344: Aaron Hale | Blind AND Deaf?? How to Push Through Obstacles
Aaron Hale is a chef and 14-year military veteran who became blind after surviving an explosion in Afghanistan and became deaf a few years later. He founded a chocolate business, E.O.D., with his wife McKayla Hale. In this episode of Build Your Network, you will find out how Aaron overcame the odds and created a successful business and expanded his network beyond just selling baked goods to family and friends.
- Aaron grew up in a fairly artistic family, and his form of artistry was cooking.
- He joined the military after getting a Business degree because he didn’t have any clear direction and it was the most logical next step for him.
- His first duty post was in Italy for four years, and in his off-duty hours he really immersed himself in the culture and cuisine.
- By 2004, the Army needed additional people from the Navy and other branches to volunteer, and Aaron enlisted as part of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team.
- In doing an IED check while on duty in Afghanistan, a secondary device detonated and damaged his eyes beyond repair, entirely blinding him.
- His military training is what enabled him to maintain a healthy mindset and kept him from falling down a hole of despair.
- Aaron decided to use the skills he learned in rehabilitation to occupy his mind and stay fit by mountain climbing and running marathons.
- Right before he was set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Aaron contracted bacterial meningitis through the cracks in his skull he sustained from the IED explosion, and the infection rendered him completely deaf.
- Aaron describes the six months he spent completely blind and deaf, before getting his cochlear implants, as incredibly lonely.
- He decided to make the most of the time by throwing a massive Thanksgiving feast, so he started baking and it became his therapy.
- From that point, people kept asking him if he could bake for them and started to pay him for it, so it grew into his business named E.O.D., or Extraordinary Delights.
- Aaron learned from the Stockdale Paradox, which says that a firm grasp on reality is more effective in surviving trauma than blind hope is; Aaron had to accept that he may never hear again and that the cochlear implants might not work in order to get through the experience, rather than putting all his energy into hoping they would.
- There was more blast damage to his inner ear than a cochlear implant could compensate for, so now everything he hears sounds fully digital because all the sound is coming from the implant’s magnet signal.
- Aaron used his speaking engagements and climbing adventures to grow his network beyond just selling baked goods to family and friends.
- Aaron sees who you know and what you know as a yin and yang, as a symbiotic relationship.
- Aaron sees running his business and becoming a parent as the next challenges for him and as the things that are fulfilling his purpose.
- The Random Round
3 Key Points:
- A healthy mindset is what can carry you through any difficult situation.
- You can find your purpose and direction through continually challenging yourself.
- Adding value to others’ lives and taking away their pain can diminish your own pain, and that is what running his business has done for Aaron.
- “I was finding success through challenging myself. It wasn’t despite struggle, it was because of the struggle. I was growing stronger, more confident, I was growing my network, I was making more friends, and I was adding value to other people’s lives.” –Aaron Hale
- “Our pain actually diminishes when we take on others’ pain.” –Aaron Hale