Mark Pollock is a celebrated TED speaker, explorer, and author. He is the first blind person who raced to the South Pole. Unbroken by blindness and paralysis, his mission is to inspire people to achieve more than they thought possible and help to find a cure for paralysis in his lifetime. In this episode, he shares his story about resilience, adaptability, acceptance, and collaboration.

Mark’s Story

“For me, that is what acceptance is all about confronting the brutal facts in a relatively unemotional way, just as facts, everything is what it is.” 

Mark lost his sight very suddenly at the age of 22. He learned to live and thrive with his condition, became an adventurer and explorer, and was racing to the South Pole. 10 years after going blind, he fell out of a window, broke his back, and became paralyzed. He faced immense uncertainty and had to completely rebuild his identity for the second time.

According to Mark, confronting the brutal facts was the starting point for his acceptance. As humans, we can’t cancel hope, however, the only way to actively move towards making real progress is to first confront the facts and accept them as they are. Hope and acceptance should be connected because hope by itself will not move us forward.

Mark shares with us how he worked towards acceptance and found his purpose.

The Mission Of Curing Paralysis

“Everything I do is about helping people to build resilience and collaborate with others so that together they achieve more than they thought possible.“

Mark’s mission is to explore the intersection of where humans and technology collide, and bring people together to cure paralysis in our lifetime. He worked towards finding that cure in the last 10 years.

Mark sees a really clear connection between racing to the South Pole and trying to cure paralysis, as both of these projects require storytelling, putting a great team together, financing, innovation, and some resilience to keep going. Even though he doesn’t want to race anymore these skills stayed with him.

However, according to him, there is a big difference in the exploration of the South Pole and curing paralysis, and that is the fragmented nature of the entire cure landscape. He sees this as a massive barrier to progress. This can only be solved with collaboration. Real collaboration needs authenticity, logic, and empathy. Although we all have one area that we are not that strong at but this is fixable.

How To Turn Your Challenges Into Possibilities

“Sometimes we have the luxury of choosing our challenges and sometimes challenges choose us. It's just part of being human, and what we decide to do about it, is what counts.”

According to Mark, although, we cannot always choose our challenges, we always have a choice about how we deal with them. We can decide to be spectators or competitors, optimists or realists, and soloists or collaborators. Mark’s advice is that regardless of the challenges, decide to be a competitor, a realist, and most importantly, decide to be a collaborator.

At the end of our interview, Mark shared with us what he learned from stoic philosophy, how we can implement this in our everyday life, and how to turn our challenges into possibilities.

Guided Reflection With Palma On Turning Your Challenges Into Possibilities 

We hope you enjoyed the interview with Mark Pollock. Now join us for a short guided reflection to turn your challenges into opportunities.

1. Is there anything you see fresh or new after listening to this conversation with Mark?

2. Now, we invite you to pick a challenge you are currently facing in your life. What is your challenge? And while thinking about this challenge, are you a spectator or a competitor?

3. If you are a spectator, what is the smallest step you could take today to step into the arena and become a competitor?

4. Thinking about your situation, what is the best possible outcome that could happen?

5. Now, thinking about your current situation as your starting point, what are the hard facts about the situation in the present moment? We invite you to just accept them.

6. Looking at the hard facts and the dream outcome of the situation, what is the next obvious step you could take right now? Don’t think about any of the other steps, just this first step.

7. Lastly, ask yourself, are you a soloist or a collaborator in this situation? If you feel like a soloist, who is someone that could help you right now? Who could you turn to for advice? Who could you collaborate with in your current situation?

We would love to hear from you about your experience with this exercise or about any insights you had while listening to Mark in our FACEBOOK GROUP. 

About Our Guest Mark Pollock

Mark Pollock is an international motivational speaker, explorer, and author from Ireland who became the first blind man to race to the South Pole. Unbroken by blindness in 1998 and a paralyzing fall in 2010, Mark is acknowledged by leaders in organizations worldwide as an expert in resilience, innovation, and collaboration.

After conquering the South Pole, now he is on a new expedition, this time to cure paralysis in our lifetime by exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide.

As a speaker, Mark is best known for his 2018 TED Talk focused on resolving the tension between acceptance and hope delivered jointly with his fiancée, Simone George. He has inspired millions of people in hundreds of organizations and is a Davos, World Economic Forum, InnoTown, F.ounders, EG, and Wired speaker.

Everything Mark does as a motivational speaker is about inspiring people to build resilience and collaborate with others so that they achieve more than they thought possible.

Special thanks to Mark Pollock for taking the time to share his inspiring story with us.

Continue Your Journey

Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website, palmamichel.com.

Learn to meditate with Palma on the MUSE brain-sensing device and receive a 15% discount (will be shown at checkout only) with this link


Thank You

Thank you for joining us on this journey of the Explorer’s Mind Podcast.

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Until next time, We truly appreciate you listening and look forward to continuing this journey together.