Fuel Your Own Inspiration – #PledgeUp in 2015

By Brian Smith

‘Everything you guys do is so inspiring.’

I get a little frustrated every time I hear that.

It’s the message I’ve heard over and over as I talk to people about No Barriers through my work as the Storytelling Coordinator.

The sentiment implies there’s a sense of a “you guys” and then “everyone else.” That those who aren’t in our Youth, Summit or Soldiers programs can’t inspire others. It’s as if admirers can’t participate.

And that word – inspiring – how I wish it was instead “energizing” or “motivating.” How I wish that everyone who sees our work would see equally the barriers in their lives and harness that inspirational spark.

On a recent phone call last week, someone said, “Whatever I can do to support No Barriers, I’m in.”

“Awesome. Have you taken the Pledge?” I asked.

“The what?” she replied.

Cue our conversation about how to achieve the No Barriers life.

It’s the idea that you can take home, the mindset we focus on in our programs, even after the program ends. But we don’t necessarily need a program to find the mindset. And we don’t need to fit into the Summit, Youth or Soldiers boxes to live a No Barriers life.

Let me put it to you this way: I’ve come to think about our work like an auto mechanic’s shop. People are drawn to No Barriers because, whether we consciously know it or not, we all want to improve.

Maybe we can hear our brake pads loudly squeaking, or maybe we just feel the steering wheel pulling a little to the right. Maybe we’re scheduled for that once-a-decade transmission overhaul, or just an oil change.

But no matter the model, miles or mishap, the toolkit that comes with a No Barriers mindset is essential to getting back on the right road. Or continuing the path you’re on.

The best tool we have in our shop is the Pledge — it’s our tire iron, our Allen wrench and our arc welder.

When you leave the shop, you can reach new physical, mental or emotional destinations. But unlike mechanics, we don’t charge for this service, this Pledge of ours. In fact, you can take it with you.

But how do we get people in the shop in the first place? Our lives are so hectic. Demands for our attention are never ending. And how can we compete with the long lines of “quick fixes” that promise a better life for just those three easy payments?

As Americans, we come wired to take a look under the hood around the New Year. When the ball drops and the champagne cork pops, the service engine light comes on.

Some of us respond with a New Year’s Resolution. Well, actually only about one-fourth of us make it and just eight out of 100 keep it.

That’s because there’s no real commitment statement, no community, no hub of inspiration and often no finish line moment. We want to overhaul it — we’re thinking full muscle car.

We want to put gasoline and gears into that inspiration. The Pledge is the commitment statement you need and No Barriers is the inspirational community that wants you to keep going.

That’s why each of us on the No Barriers staff is taking the pledge this year. We’re in this together. Join us. Put the rubber to the road and take the pledge in 2015 to overcome something in your way.  Find a little inspiration in the audio clips below.

Take the No Barriers Pledge and  join our community striving for something more. While you’re at it share your pledges, photos and stories on Facebook and Twitter using #PledgeUp.

#PledgeUp in 2015!