Adrian PetersonOn December 24, 2011, Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson ruptured the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee.

It was a shocking injury that ended his season and normally results in a significant recovery time of over a year.

World-renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews said of such injuries that, “The average NFL player … only about a little over 50 percent are still playing after two years.”

Adrian Peterson didn’t just come back within 8 months, he was a popular and worthy winner of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2012 season after falling just 9 yards short of breaking the NFL all-time rushing record.

How did he make such a remarkable comeback and why is he such an inspiration?

Peterson himself humbly suggests that genetics played a big part and that may be true to an extent, but I suspect that there was more to it than that.

Here are a few things that we can all learn from such a tremendous athlete, especially if you have ever suffered a setback in life:

An amazing work ethic – To come back so quickly from such a serious injury takes commitment and a lot of sweat in the rehabilitation process.  With ACL injuries, doctors wait until the swelling goes down before operating, so Peterson bought an ice machine so that he could be operated on just 6 days after being injured.  He then went to work to get back to full fitness as soon as possible.

“There were times when I didn’t want to do a lot of stuff,” Peterson said. “I just wanted to rest because I was sore, but I would just get up and push through it. My mother always taught me, ‘When you leave to go home at the end of the day, you need to feel like you accomplished something.’ So I would fight through it.”

If you’ve ever had a setback in life, it’s tempting to just give up on your dreams.

Don’t fall for it, but do all that you can to bounce back through hard work and persistence, even when you don’t feel like it.

A fearless mindset – To come back to full fitness is a great achievement in itself, but the rigours of American football, especially as a running back, are intense and physically demanding.

But that didn’t seem to bother Adrian Peterson, who attacked opposing defensive players fearlessly, resulting in a season that surpassed anything that he achieved before he was injured.

Have you suffered a setback and are now hesitant to try again?

Perhaps you missed out on a job application, owned a business that failed or was rejected in a relationship?

Don’t shy away from trying again, but attack your challenge with the same fearless mindset.

A positive attitude – This is how Peterson himself described his remarkable season, “This is something that I had planned out months ago.  I knew I wanted to come into this season and have an impact. I wanted to help my team. I’m not surprised by what I’ve done. I expected it the whole time, and I think that’s the reason it’s happening.”

Everyone else may have been surprised by his comeback, but he wasn’t.

Successful people are rarely surprised by their achievements because they’ve always believed in their capabilities.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you believe that you can overcome the obstacles that are in front of you to realise your dreams?

If you ever have the misfortune to suffer from a significant setback, remember that a strong work ethic, a fearless mindset and a positive attitude can get you back on track to perform remarkable deeds.

Congratulations Adrian Peterson on your phenomenal season and thanks for inspiring us to be our best in our own areas of endeavour.

On hearing the tragic news of the recent death of Adrian’s 2 year-old son, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to him and his family.  There are no words that can take away the pain, but my he is in my prayers.

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