Pioneering: Easier Said Than Done (But You Can Do It Too)

What happens when we reach potholes and challenges and sticky spots and road bumps and barriers on our way towards accomplishing our purpose.

One of the seven No Barriers Life elements, pioneering is a strategy about picking yourself up and trying again and it is No Barriers third life element. 

Yes, failure is inevitable in life and there are ways that you can make the most out of your failure. You can stand back up, brush it off, extract lessons, and move forward with your new perspective, utilizing what you’ve learned to influence your future approach.

This pick yourself up and try again strategy calls on our the No Barriers life element pioneering.

pioneer no barriers life

What is Pioneering?

To Pioneer means you:

  • Focus on solutions rather than problems
  • Find creative ways to overcome obstacles 
  • Solve problems with innovative solutions 
  • Keep trying even when you fail

The three biggest skills within pioneering is innovation, creativity, and perseverance, Cause finding a way to break through barriers can take a minute.

A pioneer is someone who knows that the battle never stops, someone who turns adversity into optimism. Constantly throughout your life, you’re going to have obstacles thrown in the way of your dreams. It’s the pioneers who never give up despite what’s thrown in front of them. They keep pushing forward and don’t make excuses or accept defeat. They get creative with ways to overcome their obstacles and make the obstacles work FOR them instead of against them. 

A pioneer is someone knows that the battle never stops of turning adversity into optimism. Constantly throughout your life, you’re going to have obstacles thrown in the way of your dreams. It’s the pioneers who never give up despite what’s thrown in front of them. They keep pushing forward and don’t make excuses or accept defeat. They get creative with ways to overcome their obstacles and make the obstacles work FOR them instead of against them.

no barriers pioneer element

Photo by Moses Street

7 amazing stories of Pioneering

1. Scott Kim

Scott Kim, CEO of NEOFECT USA helped change the path in rehabilitation technology. Scott was born with spina bifida, which he was lucky enough to recover from, but due to this when he was a child, he had a lot of experience in rehab and for him rehab was never fun. NEOFECT creates products for patients with neurological conditions and helps to make rehabilitation more engaging and fun through products such as the Smart Glove which tracks your movement as you play games with the glove on and practice your mobility.

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When Scott and his partner first created NEOFECT though, they were risking it all, they were brave and ignorant. They stepped out into the unknown with a vision and a passion to help others but it was not easy to build this company from the ground up. Scott wasn’t afraid to fail in order to succeed and he pioneered through difficulty to create a company he loves.

2. Tish Scolnik

Tish Scolnik is very open about sharing the high highs and the low lows of being an entrepreneur. Tish is a founder of GRIT, an organization that created the Freedom Chair which enables wheelchair users to access the outdoors and adventures. Tish studied engineering at MIT and started this invention as a class project, but they realized the potential it had and they began to have people ask them if they could purchase this wheelchair.

no barriers community story: pioneering

Read No Barriers’ community member Amy Safell’s story of pioneering

From there, Tish and her group mates had to decide whether they would start their own business or sell their idea to another company. They eventually decided they were the best people for the job so they would start their own business, but they also knew that this choice was not going to be an easy one. Throughout the creation process, they had many, many failures, but that did not stop them from creating a wheelchair that can be adapted to many different needs.

Through all the failures and setbacks, Tish’s love for serving others through this platform helped her to push through those barriers and continue to pioneer and create a product that is not changing lives all over the world.

3. Mindy Scheier

Mindy Scheier’s project started very close to her heart. Mindy has been in the fashion industry since day one, but when she had a son with muscular dystrophy, her whole outlook on fashion began to change. Her son opened her eyes to the power of clothing and how disempowering it can be for people with disabilities. Mindy founded Runway of Dreams Foundation which aims to empower people with disabilities through adaptive clothing. Mindy faced many obstacles when building this organization because it was such new territory.

no barriers pioneer element

Photo Credit: Ryan Salm

Through the barriers she faced, Mindy saw the positive impact adaptive clothing had on her son’s life and she showed many pioneer characteristics by working through the obstacles to create an organization that she was passionate about and proud of. Outside of her organization, Mindy has pioneered as a mother to help empower her children and learn what it looks like to be a mother of a child with muscular dystrophy. 

4. Jamie Petrone

An actress, a dancer, a pianist and a non-profit founder; these are all titles that describe Jamie Petrone. The one thing she doesn’t let define her is the fact that she is a wheelchair user. Due to allergic reactions to medication and misdiagnosis, Jamie ended up in a wheelchair when she was in college.

But Jamie did not let that stop her; despite the many professors that told her she would never act again, Jamie pioneered a way for others like her to be in the performing arts. THISAbility is Jamie’s non-profit that is a performing arts conservatory and professional theatre company that is all about inclusion. Through the ups and downs of Jamie’s life being flipped upside down at what seemed to be the start of her career, she has broken barriers and paved the way for others like her. 

no barriers community story: pioneering

Read No Barriers’ community member Richard Roberts’ story of pioneering

5. Tom Dixon

If you’ve met Tim Dixon before, there is a high chance that Tim will not organically remember meeting you. In 2010, Tim was out running and got hit by a car, leaving him with a brain injury that caused severe episodic memory loss. Tim likes to refer to the day of his accident as “a day he’ll never remember and a date he’ll never forget.” Tim’s disability is invisible to outsiders which  adds another challenge because people often think he is rude for not remembering things and so he then has constantly explain himself to others.

Although this invisible disability has impact Tim in many different ways, he has chosen to pioneer through the struggle and make something that helps him and others. Tim created the ME.mory app that helps track memories; since Tim struggles to remember daily life events, he records events in this app which gives it a timestamp and location and Tim can put in as much detail or as little detail as he wants. 

6. Dave Inbody

Dave Inbody lost the lower half of his leg from an IED in Afghanistan, but he did not let that stop him. While out on an expedition in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico, Dave’s leg broke. Normally this would put an end to the expedition, but for Dave, this meant that his prosthetic broke leaving his right leg three inches shorter than his left with many miles still to go. Although this was a set back, Dave and his team started problem solving immediately.

By thinking through all the items they had they were able to jimmy-rig the bottom of his leg back together so that he could continue on. Dave and his group mate showed impressive pioneering skills through their ability to take a bad situation, brainstorm to fix it and keep moving forward.

no barriers pioneer element

Photo Credit: Lloyd Garden

7. Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr was one of the best climbers in the United States when he was 17 years old. But then the unthinkable happened; he was caught out in a storm while climbing for 3 nights and suffered severe frostbite. Due to this, both of Hugh’s legs had to be amputated from just below the knee. Through his rehabilitation, Hugh did what the doctors never expected; he climbed again. He pioneered through an event that shook his life and he took what he had and made it into something great.

no barriers community story: pioneering

Read No Barriers’ community member Penn Street’s story of pioneering

Hugh created prosthetics specific for climbing so that he could continue doing what he was passionate about. Hugh now is a professor at a MIT Media Lab where he works to create prosthetics that help propel people to be the best they can be despite any physical limitation. 

Quick tips to Pioneer right now👇

  • Look at the positives—and see what you can do with them!
  • Get creative! Brainstorm with others like you to create solutions
  • Put fear of failing to the side. There are ways that you can make the most out of your failure… you can stand back up, brush it off, extract lessons, and move forward with your new perspective, utilizing what you’ve learned to influence your future approach.
  • Join a community of like minded people. No Barriers will welcome you with open arms, and you better believe that we’d LOVE to see you at our next Summit

We’re ALL pioneers in our own way

no barriers pioneer element

Photo Credit: Micah Baird

The three biggest skills within pioneering are innovation, creativity, and perseverance, because finding a way to break through barriers can take a minute. Pioneering is about pushing through adversity and creating something amazing out of it. Adversity often comes when we least expect it, making it even more complicated to deal with, but how you approach it is what matters the most. Whether your story feels big or small, we are all pioneering in our own ways, in our own stories.

Join the No Barriers Facebook Group & Pioneer With Others »

This article is part of an ongoing series that explores the No Barriers Life Elements in-depth. Find additional articles here:

January 16, 2020
No Barriers

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