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The Irish explorer who not only lost his complete sight when he was just 22 years old but also got paralysed from the neck down after an unfortunate fall in 2010, aligned his talk with the UAE's fabric of tolerance and spoke about how adversity and challenges helped him become more resilient, tolerant and achieve more.
Pollock lost his eyesight partially when he was just six due to acute short-sightedness issues and he went completely blind when he was 22. Unbroken by blindness in 1998, Pollock then became an adventure athlete competing in ultra-endurance races across deserts, mountains and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He also won silver and bronze medals for rowing at the Commonwealth Games and set up a motivational speaking business.
After he broke his back that left him paralysed, Pollock is now on a new expedition, this time to cure paralysis in our lifetime by exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Pollock talked about the importance of decision-making. "As human beings, we have to make certain choices - become a spectator or a competitor; become an optimist or a realist, or be a soloist or a collaborator.
"I advocate for being a competitor, which is not only about winning and losing. To be a competitor is all about your willingness to try as you pursue success in the knowledge that you are also at the risk of failing.
He then advocated becoming a realist to confront and accept facts of your current circumstances while keeping hope alive for a better future. "Acceptance and hope should always run in parallel," he said.
Pollock defined himself as a speaker, explorer and a collaboration catalyst. He also advised people to be collaborators than a soloist, as collaboration is required for huge breakthroughs. "We must have good collaborations across geographies and disciplines to make these big breakthroughs. Good decisions can be made when you do not feel threatened or psychologically unsafe and for this, we must operate in a culture of tolerance."
Pollock said one must always have a bigger cause/goal than oneself to attain fulfillment and happiness. "I get inspired by stories of exploration because those stories are typified by a goal that is bigger than the individual. In the aftermath of the paralysis again I have a very clear goal to attempt to find a way to cure paralysis in our lifetime for me and millions of people around the world who are going through some of the other kind of paralysis."
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