Many men and women were born into the severest odds and the greatest of adversities. Broken homes, intense physical injuries, psychological incapacities, debilitating poverty, racial prejudice - there's no denying that these limiting hindrances can prevent a person from achieving his fullest potential.
But history was peppered with stories about people from all walks of life who have managed to minimize, if not totally overcome, their incapacities. You think of a Ludwig van Beethoven, who was hailed the world's greatest composer despite being deaf. You've heard of an Abraham Lincoln, who was able to climb the political ladder in spite of repeatedly being defeated. There's poet-playwright Maya Angelou, who was born black in a society that lauds whites. And then there's the acclaimed author W. Somerset Maugham, who stammered all throughout his life.
The longer I live, the more I've grown convinced that the human spirit lies within it vast wellsprings of incredible strength - strength that puts the incapacitated person to get into the arena and fight his limitations. A weakness may not exactly be evident until a person accepts that it is his fate to struggle with it.
What did these men and women possess that could have caused them to turn their adversity into triumph? More often than not, they overcompensated for it by digging through their strengths. Handicapped people have just as much potential as those who are normal.
Their potential was honed and developed, until it no longer mattered that the person was handicapped. The person's potential may have evolved into a talent that has become an expression of his personality. And then it might have been utilized for something good.
Overcompensating is one way to triumph over adversity. When a handicapped person spends time working on his strengths, he forgets his weaknesses. His self-esteem is enhanced, and the way he views himself is improved. This might prod him to reach out and achieve. When he meets success, his self-image is enhanced again.
I believe that what truly devastates people is the mindset of being hopeless and helpless. Hopelessness and helplessness cause them to be lethargic, and they decide not to act upon their limitations. The limitations lie within their minds and hearts. But the person with the spirit that sparkles and the heart of a champion, who knows how to meet adversity squarely in the eye, will be the one to experience triumph.
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