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APiD Ep. 044 | Lessons from the Chair

Redefining Disability, Avoiding the Victim Cave, and the Path to Personal Power



Check out the full transcript here.

For all of us intent on becoming the person we were made to be and living the lives we were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon, this episode is a must-listen.


30 years ago, Ryan Baker died a "little death"--little only in the sense that it didn't signify his final departure from this life.

In every other sense, though, it was a death indeed, and it permanently divided his life into before and after.


Ryan lives every day now with the physical results of that "little death" and the emotional pain that goes with it. And it's from that crucible that Ryan has acquired insights for living that all of us need to hear.


Through the lens of his story, Ryan blows up conventional notions of "disability" to help us diagnose and treat our own disabilities more clearly, teaches us how to avoid victimy frames of mind and stay in the driver's seat of our lives, reveals the danger of expectations, and a whole lot more.


Introducing Ryan Baker

Ryan is a native of California and, with his wife, Kelly, now splits time between California and Steamboat Springs, CO. He is a lifelong athlete, an innovator, a podcaster, coach, and mentor.


30 year ago, at the age of 19, he suffered an injury of his 6th thoracic vertebrae in a relatively mild car accident.

Though the accident was mild, the consequences for Ryan were anything but: He was instantly paralyzed from the sternum down, retaining function from his pecs up. He’s now lived much more of his life in a wheelchair than on his feet, and the lessons from that chair that he shares in this conversation are important for all of us to hear.


Thankfully, we don't have to go where Ryan has gone to benefit from the lessons he's learned.

This conversation challenged and encouraged me big-time, and without a doubt, there's something in this episode that can change your life, too, if you'll let it.


Highlights & Takeaways

To get the full benefit and your own personal takeaways, tune in to the full episode. In the meantime, though, here are a few highlights and takeaways that stuck out to me:

  • Do for yourself what you’re capable of doing for yourself. Enlist others for help with the rest. When we insist on assuming full responsibility for what we can do, it will build self-confidence. It will be edifying to your soul.” When we succumb to self-pity and let others do for us things that we’re capable of doing for ourselves, we diminish ourselves and rob ourselves of the personal power that we’re meant to wield in the world.

  • The danger of unmet expectations: “The biggest form of disappointment is unmet expectations...when you perceive your life as a series of unmet expectations, you’re setting yourself up for incredible disappointment. If we can respond differently to those unmet expectations and figure out how to turn them into something else or understand that the unmet expectation is really just a part of the plan and not hang on to it again…”

  • Don’t try to drive farther than your headlights will illuminate. Be content to travel the part of the path that you’re able to see, and as you do, more of the path will be revealed.

  • Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and the most destructive ones reside within our hearts and minds. You may be physically mobile, but in what ways are you mentally or emotionally disabled through a failure of personal responsibility??

  • Life is hard and tragic. Press on courageously anyway.

  • Our Story and our unique Purpose in the world are inseparable.

A few notable / quotable quotes:

  • One man's floor is another man's roof.

  • You have to be a disaster before you become the master. (T. Harv Eker)

  • Life isn’t happening to us; it’s responding to us...It's all about our response.

  • I don't want to walk again. (Wow.)

  • Every little step should be considered a small victory.

Making It Matter in Your Life Today

Ryan can't walk, but if you have ears to hear, he's more fully-functioning and alive than many of us that can walk. How's that for mind-blowing?


Into what nooks and crannies of your heart and mind has Ryan's story shone the light of revelation? What victimy tendencies or lifelong patterns have been exposed?

Your heart is speaking to you, calling to you to step out of the shadows of victimhood and complacency and into the bright light of the full weight of your existence. To step courageously onto the path uniquely suited to you so you can achieve the purposes uniquely available to you.


Today is all you've got. What are you waiting for?


Remember: you ARE going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

New to Andrew Petty is Dying?

If you're new to this show, visit andrewpettyisdying.com to browse the archive of past interviews with fascinating people and short, topical solo episodes--all designed to equip you with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon. We flip the script by inviting our ancient foe, Death, to become an unlikely ally in our heroic journey to leave it all out on the field of life. Turns out, Mortality might just be the most potent motivator available--blasting us out of our ambivalence and complacency and into the fullness of our potential.

Connect with me to learn more about how a powerful, confidential 1-1 coaching partnership or participation in a Graveyard Group can help you live even more courageously and die regret-free. And I'm excited to share that the first-ever women's Graveyard Group is launching soon, too!



Find me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, visit my website, or email me.


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