Zach Gowen Wows American Ninja Warrior

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June 13th, 2016 NBC aired amputee Zach Gowen’s run on American Ninja Warrior. Gowen wowed everyone as he took on the course. Just watch!

After watching you might think. “Great job Zach Gowen! But Zachary, what does this have to do with cerebral palsy?”

Fair question you. My analysis reveals three lessons that transcend amputees. Lessons you with cerebral palsy should find beneficial. You in the general disability community ought to also relate.


How does your disability impact you? Go ahead and answer. You might want to look around first. Make sure no one sees you talking to your device.

Kidding aside, what did your answer entail? Maybe some negatives. Perhaps you listed what you cannot do. You named disadvantages. Let me ask though. How can you leverage those into advantages?

At the second obstacle broadcaster Akbar Gbaja-Biamila explained an apparent disadvantage. With only one leg Gowen could not wrap himself snugly around the log roll. Go back a sentence and note a keyword, “apparent.”

Find a way to leverage a disadvantage into an advantage.Zach Gowen transformed the apparent disadvantage. Like Biamila’s broadcast partner Matt Iseman noted. “He used his leg to control the momentum of the log.”

Yep! Through strategical thinking Gowen removed “dis” from “disadvantage.” With the right mindset you can do the same. Think creatively. Determine how to use cerebral palsy to your advantage.

Unlike Baseball!

Before Zach Gowen could reach the log roll, he encountered difficulty. He literally found himself hung up. Rather than dropping from the rope, Gowen kept his grip. He retried not one time but FOUR TIMES. That fourth time he gained enough momentum to hit his landing.

In your life aspire to mirror Zach Gowen’s rope efforts. Keep your composure and battle past turbulence. Unlike baseball you get more than three strikes. If you stay in the metaphorical batter’s box, you possess a chance to succeed.  Go get them slugger!


No, I am not prolonging the baseball reference. Instead I am talking owning expectations. Lower expectations remains a major challenge for us in the disability community. Too often we end up underestimated.

An example emerged while Zach Gowen stood at the starting line. Matt Iseman remarked. “We’ve seen great athletes fall on this first obstacle. I think getting one step would be a huge victory.”

Despite innocent intentions, such expectations can harm. Accepting lower expectations leads to complacency. Consequently complacency stops you from fulfilling your complete potential. Prevent said fate. Show ownership in your life. Let no one but you define your expectations.

Zach Gowen's first claim to fame came as a professional wrestler.

Zach Gowen’s first claim to fame came as a professional wrestler. Photo: Mike Kalasnik (Used in compliance with the Creative Commons license)

Follow Zach Gowen’s Lead

Zach Gowen wowed on American Ninja Warrior. In the process he blazed a path. After Gowen fell on the third obstacle Matt Iseman stated. “We’ve talked about some unbelievable moments in American Ninja Warrior but seeing what Zach Gowen just did. It just defied expectations.”

Today stands our chance. Shall we follow Gowen’s path? Transform disadvantages into advantages. Keep trying during turbulent situations. Define our own expectations.

Now go forth and make your own unbelievable moments.




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