Jessica Cox: the Filipino champion spokesperson for the disabled

Born with no hands, she was thought to suffer all her life but her parents would not hear any of it as they cheered and motivated even more as she grew older and treated just like any other child should be treated. And she accomplished one goal after another that she surpassed the achievements that many ordinary individuals did in their lifetime.

That is what Filipina American sought-after motivational speaker Jessica Cox had become after overcoming obstacles thrown her way. She then distinctly became the world’s first licensed armless pilot, the first armless black belt in the American Taekwondo Association, a scuba diver, and a Psychology degree holder, among others.

“I became state champion in taekwondo in 2014. I have been able to travel and speak in 23 countries, see the world and become an advocate for people with disability and see the impact that I could have in countries where people are not always given the opportunities and share to them and to the world that they can achieve great things given the same opportunities in education, employment. There is no telling what they can achieve,” Cox named her accomplishments.

Cox spoke with the media before her talk with P G ad E employees at their office in San Francisco recently and she shared that she is now busy spreading what she calls “possible thinking” around the world on the importance of achieving the impossible through possible thinking.

“When you open yourself to up to what is possible you will never know what you will end up doing because if you are just open to that belief that from the onset it can be achieved, you can achieve great things and that is so important to share because I’ve done that in my life and now it is important to empower other people,” Cox explained. “I have been speaking for 13 years but it is more important now to challenge other people to aspire to great things in their lives as well. I would like to be a part of the message of empowering diversity because my message to ‘think outside the shoe’ speaks on how to think differently and how you can approach the challenge in a different way.”

Cox adds that thinking outside the shoe is about addressing a challenge, innovation, ingenuity, and creativity.

“When I was a child I had to learn to wear my bright colorful shoe and tie my shoelaces with my feet outside the shoe because if my foot was inside the shoe like the other children, then I wouldn’t be able to use my toes to tie my laces. So I had that recognition early on as a child that if I had my feet out the shoe, I could then use my toes to tie my laces,” describe Cox. “That is how I approach a challenge is to sit back and see it from a different perspective and recognize that it doesn’t have to be done the same way everyone else does. We each have our way.”

Cox also believes that people are often held back by SHOE which stands for Self-imposed limitations, Habits, Over-complication, and Excuses.

“We are confined to those and we end up being held back. If we are able to think outside of those, outside the shoe, then we are able to achieve great things. Also, I don’t see disability as just something physical limitations because disabilities can also be emotional.  They are excuses for supplementing beliefs. So disabilities are not just those seen by our own eyes. Actually more of them are emotional and mental. That is what I share when I go to other countries,” clarified Cox.

In her travel to other countries, Cox also observed that many people in other countries have this stigma of fear of people with disabilities which is unfortunate.

“So it is important when I am traveling abroad to show the world that just because someone has a disability does not mean you have to be afraid of them. They are just like everyone else. They can achieve great things given the opportunity,” Cox asserts. “Celebrate diversity and embrace our differences. Disabilities come in the form of fear, emotional, psychological or mental challenges. In that case anyone can be held back not just by physical disability.”

Cox stresses that people with disability (PWD) have their own way of doing things and some of them even excel more so that the average employees.

“There is some research that they are more loyal employees. PWD had so much adversity in their life that they have to be resilient and they have built these problem-solving strategies and techniques to survive and they apply in where they are working  and accept it as a challenge.  They don’t give up easily because they had to learn how to work through it,” Cox elaborates.

On a personal note, Cox happily admits that her marriage to Patrick Chamberlain has definitely been wonderful.

“It is amazing to be able to travel with Patrick around the world not only to show the world that PWD can get married but also because we work as a power team together so we can do a lot more. And we were able to do more because Patrick is by my side now to motivate and inspire the world. And it makes it more enjoyable to travel together instead of traveling alone,” Cox gladly intimated.


P G & E Filipina American motivational speaker Jessica Cox

Jessica Cox gives a talk to employees of P G & E on how to celebrate diversity.