
“I remember everything about the accident,” he says. “I worked in trauma [as a lifeguard] so I was sort of self-assessing as it was happening. I couldn’t feel my legs so I knew I’d broken my back, and I could feel my face and arms slowly going cold so I knew I was losingblood from somewhere.”
Two paramedics happened to be in a taco shop across the street and raced out to, quite literally, save his life. “They prepped me for surgery in the ambulance and in 20 minutes I was being operated on,” he says. “When I woke up, the first thing the doctor said, before he went through any of my injuries, was to make no mistake, if those paramedics hadn’t been across the street I wouldn’t be here. From that first moment, I was grateful. Grateful to just be alive.”
Jeremy’s injuries meant that he was now paralysed from the waist down, but six weeks later, the avid adventurer was out of hospital and on the ski slopes.
His I-won’t-be-stopped attitude is his coping mechanism and he made a conscious decision of how he wanted to live. He admits that his head visits some dark places, but he chooses to overcome it every day. “The glass isn’t half full or half empty,” he writes on his website. “It just is. It’s what you do with it that matters. I choose living because the alternative sucks.”
After meeting Jeremy at a recent conference for Aussie sportswear brand 2XU, we wanted to share his inspirational philosophy. In 2012, he became the first paraplegic to climb and descend a major backcountry ski route (Bloody Couloir in the US, for which he had to do pull-ups over 900-metre drops on the way).
This is a man who knows more about overcoming obstacles than most. He shares his story in the hope of motivating others to take an honest look at themselves because, “the biggest adventure we can go on is within. I don’t have some grand secret for you – you know everything you need to know already. It’s just a matter of learning to listen to yourself.”
Jeremy shares his top tips for dealing with the challenges life can deliver
Your heart is a deep, dark well and it’s absolutely trainable to do whatever you want it to. I’ve taught myself to ignore the voice inside myhead that says I can’t do it. You can, too.
- If you’re having trouble getting motivated, you need to tap into your motivator and push through it. My motivator is anger; there are days when I’m tired of the struggle of living in a wheelchair. I want to be on the beach running but I’m stuck in a gym as that’s my only option, so I tap into that anger. You have to find your motivator. Fear is a strong one. Hope and thankfulness are stronger ones.
- Don’t be afraid of the dark places in your mind that you shy away from. Whether you push through them or not is related to the question, how uncomfortable am I willing to get?
- The left side of your brain’s biology is to protect you. You know: that’s hot, don’t touch it; I can’t do that, it might hurt. You’ve got to learn not to listen to that negative voice that says you can’t deal with discomfort. You can. You can switch that voice off and push forward. Switch gears and focus on the positive motivators in your life. The positive motivator always comes. That feeling of euphoria will kick in when you’re achieving something, even if it’s small.
- Our propensity is for laziness but you’ll always feel better about yourself after exercising. Get outdoors with a friend as that will make you accountable.
- When times are tough, do the things that make you “you”. For me, it’ssurfing or being on the snow. Doing [that] is a powerful coping mechanism.