Jessica Cox Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Jessica Cox
Jessica Cox is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview.
She is a truly remarkable and nothing short of inspirational lady for sure.
Born without arms due to a birth defect, and fighting every day to live a normal “if there is such a word as normal” she touches the world.
With her passion and spirit for adventure and life Jessica Cox is pure inspiration.
As she says “Despite being born without arms, I live a normal life.
I have had to overcome the inherent challenges and limited perceptions of other people.
I have never let fear stand in my way in any aspect of my life. I don’t believe in I cant”
And how many of us can honestly say the same thing?
How Did The Dots Join Up For Jessica?
From a small child wanting desperately to join the other kids climbing on the monkey bars
To gaining entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as The first woman to fly an air-plane with her feet.
Yes she is now Jessica Cox pilot, and from every corner of the globe she has received recognition’s and achievements from across the world due to her ability to not give an inch.
Even obtaining a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, as at the tender age of 10 ten years old Jessica began training in taekwondo at a school in her home town of Sierra Vista.
Amazingly, at least it seem from the outside that at the age of 14, she quickly earned her first black belt.
Now she is not just known as Jessica Cox pilot, or Jessica Cox taekwondo expert, but she is also developing a love of scuba diving too.
From her home in Tucson Arizona she is a on a mission .
A mission to change all of our minds as to the true meaning of disability.
She believes in the words life is “10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you deal with it”
So how did she overcome the self-esteem issues that haunted her as a young lady?
And has she found anything that has stopped her in her tracks?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Jessica Cox
Jessica Cox Show Highlights
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Jessica Cox such as:
How there was so much frustration earlier in her life due to how others perceived what she could and couldn’t do…..especially in regards to a common playground slide
Why she decided in college to turn away from the studies she had started to focus her aspect on psychology and motivational speaking.
How she spent her life trying to keep out of the spotlight so had to overcome years of conditioning to step onto the stages of the world and show the true Jessica.
Why she learnt to overcome her greatest fears by tackling them head on.
How she believes that her life was destined to change other peoples lives, and wouldn’t go back in time to gain arms if this was possible to do.
Please Support The Making Of Rightfooted, A Documentary Film About Jessica Cox by donating here
How To Connect With Jessica Cox
Return To The Top Of Jessica Cox
If you were inspired by the conversation with Jessica Cox, then why not check out other motivational and fun conversations with Chris Miles, Caspar Craven, Brad Hart and Felicity Aston to name just three.
Every other episode to enjoy and consume can be found at Join Up Dots Podcast Archives
Audio Transcription Of Jessica Cox Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello everybody and welcome to Episode Two, One a free of Join Up Dots. Yes is another motivational powerhouse. We’re going to deliver to you today, just what you’ve come to expect seven days a week from the show. Now, let’s introduce you to today’s guest. She is a truly remarkable and nothing short of an inspiration. born without arms due to a birth defect and fighting every day to live a normal life is such a word as normal life. She touches the world with her passion and spirit for adventure. And she says despite being born without arms, I live a normal life I’ve had to overcome the inherent challenges and limited perceptions of other people. I’ve never let fear stand in my way in any aspect of my life. I don’t believe in I can’t. And how many of us can honestly say the same thing. From a small child wanting desperately to join the advocates climbing on the monkey bars to gaining entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. As the first woman to fly an aeroplane with her feet. She has received recognition and achievements from across the world due to her ability to not give an inch, even obtaining a black belt in Taekwondo and developing a love of scuba diving from my home. in Tucson, Arizona, she’s on a mission to change all of our minds as to the true meaning of disability. Believing in the words life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you deal with it. So how did she overcome the self esteem issues that haunted her as a young lady in how she found anything that really has stopped her in her tracks? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots, the one and only Jessica Cox, how are you, Jessica?
Jessica Cox [2:05]
Wonderful, thank you for having me on the show.
David Ralph [2:08]
It is a lovely to have you on the show, because you are, you know, I’m not going to sort of beat around the bush, you are truly inspirational to me, and I know that the listeners will feel the same way. When you meet people, you know, do they have a shocked by how much you use that word, but normal that you are doesn’t that doesn’t seem to be any airs and graces, you’re just a lady getting on with her life to the best of our ability,
Jessica Cox [2:35]
I have to admit, initially there is a little bit of an awkward moment when I’m meeting people for the first time that they for one, they don’t know if they should offer their hand because obviously I don’t have a hand to shake with. Or they don’t know if I’m going to pull my foot out of my shoe and shake their hand. And so a lot of times, sometimes I catch that little bit of awkwardness that happens. I always tell them, you know, this happens all the time. Don’t worry about it, I figured out a way how to handle greeting someone for the first time. And oftentimes, if they want to give me a hug, I receive a hug or they want to just do whatever, they feel comfortable. I’m fine with it. But it’s in all honesty, there’s that little bit of awkwardness at the beginning, how do
David Ralph [3:18]
you advise somebody because I was watching some videos of you and I saw you doing an amazing presentation. And at the end, you were standing at the door saying goodbye to everyone and they were coming out and sort of tapping their foot on your third. Do you have to tell people to do that? Or do they just kind of guess, but that’s the way to do it.
Jessica Cox [3:37]
Yes, at my motivational talks, one of the first things I opened up with is talk about how I have learned to greet people when meeting them. And I do what’s called a foot five, and they hold their foot out and I hold my foot out and we just tap each other at the soul of our feet. And that is what is makes it easier to connect with people without actual physical touch. And that is is is a unique way of greeting someone who doesn’t have hands.
David Ralph [4:04]
But they certainly more uncomfortable than you’re uncomfortable. You’re obviously in a situation when you’re dealing with this every day. Are there some people that you’ve actually got to go, really just just sort of calm yourself down, there’s that don’t worry, you know, you’ll get over it, but just just live you live your life and now live my life and we’re we’re work well together.
Jessica Cox [4:24]
It’s funny, because the first 10 minutes of a meeting with someone it is that little awkwardness and, and how to deal with it, or oh my gosh, she really doesn’t have any arms. And then after the first 10 minutes, they see past that they’re able to warm up to me in a way. And I think it’s also because I’m very comfortable in my own skin. They see that, you know, I find that this I’m happy this way. And this is the way God has made me. And I’m very fully accepting. And so when they see that they forget that I don’t have arms. And there are many people that come up to me and tell me you know, when I first met you was a little awkward. After those first few minutes, I forgot you to have arms.
David Ralph [5:03]
Good because you aren’t comfortable in your own skin on you. You are so comfortable. And I’ve been grappling I had a conversation with a lady I don’t know if you know her called Caroline Casey, who is a lady who is doing a lot of work encouraging companies around the world to accept and, and really develop a programme for blind employees. And when I was talking to her, she’s blind. But it seemed to me that that she was more likely to achieve because of that issue van she would have done beforehand. And because you’re tackling constantly on a daily basis to do even the most simplest things, does it bring out a strength in you which in your heart parts was always bear or had has it developed because of the issues you’ve got to deal with on a daily basis.
Jessica Cox [5:55]
I think it’s part partly because it is who it is about who I am. No arms or with arms. It’s part of my spirit. It’s about who I am, and much like my mother in that regard. But in other ways, too, I see that it’s been built up. It’s something that because as a six year old, I had to learn how to tie my shoes without any help, I started to develop these creative ways of approaching challenges and obstacles of not giving up of having endurance. And for me that has built up to allow me to accomplish even bigger challenges in life as I grew older.
David Ralph [6:31]
Are you surprised that some of those things don’t a six year old doing their shoe laces? I’ve seen what you do. And it’s astonishing. It’s beyond astonishing that you know, you can use the computer you can play the piano with your feet. And it’s absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine how you can do shoelaces and things. It was a struggle to get my children to do it. And they saw they’ve got the hands and this sort of normal dexterity that you would expect. How have you learned to do that people? Are you tying it up with your feet because your shoes, you’re putting your shoes in on you. So what are you using to tie your laces,
Jessica Cox [7:08]
I always talk about how I had to learn to keep my feet outside the shoe. And with the normal dexterity that other children having their fingers I had in my feet and still have in my toes. Because I’ve done this my entire life since day one, it was my way of connecting with the world exploring with the world was using my toes using my feet to feel around to grab ahold of something, bring it within reach. Those were things that came out of adaptation. And so when it came to tying my shoes, aside from the having to figure out that I had to keep my feet outside the shoe. And that was different from all the other children. Doing the actual physical tying of the laces was something that that was pretty normal for me as it as it is for any other child learning to tie the laces.
David Ralph [8:00]
I’m sorry to sort of keep going on. But my mouth, my brain is sort of blowing up on here. If your feet are in the shoe, what are you using to tie up the lace, because there’s going to be a pavement, both shoe both feet are sort of restricted on that.
Jessica Cox [8:12]
I should probably clarify on that I have both feet outside of the shoe. Take the laces one lace with my right foot. The other laced with the left title aces first, and then my feet in I do that for both shoes before slipping my feet inside.
David Ralph [8:29]
You say you’re clever lady, you see, I would have spent hours trying to work that out. So you so you do preparation? And see it seems perfect when you say that.
Jessica Cox [8:39]
I call it thinking outside the shoe
David Ralph [8:40]
thinking outside of shape. And that’s kind of your branding now, isn’t it? I’ve seen that all over the place thinking outside the shoe. When when we’re working with Join Up Dots, we go back and forth. It that’s the part of the show. So if you went back in time, was there a passion in your life? Obviously now you’re you’re doing amazing things and you’re doing things that for many people seem to be beyond them. But you’re just taking them head on and and beating them. So when you was a little Jessica, was there a dream to be, you know, a ballerina or a teacher or something? What What was the kind of dream that little Jessica had?
Jessica Cox [9:20]
There was a lot of frustration and anger, I think dealing with being different. And one of the things that really bothered me as a younger child was being limited by labels and being called handicapped, or, Oh, she can’t do anything, she doesn’t have arms. And that built for me, it built up the passion of wanting to do something to prove that I can do it. And and show the world that yes, you know, I don’t have arms, I don’t have hands. But I can actually do these things, even without them. And that was something that built up as a child and carried on through adulthood. Having to prove that I can accomplish it and prove this, I can do it. And I realised though that at some point, I was gonna have to stop having to prove to the rest of the world and do something, because I really wanted to do it.
David Ralph [10:11]
So So what was your dream as a small child, if I sat you down as I, Jessica, when you grow up? You want to be what would you have said
Jessica Cox [10:22]
I wanted to be a doctor as a five, six all the way up through to high school, I was driven to become a doctor and help people and I think it was the the most important part was the helping aspect and being able to help other people give back to the help that I received my entire life. And I went through college being I was a pre med student. So I took all the sciences and all the math and organic chemistry and everything you need to become a doctor. And then it was about junior year of college when I realised that I loved psychology. And I loved how psychology gave a lot of credit to the way we think, our attitude and how it impacts our life, even more so than our own physical constraints. And so for me that connexion with psychology, I decided to change my major, I went ahead and got a Bachelor of Science in psychology. And by my senior year, I decided to apply the psychology to being a motivational speaker. And that’s where I started out as a motivational speaker fresh out of college, and have now been doing it for close to 10 years.
David Ralph [11:28]
So so you do firmly believe that it’s all in our minds is we are restricted by our beliefs more than our physical characters.
Jessica Cox [11:41]
I do I really do this show que
David Ralph [11:45]
Bo, but because I agree with that, as well, I see it on a daily basis. I see people like yourself doing amazing things. And I see people like myself, can’t even grasp how you can do your shoe laces up. So that that is a mindset thing, isn’t it? You’re seeing these obstacles and going, I’m just going to get past Bose and somebody like myself and the world I suppose, kind of instantly slip into how’s that going to be done? How is that possible? We look for the the kind of normal ways of doing things and can’t see outside the shoe as you’re doing
Jessica Cox [12:21]
that then what came out of necessity, because I didn’t have arms, that creative way of thinking of ingenuity and resourcefulness that helps me all throughout life. And I always think I love to say that I don’t use the words I can’t. Because if we say we can’t do it, we’ve already set ourselves up for failure. But if we say change, I can’t to I can I will, I will try and figure it out, then there’s a lot more room for possibility because our language becomes reality.
David Ralph [12:53]
And when you say about two people, do they go? Yes. Yeah, I can see about totally did is a mindset shift when you’re talking to them? Or do you see that? after year upon year upon year of saying the words I can’t, I won’t. It’s so locked in. But it’s going to take more of a motivational speech or a film or a book to really change these people’s perceptions?
Jessica Cox [13:17]
Well, I know that there’s an experience that people have, when they see me speaking, they initially see me walk on stage. And they’re really focused on the fact that Wow, she doesn’t have arms, and they see what I don’t have. But by the end of the speech, they see they see all that I have, and that thinking outside the shoe positivity, desire, persistence, and fearlessness, those things far outweigh the actual reality of me not having the physical arms
David Ralph [13:48]
up. Yeah, I can see that totally. I’ve been watching these videos, and I don’t believe is nothing but you can’t do you know, I just been whatever you put your mind to you can do. And I’ll be on this would be Jessica, I spend my life looking at people in the real world, not through the show. Through the show, it seems that everyone seems to have a similar mindset to yourself. But in the real world. few and far between a few and far between, I would look at people and they will give me reasons why they can’t do stuff. They will tell me time frames, why they can’t do things, they will tell me responsibilities, why they can’t do things. But when it comes to actually doing it, they don’t. It’s a shame, isn’t it?
Jessica Cox [14:29]
It really is, it’s a lot easier to come up with an excuse, it takes less energy than actually going and trying to do it and figure it out. So it’s an easy thing to fall into is just come up with an excuse. You don’t have to put out the energy. And you know, something that I think Normally, it may be easy to fall into that trap.
David Ralph [14:48]
when when when you do stand up there and you talk to people, do people come up to you afterwards and sort of say, you know, thank you so much for that? Or do they quietly walk out lost in their own minds have lost opportunities and times that they really didn’t grasp what they had in front of them?
Unknown Speaker [15:07]
Well, what that’s the last thing I want people to walk away with this for people feel like they’ve wasted their life, they haven’t accomplished enough. And that’s the last thing I’m up there. And that’s the last thing I want people to take away. And what I want them to take away is that there are so many more possibilities, they can start living their life in a different way in a creative way. And that’s what I hope they can take away.
David Ralph [15:32]
If we come right back to the little girl because the debate pulled my hamstring the other day when I was watching this video, I think you made it for the United Kingdom. I think it was part of the BBC focus on you was the bit when you wanted to climb on the monkey bars as a small child and the other kids were swinging. And you look to the info, how am I going to do that? It didn’t come across in the video that you did actually work out how to do that did did you move on to the monkey bars and join him with the other kids,
Unknown Speaker [16:04]
the monkey bars and the slide where they they remained the goal on the playground for me because I saw kids, especially the slide climbing up the ladder and sliding down. And there were many times where I run up to the ladder of the slide ready to try and tackle this big 12 was about 10 foot slide. The I’m just being kept from people would run over and and stop me from trying to climb up the slide. And finally, one day I said I’m going to do this. And when when people were out of sight, I started to climb up the ladder using my chin to hold my upper body using my chin shoulder to hold my upper body on this ladder. And I made my way up to the top. And I think it wasn’t until I got to the top when the adults on the playground saw that I was up there and they ran to me. And it was too late. At that point, of course, I just slid down the slide. And I felt that accomplishment that I that I conquered the slide that I’ve been wanting to go on for so long.
David Ralph [17:06]
And how old were you when you did that?
Jessica Cox [17:09]
That’s probably maybe first or second grade, first or second grade of school. So probably six or
David Ralph [17:16]
seven or eight years old. And when he was at the top of the slide I imagine the emotion must have been amazing that you that you got there did climbing up there. I know it’s a long time ago but climbing up there. Were you scared to start? Or were you scared halfway out? Because it is precarious, isn’t it if you’re climbing up a ladder holding on with your chin, it only needs and you can see one of the parents were worried you can totally see that. But I can also see why you wanted to do it. Because why the hell should you miss out on something that looks like fun.
Jessica Cox [17:48]
I think a huge part of the accomplishment was the fact that I got away with it. They didn’t stop me from getting that far. And, and being able to do that on my I own that sense of independence was what propelled me to do that and being there at the top. It was very it was incredible feeling that oh, I can do this. And and I I can be like everyone else and be up here
David Ralph [18:14]
was it was that one of the first times when you fall Yes, I can be like everyone else.
Jessica Cox [18:22]
It was probably one of the most important experiences like that. And I also made a decision when I was in eighth grade, I worked fake arms to school almost every day and for 11 years. And I decided on the first day of eighth grade, at the age of 14 years old that I was going to make a very important decision in my life. I was going to leave the fake arms behind. And I walked to the bus stop feeling freer, more empowered than ever felt. But even more importantly, I was finally going to be the person I was born to be the person God created me to be. And that independence is empowerment far outweighed anything that was going to happen that day, even if I was gonna be made fun of which was act to happen. It really I waited, I felt this sense of self and acceptance that was unlike anything else. And from that day forward. I decided I would never wear them again. And to this day they remain in the closet.
David Ralph [19:22]
Why? Why did you do that? Because that is a really brave decision, especially at school because school kids around the world are known for being me not like they will find somebody slightly different, whether they’re overweight, whether they’ve got ginger hair, whether they’ve got whatever, and they will focus in on it. So why did you feel it was so important to put yourself in that position to finally go? No, this is who I am. This is how I was born. Get over it. I’ve got over it. It’s my life.
Jessica Cox [19:53]
It was very uncomfortable. And I felt very dishonest when I wasn’t the person I was born to be. It actually required more effort, more work and a lot more discomfort to try and fulfil this role of being someone wearing fake arms. It was a lot easier. It made my life easier being honest with myself, and just make that decision made my life happier.
David Ralph [20:21]
Did people know that you were wearing fake arms?
Jessica Cox [20:24]
They did they they don’t look like real arms and hands. It’s very obvious that they’re fake. But if you have a long sleeve sweater over them, you can easily pass I easily pass this having arms when the sweater fabric would cover certain the entire arm and just like I was someone with arm so it was easy. It was easy to fool fool someone.
David Ralph [20:51]
But what what did your mom and dad thing because you must have had the conversation with your mom and dad, I imagine I’m assuming that Mom, I’m going to leave the at home today I’m going to go as Jessica to school.
Jessica Cox [21:04]
Yes, they they supported me in my decisions. I think it was a point in my life where they felt like I was grown up enough to make that decision on my own. And I was very unfortunate to have I was blessed with some wonderful parents my life and my dad has always said he’s never once shed a tear about my birth condition. He has never seen me as a victim. And my mother is always been there to tell me that I can do anything. And with God, I can do anything. And so she was always that support for me. So I think that they they supported my decision. And they they knew that it was important to me.
David Ralph [21:42]
Was that belief, the nurturing, but you need it because on the film I saw you was quite openly saying that you had a lot of self esteem issues. And I can totally understand why you did it is no surprise to me. But the fact that when you went home your mom and dad was social pulled it up. And so loving was about the sort of nurturing but really allowed the true Jessica we’re seeing today to to flourish, even if you kind of suppressed it a bit when you went to school when you got home. Did that allow you to be who you were?
Jessica Cox [22:14]
Absolutely. I think I’ve been truly blessed with wonderful parents. They loved me unconditionally. And they they just gave me that environment that I needed to blossom into the person I am today. And if it wasn’t for that foundation that they created for me that support, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.
David Ralph [22:34]
You feel that strongly do? Yes. What Why? Why? Why do you feel that that you wouldn’t be but Jessica, because it is obviously in you and the fact that on a daily basis. Your mom and dad aren’t around now, but you’re married and you’re living with your husband and stuff. You know, you’re not seeing them? It’s it’s in you anyway, isn’t it? They just kind of allowed but to come out?
Jessica Cox [22:56]
Yes, I think it was just a matter of time. And it was something that was I see that, you know, part of me is is something I was born with. And it was something that was just a matter of time it was going to come out and is going to be honest. And they help foster that in a way that allowed it to be sooner because every one of us is on our own journey to that self acceptance, I think. And it’s all in our own time. And so for me, it was easier when I did have the support that I did have. And and they were a huge part of that, which I was fortunate to have. And and also my also family, friends and family members as well.
David Ralph [23:37]
I think it’s fascinating what you said, and it’s so true about all of us on our journey for self acceptance. All of us are looking to be our authentic self, aren’t we and really play to our strengths. But unfortunately, for so many people, they play a role they play a role on a daily basis of what’s expected of them what their parents want them to be, what their work colleagues want him to be what their boyfriend gay want them to be an actually taking control of their own life and allowing themselves to be free almost seems selfish somehow. And so they don’t do it. Do you? Do you see that in your world?
Jessica Cox [24:13]
I do. I do see that. And it’s kind of, it’s hard to see it because I was there. And I know what it’s like all of us were there, I’m sure at some point. And it’s, you know, it’s just takes that little bit of courage sometimes to step outside of that outside of what’s comfortable, and make that leap. And and then you know, once you make that leap, though, there’s no turning back. And it’s an incredible decision that each of us has to make. And once we’ve made that decision, though we don’t we don’t go back to what it was before.
David Ralph [24:48]
And that’s the theme of this whole show. really finding your authentic self. This show isn’t about making people entrepreneurial base is about making people happy. And I believe one the easiest ways of being happy is being yourself, and playing to your strengths and finding a role in life that plays to your strengths and you love doing now you’ve obviously found your thing is quite evident, you found your thing. But I want to play some words that we play every day. And this is by a gentleman called Jim Carrey, the actor. And he said these words recently in a speech, and so powerful, but I just loved him. So I want to see what you think as well, Jessica, this is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [25:29]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [25:55]
Now, you’re sort of big.in life ties up with bat, you’re at college you’re studying, and then you suddenly realise but actually, it’s not what makes you happy. You know, you don’t you don’t want to be a doctor anymore. It’s psychology is helping people. It’s finding ways of inspiring becoming motivational. Did you take a risk, just like Jim Carrey said, Did you take a risk on doing something that you love? Or was it something that you just felt drawn to? Maybe you love it now, but at that time you just felt drawn towards it?
Jessica Cox [26:30]
I definitely consider your college felt drawn to it, it, it was definitely something that wasn’t predictable, there is no way of knowing what kind of income I could get if I could live off with this job. And it was something though that was calling to me. And it was almost it was worth worth the risk of, of not being able to, you know, pay the bills and having to get a second job a small time, part time job. It was all worth it because of that calling that had been that had happened, right? When I was making that switch in the psychology, I realised that this is something that I’ve been blessed with, and why not go and run with it.
David Ralph [27:13]
And so you you felt those same fears, but so many people do, how am I going to pay the bills? Is this just a dream? Should I get a job, work in an office just go the corporate route, the sensible route, but you felt no, this is worth doing it. And I’m going to overcome those challenges, like all the other challenges I’ve overcome in my life.
Jessica Cox [27:34]
Yes, that’s what I decided to do. And I knew that, that it was going to be better than having to do something that I don’t love. And it was worth it.
David Ralph [27:45]
It’s always worth it, isn’t it. And that’s the key thing. It’s always worth doing something that you love. But I spent years doing stuff I didn’t love. And I look back on it. And I think what the hell was I doing? Why was I doing that? And yes, I was on a career, I thought it was a good job. But I look back on it. And really, I didn’t like it at all. And I did about 25 years. So as a young lady like yourself, you really feel that it was a blessing to find your big quite early on. And it was quite early on, wasn’t it really in college to decide where you wanted to go? Most people will have left, got a job, maybe got another job, and then felt lost for a while and struggled. But at college, you you saw your thing and you lays it on to it.
Jessica Cox [28:31]
Yes, it was my first speech as a sophomore in high school when I went to speak to a group of underprivileged high school student, junior high school students who were seventh grade. And I was sharing my storey and somehow they resonated with my own challenges. And because it was very visual, I could stand up there. And they saw it very clearly they didn’t have arms, they could connect with that and resonate with their own challenges. And I saw that that was actually a gift. And it was something that I could use to connect with people.
David Ralph [29:04]
Were you scared when you stood up in front of them, because obviously, they were small children. But were you scared to actually be the focus in the room,
Jessica Cox [29:13]
I spent my entire life up to that point, avoiding the focus, because that was something that was out of my control, I’d be I’d walked by groups of people, and they would do what I call the second take, they look at me once and like oh my gosh, she doesn’t have arms, they looked at me again. And I did everything in my life to avoid that being stared at being the spotlight. And having people whisper about me being different. And I did everything I could. And sometimes it was actually more energy to do everything I could to avoid being the spotlight, then just accepting myself. And, and so for that speech, I remember, here I was going to be the spotlight and talking about everything that I didn’t like everything that that drew attention to me and that I was trying to fight against. And finally, for the first time sharing my life in a genuine way like that was there’s something empowering about that it was it allowed me to accept me as well. And that’s why speaking not only became inspiration to other people, but it allowed allowed it to be therapy for my own self acceptance.
David Ralph [30:26]
It’s fascinating when you say that, because I say the same word doing this show. But every day I have these conversations with remarkable inspirational people like yourself. And as you’re talking, you obviously reflect on your own situation. And I call this therapy. Every day for 213 days, I’ve been in therapy, thinking to myself, why didn’t I do more with my life? Why haven’t I done this? Why haven’t I done that? I wish I had I wish I was in that room with those children when you first walked in there. And I was about age, because I think I would have been prime to your message. And I think children at that age, they are prime. And they they like people to be different don’t like little kids like it, it’s when we become adults. But we will do a double take or trying not to pay attention. Or try to look like we didn’t notice all that kind of stuff. But little kids will just ask honest genuine questions, because they’re fascinated with the content that you’re sharing.
Jessica Cox [31:26]
I love children they are, they’re curious, they come up to me, even in a grocery store, they’ll come up with this very curious look on their face and saying, you know, why don’t you have arms? Or? Or, you know, how do you do things and they just have the best questions you could ever possibly get. And I think it’s the only time when I think it’s an unfortunate situation is when the parents will pull them away and say, you know, Oh, don’t bother that lady. She’s, you know, she’s busy, or they’ll hush their child. And I always say, you know, let them ask, let them come up to me. Because we’re all here to learn. And if they learned from me, why does it I’m different, then they’ll be okay with other people who are different, and themselves as well.
David Ralph [32:11]
You know, I’m a parent, and I, I would love my children to ask you those questions. But I can totally see what the parents are doing. It’s not that they are in, they just don’t want their children to be rude. Because that’s not the kind of thing as adults, we would just come up and ask. So I can totally understand that. But it’s it’s a viewpoint that we need to overcome as well is your acceptance of the questions should be the key point to the parent, isn’t it to say, okay, children, ask what you want, and then we’ll move on to the complex but asked what you want?
Jessica Cox [32:46]
Yes, then they can move past that difference and get to the real person. And but if they’re always uncomfortable, and no, he’s curious, and they don’t have that answer, then they’re not, they’re getting hung up on those superficial things, and are unable to see the person for who they are. But if they can get past it, they get past the difference. They can understand it’s okay to be different. She’s comfortable with her difference. I’m comfortable asking questions, then it makes the whole situation a learning experience.
David Ralph [33:19]
The best questions that kids have asked you and Jessica, when you say that they always ask you that the greatest questions,
Jessica Cox [33:25]
oh, what one of the teenagers just the other day was speaking in Switzerland. And she came up to me and I was I was thinking she was wise beyond her years. So like, Do you ever get annoyed by the fact that people applaud you for doing the normal things that we do with our hands? And I thought that was such a great question. Because I told her I said, you know, it would be easy for me to get annoyed by that, because this is so ordinary for me to grab a fork and, and eat my lunch. But people look at that in our inspired. And it would be so easy for for me to be annoyed in on a regular basis, getting those type of reactions. But I realised in my own eyes that this is the first time they’ve ever seen that, that someone’s ever grabbed a fork with their toes between the big toe and second toe and eight and have lunch there, right in front of them. And so for them, it’s a new experience. And I have to treat each encounter as if this is a new experience for someone. And at the same time, it’s also a learning experience for them that that is the question.
David Ralph [34:31]
But I wish I had asked that that. That was almost a question that’s been in my mind for a few days knowing but I was going to speak to you, when I saw you playing the piano with your feet and doing the mouse and doing all those kind of things. I thought to myself, that’s amazing. But of course, I shouldn’t have thought that was amazing. I should have just bought cheese cheese using a mouse. She’s playing the piano. So I can totally see why she asked that question. And I wish I’d asked that same question because that is fundamental to it, isn’t it? Why are we so impressed that you can fly an aeroplane? You’ve learned to fly an aeroplane, whether you’re using your feet or whatever? The challenge of doing that is bigger than how you’ve done it, I suppose.
Jessica Cox [35:14]
Exactly, yes. And I always say even greater than the challenge of flying an aeroplane being the first person to do with my feet was that journey of self acceptance. And that in itself was the greater challenge.
David Ralph [35:31]
So I understand but you learn to drive a car with your feet, moving things around, obviously must have been an automatic or whatever. You passed your test. And when they took it back and they said you can’t drive? Is that still the case? Now? Are you allowed to drive now? Or did they keep it and keep it and not allow it to go on any further.
Jessica Cox [35:50]
I drove this morning I drive every day and no one has stopped me. And I think if they were to stop me, I would definitely put up a fight realising that this is is not right. And unfortunately, people have been very encouraging. One of the things I love to talk about is, even when I show up at rental car, offices ready to pick up a rental car because I do a lot of travelling. And they see me at the counter and I’m there I grab my ID, my driver’s licence and my credit card, I pull it out of my person. And I put it up there on the counter and tell them I have a reservation. But they can’t argue with me, because I have everything that they need in order to hand over the keys for a rental car. But in in their mind, I know that they probably have this question of how is she going to do this? Is this going to be okay? And those those experiences are always fun. But with a valid driver’s licence, they can’t argue and I I take the keys and drive away in the car. So so they didn’t refuse
David Ralph [36:47]
you I had read somewhere. But you’ve gone through all the tests, and you passed it fair enough. And then they said, No, you can’t.
Jessica Cox [36:54]
I did. I went through a normal test. And they suspended the licence. Because they felt as though I needed to have special equipment put on the vehicle. And when I went in a month later with the special equipment because I wanted my licence back, I did the second test with a different examiner with a special equipment. And he saw that I could drive with the equipment, I asked him if I could go ahead and show him by taking off this equipment that I could drive just as well even better without it. And of course, I demonstrated even better driving skills without the modifications of the special equipment. And my licence was reinstated.
David Ralph [37:36]
And once again, you’ve never looked back. But until you started flying an aeroplane, how how did that come about? Was it something that you’d always wanted to do? Or was it a challenge once again, that you felt Yeah, I’m going to prove myself and I’m going to prove to other people that I can be the first lady to do this kind of thing.
Jessica Cox [37:55]
Well, flying in an aeroplane, losing contact with the ground was always a fear. For me, it had been a fear. Every time I stepped on a commercial plane since the first time I did as a young little girl, I was just terrified, just this whole concept of flying in the air. And it was my greatest fear to be in an aeroplane. And I thought what better way to conquer that and to help other people conquer their own fears than by doing what it is I feared most. And I became a pilot and I in the process overcame those initial fears that I had, and learned. I think the fear allowed me to become a very good pilot because it helps kept me on my toes and always knowing that, you know, something could happen, I have to be prepared. And it brought the best sense of focus out of me. But even most importantly, I was able to overcome something that was terrifying to me at one point,
David Ralph [38:52]
because I don’t understand and I’ve never understood why people have fears and need to conquer things when it doesn’t come into their life. You know, if you’re scared of being in an aeroplane, when don’t go in an aeroplane, if you’re scared, I used to work with a lady who was terrified of sharks. So she said, I’ve got to go down to South Africa to go down into a cage. And I used to think, well, if he’s terrified, the sharks don’t go anywhere near the water, just sort of walk around the streets. And it’s very rare when you’re walking down the shopping mall, but you hear behind it never gonna happen. But you felt strongly that a fear was there to to be turned into a positive you couldn’t have allowed that to happen, that being scared in an aeroplane would have affected your life.
Jessica Cox [39:41]
Yes, I I heard this phrase from someone, once they told me that fear f e a r stands for false evidence appearing real. And I love that because I learned. While I wonder why I was afraid of flying. What was it for me, I think it related a lot to the fear of the unknown. And not knowing how it is that an aeroplane is in the sky. And learning all that as a student pilot, I was able to overcome that, that fear of the unknown, and learn more about it and aerodynamics and how does an aeroplane stays in the sky, and then helps me. And it also allowed me to understand that this spirit I created was something that came out of just not knowing not knowing about it and understanding a little bit about fear. And so it was very much a learning experience for me.
David Ralph [40:40]
Did you like the process more than the actual achievement? It seems to me, you focus in on something to do it to work out ways of actually overcoming it? Is that kind of right? Or do you actually like the achievement as much?
Jessica Cox [40:57]
I agree with you, I like that journey of learning more about myself and figuring through the challenges going through the hoops and, and trying to figure it out in a way that’s unique for me doing it with my feet, it’s it’s very fascinating to have to learn, what do I need to do to make this work, and especially no one has ever done it before. It’s it’s kind of a very creative process. And I like that. And I like that’s why I like to do new things is to figure out new new ways of doing it. And then once you get to the accomplishment, yes, it’s wonderful. And then that’s why I like to move on to a new goal. So I’m constantly stretching myself in different ways, and doing something new.
David Ralph [41:41]
And it all leads really doesn’t it from climbing up that slide on with your chin. If you hadn’t done bat, that simple thing in a playground, you probably would have, you would have been trapped in other people’s limitations really other people’s beliefs of what is possible. But the fact that you went for that slide and got to the top really has just set the path from to where you are now is it’s fascinating when such a simple action can really change your life. We call it a big.on. The Join Up Dots timeline, we would you say that slide was your big.or? Would you say? changing direction in college? Or where would you say your big daughter when Jessica Cox really found herself was?
Jessica Cox [42:24]
It had it? I think it really it. I hadn’t really thought about it much. But I think that slide was a huge had a huge impact on me. Because once you’ve accomplished one thing, you want more, and you want to experience it again, figuring out how to do it. And you get addicted to that a common sense of accomplishment. And it becomes a part of you and and boost your self confidence. In a way, just overcoming that slide gave me confidence that nothing else could have given to me even if fail million people told me you know, you’re amazing, you’re amazing. But it wasn’t until I actually did a physical act of accomplishing something like that slide on the playground, it helped tell me that I can be confident I can do this. And it just it served as a wonderful learning experience.
David Ralph [43:15]
I love it. I really do love this storey because there’s questions galore is, you know, I suppose the next question is, what you aiming for now vain. So you’ve flown? is there other big challenges driving a car flying? What what’s what’s on your radar?
Jessica Cox [43:33]
Well, now I’m working on a documentary that shares my life and my work with I’ve opened up a new, a new, I guess a new door for advocacy and helping people around the globe who have disabilities and in spreading the word that if they’re given the same opportunities as everyone else in the same way that I was blessed with, you never know what someone can accomplish. But until they’ve given that opportunity, you’ll never know. And unfortunately, in other places around the world, there are, there are certain things that people with disabilities are not allowed to do. And they’re limited. And they’re limited by their environment more so than their own capabilities. And I’m working towards helping eliminate some of those barriers that are set up for people with disabilities in my own way, by sharing my storey by talking and saying that they should be given the opportunities,
David Ralph [44:31]
if you could go back in time, and this is a totally hypothetical question. And if you think this is a wrong question to ask, please say no piece of stupid question. But if you could go back in time and have arms, would you do it?
Jessica Cox [44:46]
It would have made my growing up years a lot easier. But no, I would not. I would not want the arms. You know, I knew you were going to say that.
David Ralph [44:54]
I totally knew you were going to save it. Because you are. You’re so comfortable with who you are. And the life that you have developed is so inspirational. I can’t actually imagine you being in the same position. If you did have the arms. I really can’t.
Jessica Cox [45:10]
Yeah, I agree with you.
David Ralph [45:11]
That lady came up to you and said, you know, do you find it annoying? everyone out there listening? Everyone who listens to the show, maybe next week, months to come in years to come? Because it will be there forever. Hopefully, we’ve got something in ourselves to be able to create something motivational and inspirational, nothing’s holding us back. And for you to be born with no arms shouldn’t have, you know, pushed you into areas but you wouldn’t have been able to do it’s mindset, isn’t it? It’s coming down totally, again, to mindset we allow ourselves to remain small. And because you’ve been fighting against it, you’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And the bigger you get, the more the possibilities seem easier, or achievable. And you keep going keep going keep going, what why why do we not do that? Why are all the listeners out there going to their crappy jobs remaining unhappy in situations when they could take control and change it? Why are they not doing that? Jessica?
Jessica Cox [46:12]
I think about that. And I wonder if it’s just the easier thing to do. And if you don’t have any resistance or challenge that you have to break through it, it’s hard to build up the persistence and the fortitude, sometimes to have to conquer those daily things. And for someone who does have a very obvious physical challenge it, it’s something you have to get through and you have to get it get over it. And when you have that you develop these skills and these traits and these values that allow you to help accomplish those other challenges in life, and it kind of helps build resilience. And so but you should have has her own challenges, and I think everyone, it for everyone, it brings out the best in us if we’re able to overcome it.
David Ralph [47:07]
What What does Patrick think of you obviously your husband, he loves you to bits because he’s your husband? But if you were to ask him Name three words to describe me what what would you reckon he would say?
Jessica Cox [47:21]
I don’t give up.
resilient. Think you think you would say that those three words? Yeah.
David Ralph [47:36]
And are you? Are you able to develop those aspects? Because you’re just constantly doing it? Do you think persistence is like a muscle, it gets stronger and stronger and stronger, the more you have to fight to do things?
Jessica Cox [47:48]
Yes, it is. But everyone can develop it, because we all have it. In the same way people wonder how I have this flexibility to reach my foot to my head and brush my hair. I say, you know, we all started off very flexible. You see a two year old when they put their foot in their mouth. And then they just put your there they, you know, they have that same flexibility. Everyone has that and started off that way. But for me, I happen to maintain my flexibility so that I’m able to use my feet on a daily basis. And everyone can develop it as well, if they either maintain it or they develop it from experience in practice.
David Ralph [48:30]
You just want to have to do it, don’t you? That’s the key thing. You need to feel it. And once you get that passion, once you get that focus, once you get that drive, you’re halfway there, aren’t you?
Jessica Cox [48:42]
Yes, you have to have the desire, it’s 80% of it
David Ralph [48:45]
10% of what happens to you 90% how you react as you said, brilliant. Let’s play just before we sort of say goodbye to you, let’s send you back in time. And this is the end of the show. And this is what we call the Sermon on the mic when we send you you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Jessica, what advice would you give? And what age would you choose where we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fade you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Here we go with the best beer on the show.
Jessica Cox [49:37]
Be confident. Love yourself. Know that it’s more important to develop that confidence and that self belief than it is to be worried about everything else and everyone else’s response to you. Keep a smile on your face. Walk with pride. Know that being your unique, authentic self is more important than feeling pressured to be like everyone else. And don’t feel Don’t be dishonest about who you are
David Ralph [50:10]
Jessica the film, right footed. That’s coming out. I know it’s going to be directed always it’s been directed by Nick Spark, the Emmy Award winning filmmaker. How can people find but is that going to come out on DVD? Is that going to be in the movie theatres? Is that going to be on the History Channel? How can people find that
Jessica Cox [50:29]
we are working on it right now we’re finishing up the final phase. And we are looking for support from around the globe to finish up that final phase we have a page it’s right footed movie calm, all one word ri gh t f o te D movie mo vi E. com. And if you can see many of the trailers, couple of the storey some of the deleted scenes, we hope to be finished by spring of next year. If we have help today finish the remaining funding that we need to finish it off. And we are very excited that it’ll hopefully be on TV for people to watch. And also potentially other avenues as well. So possibly Netflix or other other options.
David Ralph [51:17]
I’m sure it’s going to be totally inspiring because you are a lady that is totally inspiring. I’ve been in all of you since since I first connected with you to come on the show. And it’s been a delight to get to know you a bit better because I just think this is the start for you. Really, I 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, I think my God, where’s Jessica coats going to be? Does that excite you? But even after an hour conversation, you’ve inspired me, can you see the potential that’s in you?
Jessica Cox [51:45]
Oh, that’s really that’s beautiful to hear and know that? And I’m glad to to be that to for inspiration. Yeah, it really does. It kind of gets me excited and wondering, you know, what, what’s inside door for me? And how God’s gonna be using me to help reach other people. So it’s wonderful.
David Ralph [52:05]
So how can our audience connect with you, Jessica?
Jessica Cox [52:08]
If you’d like to visit me on my website, it’s right, right foot it calm, you can check it out.
David Ralph [52:15]
And I will always have social media links, you will have those as well.
Jessica Cox [52:18]
Yes, Facebook, you can find me on Facebook, you can find me on Twitter. Just check it out. I have a fan page on Facebook, with different postings of things that inspire me a little bit about the documentary and just a little bit about life events that happened in the new challenges that I’ve taken on,
David Ralph [52:35]
believe me, everyone, go over to that website because you you will be amazed you will be in or, and for most of us, you’ll be ashamed of how little you’re actually doing in your own life. I don’t want to sound harsh, but that’s how I certainly felt when I looked at it. It was totally inspirational. Jessica, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jessica Cox, thank you so much.
Jessica Cox [53:05]
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.