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Finding Direction with Resiliency

Read John Samuel's blog on Finding Direction with Resiliency

By John Samuel

After publishing my book, Don’t Ask the Blind Guy for Directions (external link), I took some time off from writing. However, I’ve recently been picking things back up with the extended blogs for the newsletter, and some other content pieces that we have been developing for the company, and it feels so good! Writing has been therapeutic for me in many ways!

In the early days of the business, it felt like I was trapped in a hamster wheel going nowhere, so I would end each day at the office writing a blog. Most of those words never saw the light of day, but I felt like I had accomplished something for the hours I spent behind my desk!

Last week, I found myself typing away on my laptop about an experience that one of our Ablr Works Candidates was going through. She had received a job offer to join a company and when she arrived for her first day of orientation, she was sent home when they realized she was blind. Having gone through a similar experience in my own life, I could empathize with her. All of those emotions that I felt 11-years ago rushed back up and I was able to release them on a Word doc.

I was angry, and my words reflected that emotion. However, what I kept coming back to in my writing was how proud I was of the Candidate, who handled herself with poise and professionalism, and how her resiliency shined through.

I left the draft incomplete, but when I decided to pick it back up today, I decided to start from scratch. It’s not because I condone the actions of the employer, but rather I had time to bask in the Candidates resiliency, which is a true superpower, that has personally served me well throughout my own career and life.

In between me starting the first draft and the blog, and me writing this one, I’ve had some really great experiences which has caused me to double down on the importance of resiliency.

Last week, I had the honor of being on the stage at the Foundation Fighting Blindness Visions Conference, where over 550 people were in attendance. I shared the stage with some amazing leaders, including Mike Hess from BIT (external link) and Rebecca Rosenberg from ReBokeh (external link), who are also visually impaired and crushing it! After our panel discussion, I was approached by many loved ones of people who were recently diagnosed with retinal conditions, which lead to blindness. As I was speaking to these parents, grandparents, and spouses of people who were recently diagnosed, I found myself thinking about our Candidate, how people in our community are resilient, and how we don’t let things hold us down!

Then, when I got back home, I was able to celebrate with my friends, Lindsay Wrege and Michael Evans, at 321 Coffee (external link), who were hosting a tailgate party at Whole Foods, where their coffee was now being sold! That’s an amazing accomplishment for two young entrepreneurs who started this business when they were still living in the dorms! It’s the resiliency that they showed over the years why they are now a success with their coffee bags on the shelves of Whole Foods!

As I wrap up, I’m making the decision not to empower the employer who lost out on a great talent by wasting my words on them, but rather to celebrate the Candidate for their resiliency and how it will serve them well in their career moving forward. However, I recognize that that we still have a lot more work to do at Ablr to change the mindsets of leaders and organizations – this is something where we can’t take our foot off the gas. So, if you think your organization would benefit from disability inclusion training, please let us know. And, if you are looking for great talent, ask this blind guy, because I can direct you right to them!