Unbreakable Mind: Channeling your Survival Instincts after Catastrophic Injury

Steven Quigley, by age eight, was already an entrepreneur with his first business. He has traveled the world extensively, living in many countries, meeting people and collecting experiences that would later form his future. Before first having spent many years in South Asia, he eventually settled into a sales position on Wall Street. It was not long before he was back to business, eventually creating his own consumer finance firm, before his meeting with the express train – that changed everything. After a long journey inward, including recovery and healing from quadriplegia, he has re-emerged a new man, and is currently learning to walk again. He was enrolled as a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania until he withdrew to write his first book, Unbreakable Mind. As a result of that life changing journey, though some would say a natural fit, he is now an international speaker, author and life coach. This is his story. 

“Throughout my life I have done things my way, and they have always worked out – as if I’ve had luck in my corner.  Of course there were challenges along the way, but these were always dealt with head on and produced great results. This approach brought me around the globe:  living from Tel Aviv to London to Tokyo to Jakarta to Buenos Aires; from Wall Street to Main Street to Midaq Alley; from an apartment on Fifth Avenue to living out of my car.  No matter what, I was “all in.”  This approach has brought me both failures and successes, including a once thriving and financially successful business. The question for me was not whether I would be successful in life, but rather, how?

All of my optimism and bravado came to a crashing halt one cold December holiday night, when after an evening out with good friends, I suffered an accident. I was beaten with a pipe and later found under a moving train, resulting in quadriplegia. Given virtually no chance to walk again, I was devastated. But I also had hope, and lots of it. A fire that exists deep within, and has since childhood, burns on no matter the circumstances.  I am here for a bigger mission. What would that mission now be?  Better yet, how would I get through the mess that I was about to face?

ph. Stacy Cusack

Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.  Every part of my life – emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, financial, including family and friend relationships, suffered. Still, not ten seconds of pity passed through me while I lay on that gurney in a cold, dark, sterile hall in the trauma center,  With a priest’s hand on my arm,  I was determined to recover, to heal.   This sense of optimism was supported by a deep inner belief that all things in life are impermanent, and no matter how bad it was, it too would eventually pass. Having a background as an entrepreneur, I organized and operated my recovery as a business, down to a daily spreadsheet that had my time split into fifteen minute segments.  This process changed me in deep, introspective ways, allowing me to get in touch with my heart– with compassion for myself and others.

As a result, today I am a changed man; a new person, reborn into a new body.  I embarked on a journey of recovery and healing that brought me through great pain and darkness, a result of looking deep within for the bigger answers related to who I am and what my purpose is here, only brought home through God’s grace and the sweet song of having touched my inner-self-soul.  After six and half years of grueling physical therapy, I am also now learning to take steps again.  There is no doubt in my mind, I will walk and run again.  My body is sure to follow.

If you or someone you know has suffered a life trauma, or if you are part of medical or support staff, a friend or family of someone going through a life changing experience, then this experiential guide-book will help you to understand what questions to ask, the obstacles that the traumatized will face, and how best to proceed and support recovery and healing.  Written as a narrative, the guidebook is in the form of a story you will very much share and enjoy along the way.”

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Steven, a person with every reason to give up and go on the government dole, after suffering a tragic accident one fateful night in Philadelphia, but who, only after a brief period of pity, realized he harnessed within himself immense powers to recover and heal. He decided on the road less traveled, facing it head on. Every aspect of his life was ripped apart, from family to economic to psychological – every piece of his life turned upside down, forever changed. He understood that the path to growth was uncomfortable: it caused great discomfort and suffering, as a result. He understood that there is no free ice cream in the world – if her ever wished to walk again, or do anything significant in his life, it required ‘doing the dirty dishes’ – of which he executed to great success and happiness. His journey brought him to hell and back, causing great pain for only minimal growth – but he continued on, grasping and fighting for every centimetre of recovery. Through sheer grit and determination, he understood the obstacle is the way – and he did it – day in and day out, endlessly working to better his body and mind. On Saturdays I would speak with Steven, over months, resulting in….. In the process of his recovery, and through the intense changes, the result of that dark inner journey, through the heart to the soul, Steven emerged a new person, healing himself in the process. Not only did he learn about the body and how it heals at a molecular level but also about his true meaning and purpose here on this planet. Through that dark journey not only did he discover himself but also how he could now assist others with struggle in life. With those lessons in tow he decided to take those lessons and include them in a book, a form of paying-it-forward to the community, which is filled with incredible life lessons on dealing with and getting through pain and struggle, whether physical or mental, and stories of immense motivation and inspiration; sure to assist anyone’s soul on their own personal inner journey of recovery and healing. Your powers of observation, comedic wit whilst discussing otherwise difficult subject matter, long journey deep into the annals of your most profound being, bits of proverbial wisdom, overall boundless grit and get-it-done determination, for not only getting yourself but also others better, all make you a much needed voice in the current world in which we find ourselves. I look forward to the great things in your future.
-By Dr. Rodney Napier, UPenn
An Unbreakable Mind is a great “playbook” for anyone who has suffered a recent spinal chord injury or any other catastrophic life event. As a first hand view, it guides the reader through all of the emotions, post injury and how to go beyond those emotions to take control of life and all the decisions that need to be made. A great “How To” on doing all the homework to research options and make educated decisions on the next steps without giving in to predetermined pathways or others’ biases about treatments and life choices. The author speaks to the need to be a tenaciously selfish about those choices and that you are your own best advocate, in these times. He also does a great job of also noting the areas where he would have made different decisions and how that can help someone now going through the process. Finally, the reader is given great insight into the financial aspects of such an injury, knowing what resources are and are not available and understanding how to make the most of them.
-By Gary Gilberti, NuMotion
You are a thriver, and your story will serve as a great resource of courage and inspiration for so many that may be going through a similar situation or difficult time.
-By Robin Roberts, ABC News

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