If you were given a second chance—an opportunity to change your ways, or even to re-do parts of your life—how would you act differently? I believe that if you are lucky enough to get a second chance in your life, whether it be with love, school, a race or anything else, you have a duty to not take it for granted.

In my life, I have faced serious injury, a broken marriage and financial struggle. However, I have always found a way, with help from others, to turn things around and to seize my second chances for all that they are worth. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worthwhile, and I have learned a lot along the way. Here is some advice to help you make the most of a second chance.

  1. Be grateful for where you are right now. My favorite part of a race? Surprisingly, not the finish line. It isn’t even that part in every race where I dig down deep and come up with motivation that defeats the exhaustion. My favorite part is the very beginning, when I get to look around and see the faces of all my peers, smiling and ready to show themselves and their loved ones why they’ve been working so hard. I look at the faces of people who might beat my time or who might get in my way during a difficult open water swim and I am thankful to be at the starting line next to them. You’ll never appreciate how far you go if you don’t take a moment to look around and appreciate where you are.
  2. Ask for help when you need it. If life has put you in a situation where you need a second chance, it is very likely that you will need some assistance to make the most of it. That is okay! When I was dealing with an unsatisfactory settlement payment situation, Jamie DaCosta at Novation helped me figure out a better solution to receive the money I needed when I needed it. If it hadn’t been for the thoughtfulness of Novation employees, I wouldn’t have been able to live my life the way I wanted to. Today, I am racing in triathlons, giving motivational speeches and volunteering. Without Novation, none of this would have been possible.
  3. Love loudly and thoroughly. Meeting and falling in love with my wife, Wendy, was not something I never anticipated after my divorce. I didn’t know it was possible to have someone in your life who could support you through the big things—like injuries and triathlon training—while also making you laugh every day and doing the silly things with you, like margarita night and karaoke. I work every day to show my wife the appreciation and gratitude she deserves because, as she wisely says, “If you’re lucky enough to get a second chance, don’t waste it!”
  4. Share what you have learned. After my injury, I refused to give up the sports I loved playing. In order to continue, I developed my own ways of participating, which meant inventing prostheses and other mechanical devices. Instead of keeping these inventions to myself, I have shared my creations with other amputee triathletes so they can make the most of their second chances.
  5. Play it forward. An obligation of making the most of a second chance is spreading your gratitude and fortune to others. Since my accident, I have been lucky enough to meet the kids of Broward Children’s Center, a center for children and young adults with special needs. This year, I am racing 25 triathlons for 25 children of BCC, displaying their pictures on my jersey while I race, and sharing their stories with my followers. These kids were not given all the same physical advantages that others have, but they have motivation, determination and drive that not everyone possesses. Read more about BCC here: http://bcckids.org/

Second chances are out there. Sometimes it’s a matter of looking at life differently and trusting a loved one to help you find your way. Sometimes, it means digging in and tapping into new reservoirs of courage. If I can make the most of my second chance, I know others can too. Email me at DontStopLivingPR@gmail.com or reach out on Facebook if you want to discuss or share your second chance story. I would love to keep this conversation going!