How do you celebrate your imperfections?

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Kevin Burkart is one of two one-armed skydivers in the world. He raised over $120,000 for Parkinson’s disease last week.

If you ever wonder what it’s like to live generously with a disability, meet my friend Kevin Burkart.  He’s a self-described adrenaline junky who nearly lost his life in a dramatic snowmobile accident.  He survived, but totally lost the use of his left arm.  So how did he celebrate?

Last week Kevin Burkart  jumped out of an airplane continuing, his quest as a Skydiving fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease. He jumped 151 times in one day: a world record for one-armed skydivers. See the video of his first one-armed skydive here.

He’s no stranger to this kind of adventure: Kevin is a certified Scuba, Snowboard, Barefoot Water Skiing and Skydiving instructor. In 2008, he jumped out of an airplane 100 times in one day to raise money for Parkinson’s disease — in 2010, he completed 150 “perfect” skydives for the same cause. His motivation comes from his father’s own battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

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Kevin Burkart is a courageous fundraiser and an amazingly gifted athlete. His adaptive skydiving technique made the 151 jumps look easy.

But in 2012, in the process of planning for 300 Perfect Jumps, he found himself recovering from the permanent loss of the use of his left arm. That’s what makes his skydiving today so special — he could have retreated in a bitter pity party. He explains:

“Leadership is often doing things others say you cannot do. Sometimes that may include risk, serious risk. And if you’re ok with it, boldly go. Don’t let others change your DNA. No one knew what was going to happen skydiving with one arm. It’s not something you can practice. You need to just go do it. I had ideas, many stood in the way, arguing it was a bad idea. Adding a stirrup to steer with my feet? Death on a stick some said. Maybe. But I wanted to try it. Where would we be with adaptive athletics if those of us with different abilities didn’t push the envelope?”

Good leaders make a habit of embracing our flaws.  And we celebrate life by generously giving our time and talents for the benefit of others.

Like all of us, Kevin is brilliantly imperfect: what are you doing to celebrate your imperfections?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

2 Comments

  1. Tim S on July 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I used to think you had to be perfect, especially as a leader. That’s an impossible and unrealistic goal to have, and in fact, has the opposite effect of what I was trying to achieve.

    I’ve learned to embrace and celebrate all my imperfections, of which I have many. I use them as teachable moments to my coworkers, team members, and people I lead. Sharing your imperfections, and what you have learned from them, is so important to help others work through theirs.

    The human spirit is wired to take risks and overcome obstacles. Having a strong network of friends, family, and faith help you realize you can’t always do it alone, but you are supported and loved.

    The other thing I have to celebrate my imperfections is looking at this quote which hangs in my office right next to a picture of the man who said it:

    “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney



  2. Tim S on July 2, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I used to think you had to be perfect, especially as a leader. That’s an impossible and unrealistic goal to have, and in fact, has the opposite effect of what I was trying to achieve.

    I’ve learned to embrace and celebrate all my imperfections, of which I have many. I use them as teachable moments to my coworkers, team members, and people I lead. Sharing your imperfections, and what you have learned from them, is so important to help others work through theirs.

    The human spirit is wired to take risks and overcome obstacles. Having a strong network of friends, family, and faith help you realize you can’t always do it alone, but you are supported and loved.

    The other thing I have to celebrate my imperfections is looking at this quote which hangs in my office right next to a picture of the man who said it:

    “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney



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