How 10 People Channeled the Secret Power of Relentlessness and Learned to Keep Moving Forward

We should keep moving forward every day.

I know this, you know this, but it’s more difficult than ever when times are tough. 

We’re often drained, tired, and putting one foot forward takes the strength of giants. 

Have you been there?

I have…

At these times I wish I had the strength of a mythical superhero like the Hulk, the wisdom of Captain America, or the genius of Iron Man…

I wish I had mythical super powers, but I don’t. The closest I can come is mastering a few of these super powers available to anyone

But none of the above heroes exist, so we won’t be talking about them here. Instead, we’ll delve into the lives of 10 real life superheroes. People who probably never should have had a chance, but they shouted “NO!” and pushed forward anyway. 

These are the real heroes we will learn from today. We will learn how they kept moving forward despite everything and everyone telling them otherwise. 

You might know of these heroes, but do you know how they overcome their adversities? 🤔

These stories are not equal, but such is the point. Being born without arms or legs is a serious difficulty right from the get go. But being homeless, getting attacked by a shark, or being uprooted and forced into a concentration camp were challenges each hero faced. 

We ALL have unique aspects of life holding us back. Some of us will overcome those obstacles and some will not. 

Each of us has our own struggles and things to overcome. There’s no need to compare ourselves to others, but sometimes it helps to put things into perspective. 

I bet you’re ready to overcome, right? 👍

We’ll learn from Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms or legs but became a husband, father, international speaker, and author. 

We’ll dive into the life of Liz Murray and how she went from homelessness to Harvard. 

We’ll uncover the secret drive keeping J. K. Rowling going even when she received rejection after rejection. 

For each hero, I’ll provide a quote (or two) attributed to them, what they overcame, my thoughts on how they did it, and what they have achieved.  

Let’s dive in and learn from these ten authentic heroes. 

1) Nick Vujicic

“It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything.” —Nick Vujicic

“If you can’t get a miracle, become one.” –Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits

What did he have to overcome?

Nick was born without arms or legs. Nick and his family were told he wouldn’t lead a “normal” life. This was correct. He has since lived a life of impact, miracles, and life change. 

How did he keep moving forward? 

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick in person. I got to give him a hug. It was amazing. 

I bet it’s these hugs that have kept him moving forward. Knowing that he gets to change lives and meet those he helps has to be huge. 

In his book, Life Without Limits, which I loved and highly recommend, Nick shares his overriding desire to one day walk on his own two legs. He prays for it constantly.

But even though his prayer has yet to be answered, he’s found incredible motivation and drive on telling his story and by leaning into his ability to speak and influence.

This little guy walking around on top of a table, speaking into my life, and the lives of all around, captivated me. 

What did he achieve? 

Nick has written several books, speaks around the world, and has a wife and family of his own. 

2) Liz Murray

“Instead, what I was beginning to understand was that however things unfolded from here on, whatever the next chapter was, my life could never be the sum of one circumstance. It would be determined, as it had always been, by my willingness to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward, come what may.” –Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard (emphasis mine)

What did she have to overcome?

Raised by drug-addicted parents, Liz became homeless at 15. Her mother had just died of HIV and her father moved into a homeless shelter. 

How did she keep moving forward? 

Liz attended a local high school and quickly graduated. She dug down deep and kept going, despite everything going against her, and got a scholarship into Harvard. 

From an interview with BBC we learned that Liz had to describe her past events and what she overcame to move ahead. Fascinating that the very thing she used to overcome was talking about what she had to overcome. Liz turned an untenable situation on its head and created her own momentum. 

What did she achieve? 

Liz graduated from Harvard in 2009 and founded her company, Manifest Living. She is now an inspirational speaker, bestselling author, mother and winner of Oprah’s Chutzpah Award.

3) Brendon Burchard

“No matter your position, circumstances, or opportunities in life, you always have the freedom of mind to choose how you experience, interpret, and, ultimately, shape your world.” –Brendon Burchard, The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel

What did he have to overcome?

Depression and surviving a car accident at 19. 

How did he keep moving forward? 

Ever since getting a front row ticket to his own death, Brendon uses these three questions as the basis for moving forward:

  1. Did I live fully?
  2. Did I love openly? 
  3. Did I make a difference?

I love these questions. If we wait until it’s too late to ask these, it will be too late. Every single day holds our chance to keep moving forward. Don’t wait until it’s too late. 

What did he achieve? 

Brendon’s books include The Motivation Manifesto, The Charge, The Millionaire Messenger and Life’s Golden Ticket, and High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way. 

He’s also a world renowned speaker, podcaster, and his YouTube channel is one of the most popular on the platform. 

4) Jessica Cox

“It’s only human to have low moments in life because if you don’t, then you won’t feel the high, exciting times.” –Jessica Cox

What did she have to overcome?

Jessica Cox was born without arms because of a rare birth defect. 

How did she keep moving forward? 

Jessica set a huge goal. I don’t think the importance of reaching for greater heights than might be imaginable should be overlooked. 

She got her pilot’s license. Is this a ridiculous or overzealous goal for someone without arms?

Yes. 

But she did it anyway. 

It took her three years (the average time is 6 months), and complications because of her condition, but she finally achieved her dream. 

What did she achieve? 

She achieved the dream of becoming a pilot. Oh, and she also holds a black belt, is a motivational speaker, and has her SCUBA certification. Don’t mess with Jessica!

5) J.K. Rowling

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” –J. K. Rowling

What did she have to overcome?

Before the worldwide success of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling battled depression, a failed marriage rejection, and an overwhelming feeling of failure. 

Oh, and publishing companies rejected Harry Potter 12 times. Yikes. Yet, she pushed forward and stayed strong. 

How did she keep moving forward? 

From what I can see, the driving force of her success was to get help. When she sought help, she began writing and putting thoughts to paper. And then the rest is history. 

Getting help, talking about our issues, and being vulnerable can feel painful, but it almost always leads to healing. 

But she also kept moving forward each day. She kept putting pen to paper and worked on a project. 

Having a project and an aim is SO important, and she found success through its completion. This is definitely not always going to be the case, but each iteration and each failure showed her what not to do, and she kept on moving forward. 

What did she achieve? 

She became the first author in the world to have a net worth of $1 billion, was given the OBE (Order of The British Empire) award from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 2001 for her remarkable contribution to children’s literature, and even had a character created for her in The Simpsons. 

6) Jim Carrey

“It is better to risk starving to death than surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?” –Jim Carrey

What did he have to overcome?

Jim Carrey was homeless, out of money, with no good direction to turn. He has battled depression and anxiety and has dealt with the stress of fame and fortune. 

How did he keep moving forward? 

In 1998 he wrote himself a check for $10 million and promised to cash it in five years. Turns out his first major role was Dumb and Dumber and it paid $10 million. 

He set a huge goal and worked for it. He channeled his aspirations for more into concrete steps to work the plan. 

Jim Carrey is an impressive example of the power of setting intentions and to keep moving forward no matter what. 

What did he achieve? 

Jim Carrey has starred in a ton of movies, given commencement speeches, and has paved the way for himself and others to grow into their dreams. 

7) Bethany Hamilton 

“Life is a lot like surfing… When you get caught in the impact zone, you’ve got to just get back up. Because you never know what may be over the next wave.” –Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

What did she have to overcome?

She had her arm bitten off by a shark while only 13 years old in 2003. 

How did she keep moving forward? 

It was her foundation of faith and uncanny perseverance that kept her going. Hamilton was up surfing again only 1 month after it attacked her. 

I’m not a fan of the water, so if a shark attacked me I’d be done. No way I’d go back, ever. But just 30 days later she was back up. 

What did she achieve? 

Bethany has achieved worldwide fame for her never stop attitude, and has written a book, had a movie made after her, and has even competed professionally in surfing. 

8) Oprah Winfrey

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. –Oprah Winfrey

What did she have to overcome?

Everyone knows Oprah, but did you know she gave birth at 14 and lost her child? Being raised in inner city Milwaukee wasn’t without its difficulties either as she lived in Poverty and faced challenges day to day.  

How did she keep moving forward? 

She was authentic through and through and was vulnerable to others so they would open up to her. Oprah moved forward one step at a time and has since made a difference in many lives. 

She also views challenges as stepping stones to growth. She encourages people to lean into hardship and make the most of every day. 

What did she achieve? 

She became the Oprah millions know and love!

9) Chen Zhou

“God of Heaven took my legs, but he gave me a beautiful wife and a pair of healthy children granting me a platform where I can make my life meaningful. Everyone gets knocked down in life. The winners get up no matter how many times they get knocked down. I’ll keep fighting as long as I breathe” –Chen Zhou

What did he have to overcome?

Chen Zou lost both his legs in a train accident. 

How did he keep moving forward? 

Despite it all Chen Zhou kept a positive outlook on life and faced his challenges head on. 

What did he achieve? 

He has literally climbed mountains, and one day hopes to climb in Tibet. He travels the world as a musician, a speaker, and otherwise encourages people to never give up, no matter what the odds. 

10) Viktor Frankl

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” –Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

What did he have to overcome?

Between 1942 and 1945 they imprisoned Viktor Frankl at several concentration camps by Nazis, including Auschwitz. His wife and family were killed by the Nazis.

How did he keep moving forward? 

As of this writing, I’m reading Man’s Search for Meaning by this author for the first time. I’m blown away by the stories he tells, and how he overcame unspeakable hardship. 

He links his ability to keep moving forward despite all odds to his desire to tell his story by and the psychological discoveries he made. Meditating on his love for his beloved, having the courage to face life’s challenges, and understanding his “why” were what got him through. 

He made his “why” of surviving to tell his tale, and this helped him to keep moving forward despite all the odds. 

His concept of the power of holding onto a future goal and working towards it relentlessly helped him survive against the odds. 

What did he achieve? 

He wrote Man’s Search for Meaning in only 9 days, but more than any other achievement, we should recognize that he survived the horrors of the concentration camp. 

I would expect no one to retell this kind of story let alone with an uncanny eye for staying as unbiased as possible. He turned something terrible into a life-changing book for many. 

This list of heroes is non-exhaustive, and there are countless others out there in the world. 

I hope this list has introduced or confirmed to you the power of the human will for life, the resiliency we all have access to, and the benefit of moving forward despite the odds. 

But the story isn’t over. 

I want to hear from you.

Who is a hero you admire not on this list?

Share in the comments below. I can’t wait to see who you come up with. 

All the best,

-Jordan