It really is a matter of determination
In the short period I have been hosting this site I've had several emails from people asking how I have
managed to rise to a senior position in my profession. It's not so unusual. Franklin D Roosevelt had polio
and he became President of the United States - now you can't rise much higher than that. Well, I may
never be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, or win a Nobel Prize in Economics, but short of that,
there is nothing the matter with my intelligence - it's my legs that are disabled, not my mind.
These sort of questions from other disabled people are generally raised because, even in this civilised day
and age, the general public simply does not accept that the contributions that we disabled offer are as
valuable as those of anyone else. In this context, however, disabled people generally don't do themselves
any justice. They don't project themselves as being perfectly able -- able to take on tasks identical to those
of anyone else, and perform them just as well, if not better.
The fact that I was able to obtain a good education and to rise to the level that I have professionally were
both largely a result of my determination, a trait that has been my greatest asset. The most prominent
driving forces propelling my determination have been the many Cassandras (including my own parents)
who relentlessly told me that I would be dependent on others for the rest of my life. Perhaps my parents
knew the workings of my mind rather better than I imagined - maybe they purposely tricked me into
getting motivated... If they did, they won't admit it. However, my friends will tell you that the most
reliable means of convincing me to take on a task is to suggest that it's impossible. And that, I suppose, is
how it has been since my early school days.
You, as a disabled person, do not have to sit back and be thankful that a condescending employer has
offered you a mundane position when all along you know perfectly well that you are capable of taking on
more responsibility. It's ludicrous that this sort of situation still exists - but we all know that it does.
Unfortunately it's all up to you.
When I took on my very first job, I knew all along that it was a grace and favour offering. The truth is
that my employer felt sorry for me - he actually thought that no other company would spare me the time
of day. Undoubtedly, I was most grateful, but even so, it was only through my own inquisitiveness that I
gained some valuable experience - the opportunity to build on my resources was not made abundantly
evident . Actually, this job was not such a mundane one, but I do believe that had I not been disabled I
would have been given the opportunity to take on far more responsibility.
It was all very comfortable and certainly convenient, but I knew that given the chance I would be capable
of contributing far more - however, it wasn't going to happen there.
I searched newspapers and professional journals, but it was in the Daily Telegraph that I came across an
advertisement that really took my fancy. The job was in London, but I was aware that if I was going to
progress I would have to be prepared to move away from my cosy little environment. I sent for the
application form, duly returned it - explaining my situation, but prominently pointing out my capabilities -
and surprise, surprise, I was offered an interview.
Prior to the actual interview I had agreed to undergo a one-to-one 'informal chat'. This, it turned out,
was so that my prospective employer could have a reasonable understanding of the extent of my disability
and my mobility capabilities. After this the interview panel never once mentioned disability, directing
their attention only towards my qualifications for doing the job - from that moment I knew that my
chances of success were equal to those of anyone else.
A few days later I gave my employer one month's notice
If I can do it, so can others.