Ep46: Finding Strength On the Road to Disability | with Chris Anselmo


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“Easy left a long time ago.”
– Chris Anselmo

The subject matter of disabilities, especially muscular dystrophy, is a subject matter near and dear to my heart. I spent eight years of my life producing and directing the documentary film GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story about the first quadriplegic to become a licensed scuba diver who was also a former national poster child for the muscular dystrophy association. In addition to many additional accomplishments such as becoming an honorary NASA astronaut and earning a law degree, Christopher Rush was also one of my best friends. Sadly the world lost Christopher in 2007 before I ever got the chance to really sit down and talk with him about how he developed the mental strength and courage to overcome such a debilitating disease and live a full life with optimism every day.

Luckily because of GO FAR I’ve met a lot of amazing and inspirational people, many of whom have reached out to me because of the film and how it inspired them. And this is what sparked today interview with my guest Chris Anselmo.

Chris Anselmo is a writer living with an adult-onset form of Muscular Dystrophy called Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2B. But here’s the catch: For the first 21 years of his life, Chris was an able-bodied, active young adult. Then one day, while going for a run, he noticed his muscles tiring out faster than normal. Over the next ten years, Chris experienced progressive, unrelenting muscle weakness, and today uses a wheelchair to get around.

In the beginning, Chris struggled to accept what was happening to him. In addition to getting weaker, he found himself depressed and questioning what he could still do in life. Over time, however, through trial and error, he was able to piece his life back together and learn how to dream again. And that’s what we’re going to dig into in this interview:

How can you develop a positive outlook and continue forging ahead in life when faced with extreme adversity?

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Recognizing when life is showing you an open door or a closed one
  • Learning and accepting that the dark years needed to happen
  • The paradigm shift of realizing you can no longer support your own body weight
  • Thinking forwards, not backwards (even if people think you’re crazy)
  • The unexpected power of asking for help
  • Learning to love when life throws you curveballs
  • How to seek out helpful role models in times of need
  • Determining what goals you can accomplish and moving forward one step at a time
  • Chris’s framework for dealing with adversity and how to keep your struggles in perspective

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Chris’s Blog: Sidewalks and Stairwells

Steve Jobs: How To Live Before You Die

OPT Podcast Ep20: Rewiring Your Brain to Be Happier with Shane Burcaw

Our Generous Sponsor:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

Guest Bio:

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Chris Anselmo is a 31-year-old Connecticut resident and writer living with an adult-onset form of Muscular Dystrophy called Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2B.

For the first 21 years of his life, Chris was an able-bodied, active young adult. Then one day, while going for a run, he noticed his muscles tiring out faster than normal. Over the next ten years, Chris experienced progressive, unrelenting muscle weakness, and today uses a wheelchair to get around.

In the beginning, Chris struggled to accept what was happening to him. In addition to getting weaker, he found himself depressed and questioning what he could still do in life. Over time, however, through trial and error, he was able to piece his life back together and learn how to dream again.

Chris holds a BS in Marketing from Northeastern University and an MBA from Boston College.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).


Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee, Shooter), a documentary director (GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story), father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”