I have been humbled this week, firstly watching the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic events, and then reflecting on the passing of one of the most incredible minds, Stephen Hawking. The common theme in these two events is overcoming adversity and not allowing disabilities to hold you back from achieving great things.
It’s been a reminder that what we think are disabilities, are nothing in comparison to what these legends have had to overcome. If visually impaired people can ski cross country, amputees can snowboard, grandmothers can compete in wheelchair curling, and if the greatest contribution to science can come from a mind that is trapped in a body that can’t move or speak, then surely we can make a success of our businesses with its minor limitations?
Perhaps it’s time to stop complaining, finding excuses and succumbing to challenges that life throws at us, and use the obstacles to motivate us to think differently and find ways to succeed despite our imperfections.
The first step is acknowledging and recognising your “disability”. There is no use burying your head in the sand and pretending it’s not there. No one is perfect. Analyse your and your team’s individual weaknesses, obstacles, limits, and challenges, as well as those of the business.
Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”. So now that you know what your flaws are, how can you adapt?
Sometimes a disability can be overcome simply by fixing it. A disability in business might be having the wrong people on the team, or a lack of resources, or a supplier that continuously lets you down. Fix it. Get the right people on board. Invest in the correct resources and find a trustworthy supplier that can help you grow your business.
However, disabilities are often permanent and out of one’s control. If your business is affected by currency fluctuations, or you operate in an oversubscribed industry filled with lots of competitors all competing on price, there isn’t much you can do to fix that. But how can you adapt? What can you do to minimise the risk of currency fluctuations? How can you rise above the clutter in your industry?
The amputees are skiing with prosthetic limbs. Just as they found a substitute or alternative for their limbs, can you find an alternative or substitute for your business disability?
Paraplegics can’t walk. But they use wheelchairs for mobility and independence. What aid can you introduce to your business so you keep moving forward?
The visually impaired have a guide to direct them in the cross-country skiing event. If you are missing a fundamental skill in your business, find someone to fill that gap for you rather than hiring clones of your imperfect self.
Hawking was unable to verbalise his intelligent thoughts. Using a computer as a speech generation device (you need to read up on this… it’s incredible!) he was able to conduct lectures, answer emails and skype with his friends. Be innovative and find ways to overcome whatever is holding your business back from reaching its full potential.
Hawking once said, “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” You can’t change what is, but you can choose how to respond to it, and influence the future through your decisions and actions. Take control of your destiny and your success.
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