Don’t assume about the disability, instead, ask good questions regarding their limitations. Seek to understand. Approaching someone with a disability in this manner will show a high level of respect that will garner the information needed to empower your relationship with the individual.
As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chad Osinga.
Chad is a retired US Army sniper who has experienced many challenges since birth. Despite being faced with immense hardship, Chad found a way to turn his pain into his purpose and obstacles into opportunities. As a resilience expert, Chad helps his clients uncover the legend within themselves and begin to thrive in life by also turning their obstacles into great opportunities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
First, thank you for having me. It is truly an honor. I grew up in a tiny Virginia town in the Shenandoah Valley. Life started hard for me as I was born with Erb’s palsy and to a mother who struggled with addiction for many years before my birth. My mother was able to help me regain function, but her fight with drugs would continue throughout my childhood.
Early in my life I was diagnosed with a learning disability and struggled greatly in the school setting and with being bullied daily. My life was riddled with struggle and seemed to progressively get harder year by year. By the time I was 12 years old, my mother had become dependent on crack cocaine.
Soon the drug dealers that were serving my mother’s habits began frequenting our home and before I knew it had made our residence a base camp for their activities. I stopped going to school and began selling drugs for the dealer who now ran their operations through my home. At 14 years old federal and state law enforcement agencies raided my home.
My mother was sent to federal prison and I to family in Oklahoma. I was sent there to be in a safe and loving environment, however, it was far from that. My aunt and uncle would abuse me physically, and mentally, and cut all connections I had with my mom and family in Virginia. After 18 months of abuse, I could take no more of my living conditions and decided to run away and escape back to my family in Virginia.
After all of these things had happened I became angry at the world, began making one bad decision after the next, and had no aspirations for the future.
Finally, things shifted when I met the love of my life, she saw things in me that I could not see at the time. I began to change my life around and do my best to be the man she needed and wanted.
Shortly after our second child’s birth, I joined the Army to ensure I became the man my wife needed. It was one of the best decisions I have made as it helped me not just become a man, but also create an unbreakable. belief in my abilities.
Throughout my time in the military, I became a sniper and a combat applications instructor to name a few accomplishments. I was allowed to teach all 4 branches of the military, the FBI, US Marshalls, and SWAT teams, coach an all-Army boxer, and Combatives team.
It was through this phase in my life I realized that my calling in life was to teach and instruct others. To help others become sharper and push them to levels of greatness they never knew existed within them. This ability to help others become successful followed me into my civilian life. Today, I help clients uncover the legend that is hidden within them, assisting them to go farther than they imagined they could go and soar to heights they once only dreamed of.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
In 2020, I was riding my motorcycle with 5 other friends. We entered I-95 Southbound and moved to the far left lane. I was in the front of the pack of Harley-Davidson motorcycles roaring down the interstate. To our left was a jersey barrier as there was construction beyond the concrete barrier.
A minivan was in the center lane and their lane began to slow down due to vehicles slowing down in front of them. Without properly looking, the driver swerved left directly into my lane. Having no time and no space to move the van hit me going 65 miles per hour. As the van hit me my motorcycle went into the jersey barrier and my body flew into the construction zone that was to the left of the interstate.
A few of the riders with me were veterans and applied for first aid while waiting for the ambulance. On the way to the hospital I flatlined, upon arriving at the hospital they deemed that my injuries were too severe for them to treat and sent me to a trauma center. When I arrived at the second hospital I went into surgery. As the surgeon opened me up he saw that the MRI did not show the extent of the injuries and they would need to do another surgery.
Before the second surgery took place they placed me in the pre-operation section to check my vitals. As the nurse checked me out I began slurring my words and my heart rate rose to a dangerously high level. Again I would flatline, the medical team rushed me into a room and began applying life-saving measures. I woke up in an intensive care unit room which I would have to stay in for 7 days and in the hospital for 14 days. My femur, hip, and pelvis were all shattered, my neck was fractured, the tendons in my right hand were all severed, and I had a very serious traumatic brain injury as well. I would have 5 surgeries and was told I may not walk for 18 months, and if I did it would be with assistance.
What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
I believe a few things helped me to be determined and set on beating the odds I was faced with. First, my daughter had a stroke when she was 5 years old. The doctors told her she would never walk, talk, or eat on her own ever again. However, my daughter had a different idea, and took her first steps 4 months after her stroke, as well as began to speak, and eat on her own. My daughter is my inspiration, I knew if she could overcome such a hard circumstance then I had no excuse.
Secondly, the struggles I had faced throughout my life had made me very resilient, determined, and unable to settle. I thank the universe for placing me through such hardship as it prepared me for this period of my life.
Lastly, as I lay in the hospital I realized my true purpose in this life. For the first time, my purpose was clear, and everything in my life made sense. I knew that all of this was to eventually help others overcome, thrive, and become the greatest versions of themselves. I held the image of myself impacting the world in the forefront of my mind. Even when I had really hard days during my recovery I leveraged that image, and forced myself to continue to push forward, my purpose became a burning desire that pushed me into excellence and would not permit me to settle for anything less than complete success. I knew that if I were to prove doctors wrong, if I were to will myself into the greatest form I had ever been in, then and only then would I be able to fulfill my calling of helping others do the same.
When things got hard and I felt like quitting, and those moments arose along the way, I brought these three things into the forefront of my mind to remind myself of why I was fighting. In 5 months I was able to take my first steps with assistance despite the doctors saying it would take 18 months. I refused to allow myself to have pity parties and live in anger just because I was confined to an old recliner. Instead, I decided to use my time wisely. I dove into self-mastery and became a full-time student. I was a sponge and addicted to becoming the very sharpest version of myself, not just physically, but in every facet of my life.
Truthfully, I am grateful that man hit me, as it helped change me into the person I am today, and has helped me become clear on my purpose.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?
The most important accomplishment I have attained is being a mentor to others. That wreck was meant to kill me, but instead, it ignited a fire within me and has helped me to live with no limits. Today I am very fortunate to help others live in the same manner. Additionally, I speak, make guest appearances on podcasts like Entrepreneurs Magazines Action & Ambition podcasts, and help at-risk children attain a better perspective of life and their capabilities.
I turned my pain into my purpose and my obstacles into opportunities. If it were not for this accident I would not be changing lives, I never would have become a leader of leaders, and I would not live a life of purpose.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
First, the only limitations we have are the ones we tell ourselves we have. There are deep reservoirs of potential and greatness within each one of us. As my mentor, Bob Proctor said, “nothing is impossible, we just have to figure out a way to do it.” The doctors told us my daughter would be a vegetable. She would never walk, talk, or even eat on her own ever again. They showed us an MRI of her brain and pointed out that the right half no longer functioned. Today, the MRI shows the same, but she has defied their predictions. She placed it in her mind to walk, talk, eat, and live a great life. Today, she works, trains dogs, and continues to do everything the doctors say she couldn’t. The only person who has to believe and buy into the goal is you!
Lastly, Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Notice he says seed. We do not receive the whole plant and the last time I checked seeds are small. This means you have to be looking for it. Once you find it, it is our job to water it, place it in the right soil, and provide the nourishment needed daily. If we are consistently doing this, that seed will grow and produce something far larger than whatever hardship you may be facing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have several people who have assisted me along this journey, two of the largest influences in my life so far have been my mentors Bob Proctor and Ryan Stewman. Both have taught me how to believe in myself, helped me refine my craft, and taught me how to have a winning formula not just in business, but life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Talking about my journey, the struggles, but more so how I was able to leverage what was within me to overcome my circumstance is how I make the biggest difference. Whether it is through a speaking engagement, podcasts, interviews like this one, and social media I am in constant pursuit of helping others uncover the legend within them. My goal is to reach one hundred million people, and everything I do is to reach that goal.
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
Our disability does not define us, if anything it makes us stronger. Too many people place those who have a disability in the “can’t” category before ever giving them a shot.
Secondly, we don’t need your sympathy. Someone feeling sorry for us does not make our lives easier, and usually causes people to treat us in a lesser fashion.
Third, look at them not their disability. See the person, their talents, ambitions, and ideas, not the one or two things that make them different than you.
Fourth, learn from those who have disabilities, as they are some of the most creative and resilient on the planet.
Lastly, don’t assume about the disability, instead, ask good questions regarding their limitations. Seek to understand. Approaching someone with a disability in this manner will show a high level of respect that will garner the information needed to empower your relationship with the individual.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~Napoleon Hill
This quote empowered me to take action despite the situation I may have found myself. By doing what Hill said, I have always found more success than I ever thought possible.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
One person I would love to be able to sit down with and have a conversation with would be, Gary Vaynerchuk. He is one of a very small list of people who I have wanted to meet. Mainly because of his positive mindset and how he views business. It would truly be an honor to have a meal with him, and I know that that conversation would positively impact my life moving forward.
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!
Unstoppable: How Chad Osinga Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Erb’s palsy was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.