Imagine running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Now imagine doing that with your eyes closed. Sinead Kane is a qualified solicitor, certified mediator, writer, speaker and elite ultra runner never let only having 5% vision hold her back from being the best she could be.

Sinead was the first visually impaired athlete and Irish female to complete in the World Marathon Challenge, participating in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. This would be an amazing accomplishment for any person, but the fact she completed it with only 5% vision is a remarkable and inspiring achievement. It was without a doubt a tough challenge for her but Sinead describes that everyday life and her journey to now has been even more challenging.

From being bullied at school to hearing people tell her she cannot do something because of her disability, Sinead never let anyone tell her something was impossible. She chose she was going to be the best version of herself she could be. Despite being told by a teacher in school that studying law was not a realistic goal, she proved her wrong and became the first registered blind solicitor in Ireland in 2009.

You can listen to the full episode of Sinead Kane’s interview at this link.

This is an amazing story by an really inspiring person. Here are seven key learns to take away from Sinead’s podcast:

1. Being different is an opportunity. Most people don’t like being different or standing out. However, it is not as bad as you would think. In fact, when you live the life as someone who is different, you learn right away it has it’s cool moments. Sinead is living life to the full not letting her disability hold her back. She has raced in ten countries and has even been to Antarctica – a place very few people get to.

2. It is not the setback that define us, it is how we react. At some point or another, life punches everyone in the face. The punch may be hard or it may be soft, but it is definitely coming. Your success or failure is largely determined by the answer to a single question: how well can you take the punch? How resilient are you? How quick can you get back up? Do you go around moaning and feeling sorry for yourself or do you seek out a solution? Sinead is a living example of being resilient – when things knock her down she gets back up. Disability and how Sinead copes with it has made her incredibly strong. Setbacks are opportunities to learn about ourselves and our character.

3. Never say you cannot do it. Sinead ran seven marathons on seven continents with only 5% vision and admits she has no time for people who say that they can’t do a 5km run with full eyesight. Running marathons or studying law, Sinead has put in a lot more effort than some other people would.  Some people laugh at Sinead when she tells them she wants to be President of Ireland, but she has the belief that someday she could be living in Aras an Uachtarain and making a real difference. Anything is possible. Never give up on a goal because it is too hard. Even if things don’t work out the way you hope, it is better to try and fail than to just quit.

4. Don’t let anyone hold you back. When Sinead told her careers guidance teacher that she wanted to study law, the teacher said she would not be able for it. Sinead describes this as one of the best advice she received because it made her even more determined to go study law at university and she proved her wrong. This goes to show that you should not allow other people choose what is best for you. Only you can decide that is best for you and you should not allow other people hold you back from achieving your goals. If you are passionate about something and have the belief, go and do it and don’t allow anyone tell you otherwise. Get the energy vampires out of your life.

5. Overcome any obstacle life throws at you. Sinead has overcome many obstacles whether it was the teacher that said she would not be able to study law, the bullies at school or the employers who are not so keen when the see the white cane. Life is tough for everyone in many different ways. There will always be that something that will try get in the way of where you want to go, but you should not allow it to defeat you. Stay strong, pick yourself up and keep working hard to achieve that goal. It will all pay off in the end. You are rewarded in public for the hard work you do by yourself in private. Keep working hard to overcome obstacles.

6. Challenge makes you stronger. Everyone has a goal and a target of where you want to go, but sometimes these goals may seem out of reach. However, Sinead believes that your goals should scare you because if they don’t  they are not big enough and if it does not challenge you, it won’t change you. Challenge makes you stronger.  You will need to put yourself outside your comfort zones to achieve your goals. It will be tough, but stick with it and  it will all be worth it in the end . You will come out the other side as a much stronger and confident person.

7. Don’t take anything for granted. Sinead describes that everyday life is tough and cannot do some things that other people can do. To tell what the weather is like she cannot just look out a window, she has to physically go outside and feel if it is raining or not. She physically can’t see where she is going when out and about and it frustrates her that other people with full eyesight would rather look at the phone then watch where they are going. Put yourself in Sinead’s shoes and imagine what it is like. Disability can come to anyone’s door at any stage in life through accident or illness, so you are not immune.

Do you agree with my key learns from Sinead’s podcast? What were the things that inspired you most from Sinead’s interview? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Finally, a quick reminder that I will be hosting a special live podcast on Thursday 28 September at the Hamilton Building in Trinity College to celebrate What I Know Now’s 1 year anniversary. Hope to see you there. You can sign up now to attend at this link. 

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