Hi there! I’m Michael!
When I was a little kid, my parents realised that their little boy (as incredibly cute as he was) couldn’t walk or run or climb stairs like all the other kids did. So they put me in my little baby-blue stroller and pushed me from one doctor to the next to find out what was wrong.
I was diagnosed with a very rare neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. My parents were told that I would never have a normal life.
Now, I’m 37 years old and rocking it like a pirate ninja with a lightsaber – and that’s as visual a description as it gets. I suspect that at one point, my disease just gave up on me and hung its hat in the corner before it showed itself out. It probably thought it wasn’t worth all the effort it took to take me down.
I do not allow anything to hold me back. Ever. Least of all, that strongest obstacle of all: the nagging voice in my head that tells me I can’t do it.
Here are just a few things that I did in the past couple of years alone:
- I travelled a lot – alone with just my wheelchair and a backpack if necessary (Japan, South East Asia, Europe, and a bit of North America)
- I moved to New Zealand to live and work there for two years
- I worked on award-winning TV-shows and feature movies
- I got certified as a fitness trainer (CPT) in the USA, and by the looks that I got I think I must have been the first one to sit the exam in a wheelchair
- Plenty of public speaking, from talking to members of parliament to a cinema full of kids.
- Scuba-diving in the caribbean
- I went on a mountainbike tour in the Austrian mountains with my wheelchair
- Hang-gliding over a historic bavarian landscape
- I jumped out of an airplane in the Bay of Islands and skydived through clouds
- I flew in an acrobatic airplane through an airshow routine (and passed out at 5g)
- I jumped off the SkyTower in Auckland twice (and screamed my lunges out both times)
- I went dancing, and somehow got mistaken for a celebrity
- I raced on the Nürburgring Formula 1 track
- and much, much more
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Three decades ago the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t have a normal life. I guess they were right.
It was a long and somewhat bumpy road, but at some point in my life I finally realised something: all the obstacles were only in my head. With the right mindset, I could achieve anything!
What blows me away every time is how people connect with my story and manage to apply it to their own life. Not just with disabilities, but taking responsibility for their lives no matter what their challenge is – or what there excuse has been up until then. Because we all make excuses, don’t we?
My condition is a challenge every day: I can’t walk further than a block, and even for that I need a crutch and someone to lean on. I can’t get up most stairs and even something as ordinary as getting up from a chair takes a lot of effort and sometimes a helping hand. When I go outside, I am using an electric wheelchair.
I’m not going to pretend that limitations don’t exist at all, and neither should you. But I will say this: almost all of the things that we think are blocking our way to a fulfilled and happy life are only imagined. You might not have a disability like I do. You probably have other things that you think hold you back from the life that you want.
This is where I come in: How to overcome our limitations is something that can be learnt. And I am here to teach the world how to do it.
That’s why, after ten years in the film business, this is what I am now doing as much as I possibly can: to speak on stage, to write, and to coach individuals as well as groups how to overcome what they think is holding them back.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please get in touch. And if you think that I should be working with you or your organisation, please get in touch as well.
In the meantime you’ll find me here where I’ll be writing about
- my life-long experience with limitations and how I overcome them.
- How small changes in your thinking can suddenly change the world for you.
- The rules I live by whenever I want to achieve something that seems to be impossible.
And maybe, we can make the world a little better together.