Finding motivation and overcoming the fear of failure
When children ask 43-year-old, small-town Alberta-raised Chris Koch how it feels to not have arms or legs, he kindly asks back, “Well, what does it feel like to have arms and legs?” Their usual response is “It’s normal,” to which Chris replies, “This is my normal, so it feels the same.”
Throughout his childhood, Chris’ parents chose not to coddle him. Like other kids, he recalls riding in farm equipment on his grandpa’s lap at his grain and cow-calf operation. In time, he steered. Then grandpa sat in the buddy seat while Chris drove, until the day he was trusted to operate alone.
As he got older, he worked on farms for family and friends, always “just figuring it out.” As he puts it, he’s a regular guy who lives alone in a regular apartment without technology or gadgets. He freelance farms, travels and does public speaking independently.
You can do whatever you want
I can climb the ladder and get in a combine, tractor or sprayer. Mostly, I don’t need modifications except on some smaller tractors with a clutch. Then, I get creative with a two-by-four or fence post to get going. Partly, this mentality comes through my ag background where everyone helps, but also through the War Amps Child Amputee Program where kids are encouraged to figure it out on their own. They become independent and happier. I’ve helped at farms across Canada, the U.S. and Australia. We need to be responsible for ourselves.
Find your motivation
Fear of missing out drives me. I’m more afraid of regret than failure.
Fear of missing out drives me. I’m more afraid of regret than failure. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself when I could be out making the most of life. Yes, I’ve talked myself out of doing something or chickened out. Looking back, I wonder why. I regret not speaking about my life sooner, travelling sooner and getting rid of the artificial legs sooner. Fear of failure, looking silly or what others think cripples us. Overthink, and you’ll find reasons to talk yourself out of things. If you give yourself one reason why you should, that’s good enough, as long as you’re not harming yourself or others. I’m definitely more of a “jump and the net will appear” person.
Step outside your comfort zone
Absolutely, there are things I can’t do but the list of what I can do is always longer. People sometimes say, “I would never be able to do a certain thing.” That gives yourself permission to not even try. Occasionally, I pull something off my “can’t” list and put in on the “can” list just to see if I can. Continually pushing yourself develops character, resilience and perseverance and gets you used to dealing with things when life throws curveballs.
I’m inherently positive but there have been rough patches, funks, times when I wake up not feeling it. If I can get out the door, cruise on my board or even get on the tractor, that’s therapeutic. Eight to 16 hours just driving a tractor or combine – there’s something about it. It’s incredible, a breath of fresh air. When I get busy doing my speaking role and I squeeze in farm work, putting in way longer hours, I feel energized and refreshed.
You can drown in your own negativity or others’ negativity. Concentrate on what makes you happy. Being miserable or critical, that’s often a choice. I choose to focus on people who are making the most of life.
Find inspiration in others
Cliff Chadderton, who founded The War Amps Child Amputee Program, and Karl Hilzinger, a CFL player who lost his legs in a car accident, inspired me. Both believed: “It’s what’s left that counts.” Karl’s football career was over, but he showed that with a good head, heart and determination, we can do amazing things. Cliff lost his leg in Belgium in WWII and dedicated his life to making the lives of Canadians, mainly amputees, better.
Concentrate on and be grateful for what you have. As a kid, maps, history and wanting to see the world fascinated me. My buddy has been to 198 countries. I’d like to give that a try. That’s a loose goal. I’ve had the opportunity to see agriculture in different parts of the world, which is cool. I really want to do a peanut harvest in Georgia. I’m trying to collect as many possible experiences and stories in life as I can. That’s how I want to be rich.
Be open about your life
Share your story. It’s cathartic. It also makes me more accountable to act, continuously leading by example, tackling that next adventure, the next job challenge. It excites me and it gives me new stuff to share instead of repeating that one thing I did 10 or 15 years ago.
Learn more about Chris and his journeys at ifican.ca.
From an AgriSuccess article as told to Myrna Stark Leader.