Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

How to turn a handicap into an advantage

“A lot of what is beautiful and powerful in the world arises out of adversity. We benefit from those kind of things, but we wouldn’t wish them on each other.”

Malcolm Gladwell

Some people have no choice but to try harder than others because they’re handicapped.

So the shorter basketball player develops quickness and anticipation in order to compensate for a lack of height.

A dyslexic student practices harder than anyone else to read and write — in doing so, they unlock a new way to play with prose. Maybe they even become a poet or build a media empire, like Richard Branson.

A disability can be a gift in disguise

In working harder to overcompensate for these perceived disadvantages, one begins to see that what makes them successful is exactly the thing that causes them so much struggle.

As the author Bernard Malamud once said, “if you haven’t struggled you haven’t yet lived.”

Embracing the dialectic of a beautiful struggle is what underdogs do. They have no choice but to cope with their weaknesses and find other ways to win.

The following formula helps explain the phenomenon of beating adversity:

Handicap + Struggles + Diligence + Overcompensation + Creativity + Innovation = Success

With the right mindset and effort, a handicap can outweigh its inherent limitations.


Your Perspective

Everything depends on it. You only make decisions based on what you know and what you want to know.

That’s why education is so vital, it feeds you with information that helps you make decisions now while also sparking your imagination so you can build the future.

But what you make not only depends on how well you see future. Creativity requires persistence, focus, and manipulating disadvantages.

Bram Cohen’s autism helped him create BitTorrent. Richard Branson’s dyslexia enabled him to offload some work to others so he could focus on his strengths.

Imperfections beget creativity. Your biggest weakness becomes your biggest strength, which deepens your perspective further and makes you more unique.

Being normal is hard. Struggles force you to think outside the box.