By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to turn the lemons in your life into lemonade.
I needed a cup of coffee. Bad. Let me revise that with proper emphasis: I NEEDED a cup of coffee. You know the feeling. That vending machine looked like an oasis to me. I had no change. I only had three wrinkled one-dollar bills.
But the dollar-bill change machine spit out all three of my attempts to feed it. I was desperate. HELP! A service man from the vending company happened to be restocking a nearby candy machine. He came to my rescue.
He took my wrinkled dollar bill – and wrinkled it some more. I CRINGED. Oh, no. That’s going to ruin that dollar even more and the machine will spit it again and again. I was wrong. He folded it lengthwise, creased it, flattened it and then fed it into the machine. The machine gobbled it up and soon I was gulping down the coffee. Ahhhhhhh! You know the feeling.
That vending machine service man demonstrated to me that sometimes you gain strength through a perceived weakness.
After all a leaf will stay afloat longer if its sides are curled up, even though the curl would seem to weaken the structure. The most effective leaders I’ve known recognize that strength can come through what others see only as a weakness.
Stutterers Become Renown Orators
Let’s scan the history books for a few examples of leaders who turned a personal weakness into a strength:
Winston Churchill had a speech defect. He went on to become one of the world’s greatest orators and prime minister of England during World War II. Three other great speakers had to first overcame stuttering—Moses, Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson.
Johnny Weissmueller, the world champion Olympic swimmer who went on to play Tarzan, was a weakling. As a 12 –year old. he was 135 pound 6-foot tall bag of bones. He started swimming to build up his body.
Reverend Sylvester Graham suffered tuberculosis and was sickly all of his life. He sought better health through better eating habits. In 1829, he developed a healthy snack we still enjoy–the Graham Cracker out of wheat.
Nathan Pritikin was discouraged to learn of his heart disease. But he turned his illness into a motivational tool and developed his famous diet and exercise program that kept him going 30 more years.
So the next time, you’re facing adversity turn your perceived weakness into your strength. Celebrate the observation of noted philosopher William James that: “Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us.” Even for a cup of coffee. Wrinkled dollar and all.
How have you used challenging situations to perform even better? I look forward to your thoughts, maybe even over a cup of coffee. Use the Comments sections below.
Embrace adversity as a potential performance-enhancing experience to keep
your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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