Hard to forget the accident that 17 year old Billy Monger had at Donnington racetrack in April 2017 that resulted in the lower part of both of his legs being amputated. It was one of those ‘racing’ accidents that are always a risk for those engaged in dangerous sports.
The response from the public was incredible
A JustGiving page was set up by his team to raise money for him. The fund was in excess of £500,000 in the first 24 hours. A number of F1 drivers also showed their support, including Jensen Button, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Nico Hülkenberg. This was largely driven by public empathy for a young person with a big dream suffering a massive physical set back. Most people would recognise that it would be a huge challenge for a 17-year old to come back from.
The dream lives on
Faced with a life changing situation like this, most people would probably give up.
However, in June 2017 it was announced that Billy hoped to return to competition and various plans to race with other disabled drivers were suggested. Billy made his return to the track in July 2017 (only 3 months after his accident) when he drove a specially adapted vehicle at Brands Hatch.
At the time, Billy commented that he had been able to return to the sport he loved because:
Hard work pays off. Still a long way to go but making progress every day..
The dream remains the same
There are two types of goal, Distal goals and Proximal goals. Distal goals are objectives that take time to attain and are likely to involve effort over time to achieve something worthwhile, such as qualifying as a Doctor (long term vision). Proximal goals on the other hand are objectives that are attainable in a fairly short time (short term goals).
Research shows that people are more likely to persist and achieve distal goals if they are connected with proximal goals. In other words, the best way to achieve your long term goals is via achieving a series of short term sensible goals with the ultimate vision in mind. Common sense, but how many people actually do this?
For Billy there was no change in his distal goal (or dream) to race – as he commented:
“The dream remains the same”
However to get there, he had to progress through a whole series of proximal goals, for example involving having prosthetics and re-learning how to walk and drive again.
How is he getting on?
When you see him slide his Jaguar sideways to ‘park’ it next to a line of cars, you can clearly see that his accident was not going to get in the way of his dream. Since then he has returned to racing in Formula 3, driven specially adapted Formula 1 cars and is now a well known commentator and TV personality. This journey was not without challenge because the FIA who regulate motor racing had rules in place restricting disabled drivers from single seat racing cars on safety grounds. His family achieved another proximal goal by having these regulations changed.
Distal –v- Proximal
As you can see, both proximal (small) and distal goals (vision) are important. Distal goals on their own can be too challenging resulting in people giving up trying to achieve their dreams. Proximal goals on their own don’t take you in any specific direction, you need both.
Setting small goals enables you to make progress towards a bigger vision. Progress is important as it motivates you to work harder towards your ultimate goal or goals. They are also important in that they also enable flexibility.
For example, you may have a goal that you want to visit every country in Europe. What happens when you visit a number of them and then get tired of travelling? Do you carry on knowing that the goal is no longer motivating?
A small goal that you’ll visit one or two European countries a year is more achievable and allows you to change your ultimate goal if you find it is no longer relevant to what you want to do in life, based on lived experience.
What about YOUR determination?
Most of us don’t have to deal with the sorts of seismic life changing events that faced Billy. However he is a real exemplar of how you can achieve a seemingly impossible goals through achieving lots of smaller ones that build toward them. It would have been easy for Billy to look at the vision of racing again as unachievable, had he not had the shorter term goals of walking, driving and then racing.
What are you determined to succeed at? When you compare yourself to Billy, who had significant life changing injuries, has your dream “remained the same”? Billy gives us a benchmark for determination and wanting to succeed “no matter what”.
One way of putting this into stark perspective is to ask yourself about your eulogy. Do you really want people to say “had nice ideas, just lacked the ambition to do them?”. The choice is yours. If you want to volunteer, build a business, start a charity, get promoted, be Chief Executive, or whatever you have to ask yourself if you are putting enough effort into it. Christmas is a good time for taking stock and asking yourself if life is headed where you want it to. If you have a vision, but are not getting there, do you have the right short term goals. If you don’t have a vision, is it time you fixed that and started achieving the small goals that will take you there?
If you aren’t focusing on your goals and dreams enough, it is never too late to start. I am sure that whatever ‘disasters’ you encounter along the way, they are unlikely to be as life changing as they were for Billy. Even that didn’t put him off. So, what is your excuse?
From me – a heartfelt “Go Billy!”… a fantastic example of what you can do when you are passionate about achieving your dreams irrespective of the challenges life puts in your path.
Isn’t it time to #startsomething or #changesomething? If you need some help to figure out a path to realising your ambitions in life, why not get in touch?