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Overcoming Adversity: How Stephen Hopson Opened the Runway for Deaf Pilots

Stephen Hopson
Our guest on the show today was Stephen Hopson, former Wall Street stockbroker turned pilot, author and speaker. We met Stephen at the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference. Once you meet him, you never forget him.

Stephen Hopson is the founder of Adversity University. He knows a lot about overcoming adversity. He’s been deaf since birth, but as he says, we all face our own adversity in life

A dream is born
As a young boy, Stephen said he had very low self-esteem. He had a hearing aid box that was strapped to his chest with cords running up to his ear. He was also very thin. But he was a boy with a dream … to be a pilot.

When he was just four- or five-years old, he saw a plane in the sky and knew he wanted to fly with the big boys. After much prodding, he convinced his mom to take him to the airport. It became a weekly event.

Upon arriving at the airport, Stephen would jump out of the car and run up to the fence. He would put his fingers on the fence and wait for a plane to come out. The minute he saw a plane, he would run back to the car and put his head on the hood, with his face looking out so he could see the plane take off.

When the plane took off, the little car would vibrate like a washing machine. That’s how Stephen heard the sound of a plane.

Living the dream
He didn’t pursue his dream until many years later. He completed college and went off to Wall Street. After fifteen years, he quit his career to pursue his dream of becoming a motivational speaker.

One day, he learned about other deaf pilots on his computer. He didn’t realize that deaf pilots had been flying since 1948. At that point, his childhood dream came roaring back to life!

He began looking for a flight instructor. Many of them weren’t aware that deaf pilots could fly. So they didn’t want to train him. Finally, Stephen found a willing instructor.

He could only fly on good weather days. Deaf pilots navigate by referencing landmarks – like cities, lakes, and highways. But when weather turned bad, deaf pilots were not allowed to fly.

Until 2006.

That’s when Stephen Hopson became the first deaf pilot to fly in bad weather. He says that flying in bad weather is like flying in a milk bottle because you can’t see where you’re going. So, as Stephen says, he became the first deaf and blind pilot! He thought about starting Helen Keller Airways!

Now other deaf pilots are following his footsteps. He says it’s very difficult to fly in bad weather because you have to communicate with your co-pilot, whose job is to translate what the controllers are telling them over the radio. The co-pilot writes it down on a dry erase board and then gives it to Stephen, which is very challenging.

What an amazing accomplishment! Look at the doors Stephen has opened for others.

Stephen’s H.E.A.R. Principle for overcoming adversity

Have a passion for what you do. Otherwise obstacles will seem difficult to overcome.

Entertain the possibilities that are available to you.

Authenticity. Be authentic; be who you are.

Remember who helped you.

We thank Stephen for sharing his inspirational story and his incredible insight with us today!

Our bigg quote today is by none other than Stephen Hopson himself.

“Establishing goals, visualizing myself achieving them, as well having faith that
it will all work out well are essential ingredients in overcoming … obstacles.”

So don’t let adversity keep you grounded … overcome it and soar to new heights.

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Believe and the Sky is Your Limit

By Bigg Success Staff

Timeless Principles

Do you believe you will succeed?

Really, truly believe it?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt believe it?

You must believe that you can succeed in order to succeed.

You have to believe that you can accomplish something in order to accomplish it.

You must believe that you can reach your goals in order to reach your goals.

You have to believe in yourself.

You must believe that you are in full control of your own destiny.

You have to believe that you, and you alone, determine your ultimate destination.

You must believe that you will persevere in order to persevere.

You have to believe that you will overcome so that you overcome.

You must believe that you can reach the sky in order for the sky to be your limit.


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Don’t Wait Until the Cougars Get Hungry

By 440 Dana Mancuso]
Bigg Success Contributor

Life Skills


There were two cougars. Somehow they had killed a tiger and eaten it.

Never mind that this was in a hotel that I was staying in and that the scenery kept changing.
And never mind that I was walking past these two cougars on tip toes down the long stairs to the lobby to call 911 on my cell phone. In fact, ignore completely that this was a dream I had, because there is a point coming up that makes more sense than cougars eating a tiger or being in a hotel.

So in this dream, I called 911 and told the man who answered about the two cougars on the loose. That they had eaten a tiger and were just wandering free around the hotel – scaring guests nearly to death.

Long story short, I had to hide in a hotel tub (which was now outside) and put some type of board over my head to keep away from the cougars. While in the tub I called the folks at 911 again. When are you going to come get these cougars? At least send someone to stun them!

Okay, here comes the part that will later make my point. They asked me if the cougars had eaten anyone else.

NO, I told them. Well then, they didn’t think they needed to come get the cougars yet. The cougars had just eaten a tiger, so they should be full for a while. 

As often happens in dreams, this one ended without any resolution. But come on, this one needs some resolution. Someone has to come get the cougars before they get hungry, right? And someone should have recognized on the other end of the phone that even full cougars are dangerous.

As I thought more about the dream, this seemed like a classic procrastination story. Wait until later. No need to tackle this problem now. The cats are fat and sassy! But wait a minute; how long do cougars stay fat and sassy once they’ve eaten? Most things in life aren’t going to jump out and eat you if you don’t deal with them. But not keeping up can really take a bite out of your day or your ego.

This dream made me look at procrastination (which I am great at in some cases) a little differently. I had never looked at procrastination as something dangerous both now AND later, like the cougars.

  • It is dangerous now because putting something off robs me of my sense of accomplishment. It robs me of peace of mind. Even if I put it off now and “put it out of my mind”, I still know it has to get done. And so it nags at the subconscious.
  • Later it robs me of time because I have to rush to get it done.

Dreams can help you work out your “awake life”. This one was a step in the right direction for me. Instead of siding with the 911 voice, I strongly opposed putting off catching the cougars and wanted to take action now. Not a bad anti-procrastination statement! Maybe next time I can catch the cougars and conquer procrastination forever? I’ll tell you what I find out. Anyone have a stun gun I can borrow?

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Success in Your Own Business Requires a Good Pit Crew

By Bigg Success Staff

Bigg Success in Business


Every driver in the Indy 500 realizes the importance of a great pit crew. A pit crew can mean the difference between victory and defeat. As the owner of your own business, you also need a good pit crew. You’re the driver, but your crew gives you the edge you need.

Your professional advisors are:

Your accountant
Your accountant will help you determine the best entity for your business, along with your attorney, for tax purposes. They will also help you set up your books so you know how you’re performing. They can help you determine your best tax strategies. They can refer you to other advisors and capital providers.

Your attorney
Your attorney will recommend the best entity in which to hold your business to minimize your liability and accomplish your goals. They will also help you understand the formalities that need to be maintained to protect your personal liabilities. They will advise you on your business dealings and help you when the unexpected situation arises. They can also refer you to other advisors and capital providers.

Your insurance broker

Your insurance broker will help you maintain adequate coverage for your assets and will also help you manage your risk. They will recommend the types of coverage you need as well as the level of coverage you should maintain. They will help you understand where your unexpected losses might occur and help you develop programs to reduce the risk of loss.

Your financial planner

Your financial planner will help you plan for your retirement. They will help you determine which plan is right for you, your company, and your employees. They will help you set up and maintain this plan. They can also help you determine the best allocation for the assets in your portfolio so you achieve the greatest return given the risk you’re willing to accept.

Your coaches

Your coaches will prod you on when you’re up and lend support when you’re down. They will give you someone to be accountable to so you accomplish what you set out to do. They will give you an outsider’s perspective – an objective look – at this business to which you’re so close. They will help you get to the next level of success.

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How Do I Find My Passion?

Bigg Challenge
Amy knows she’s not passionate about her career, but she doesn’t really know what she would love to do. She wants to know how to discover her passion.

Bigg Advice
We recommend that you get a notebook to write down your thoughts and answers to the following questions, Amy.

These things all revolve around one simple theme –

Look to the past to discover your future.

#1 – What did you want to be when you grew up?
Now you may think that’s a silly question to ask at this point in your life, but it’s not. Because it leads to the more important question …

Why? Why did you want to do that one thing when you grew up?

Mary-Lynn wanted to be a singing star. She wanted to be like Cher – up on stage performing in front of an audience with a microphone. Unfortunately, she couldn’t sing!

But today, she does perform in front of an audience with her very own microphone. It’s not exactly what she envisioned as a kid, but the elements are there.

#2 – What classes did you really enjoy?

You probably thrived in these classes. What were they, from grade school all the way up through college? And more importantly …

What about that particular class did you enjoy so much?

George loved philosophy – learning how to think logically and debate a subject. He’s used those skills his entire career. He has found that the work that’s most enjoyable to him often has to do with problem-solving.

#3 – What extracurricular activities did you love?

And more importantly, what did you love about that activity?

Mary-Lynn loved music. She loved being in the pep band and going to competitions. These additional benefits were a bonus to learning to play an instrument well. It appealed to her competitive nature and fulfilled her social needs.

#4 – What jobs or roles have given you the greatest satisfaction?
More importantly, what common themes were there?

George has been an entrepreneur and a teacher. As his career as a business owner advanced, he found that teaching and inspiring others was what he really enjoyed. He got great feedback about meetings he conducted. He also got positive reviews from his students. Today, Bigg Success gives him that outlet to share knowledge with others.

#5 – What is, or was, your favorite hobby?

What do you, or did you, do for free?

Mary-Lynn has loved writing since she was a kid. It taps into her creative side. That desire to be creative has guided her throughout her career. She once left a job because it didn’t offer creative freedom. Her need for creative control in her job spills over from her hobby. Being in touch with what you naturally do, even without pay, can help you discover your passion.

So as you ponder these five questions, think about the elements of the activity, rather than the activity itself, to discover your passion.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing your bigg challenge with us. We’re confident you’ll discover your passion soon!

If you have a bigg challenge, e-mail it to us at
What advice do you have for Amy? Click on the Comment link below

Our bigg quote today is by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who said,

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

So find your passion to uncover your greatness.

Next time, we’ll discuss what to do if working harder isn’t working anymore. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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