There can be strength in limitations! Everyone has limitations and limitations. The fact that they have them is unimportant. How they respond to them is important. Many suppress them, hide them, run away from them, or let their weakness control and limit their lives.
Others have achieved greatness because of the way they have responded to their limitations or handicaps.
- Helen Keller, blind and deaf, said, “I thank God for my handicaps!”
- Norman Vincent Peale, as a young man, was so self-conscious and tongue-tied that he was afraid to recite in classes. “When I started out from college I believe I had the biggest inferiority complex that existed,” he said. It was his response to this weakness that made him one of America’s great preachers. He did not let the handicap control him. He faced it as a challenge, did something about it, and grew strong as a result.
- When has anything worthwhile been attained except by overcoming obstacles?” asks General David Sarnoff, head of Radio Corporation of America.
- Ludwig Beethoven composed his greatest symphonies after becoming totally deaf. George Handel wrote his “Messiah” when he was broke in money, spirit, and health; his creditors were threatening to throw him in jail.
- Winston Churchill responded to a serious speech impediment by becoming one of the most distinguished orators of our times.
- Franklin Roosevelt served as President of the United States for the longest period in history from a wheelchair.
- It was Napoleon‘s response to being extremely short that gave him the thrust to become tall in his conquests.
- Socrates, short, bald, fat, deformed, and ugly, responded to his appearance by becoming history’s most famous philosopher.
Perhaps one of your handicaps is listlessness, lack of drive, and energy at times. Sometimes you may get “down in the mouth” and have feelings of discouragement or despair that hold you back.
Everyone has the same feelings. But what do you do about them? Face them? Force yourself to face the day with courage and do your best anyway?
One young man did. He was a young man who was constantly worried about his health, suffered a nervous breakdown, and a whole lifetime of reverses. At one time he even threatened suicide. He wrote, “I am the most miserable man living. Whether I shall be better, I cannot tell.” But he tried. He faced his mental moods squarely; eventually, he conquered them to meet one of the toughest mental challenges in the United States’ history. His name was Abraham Lincoln.
Develop Weakness Power
So there can be a chance for real growth and strength from your limitations if you learn to use them rather than let them use you.
They are somewhat like the locusts in South Africa that would descend on the impoverished farmer, feeding off his crops. He would frantically run into his fields and try to scare them off. It would do no good. They would end up stripping his ground of crops, then die, leaving piles of locusts, sometimes several feet high, on the barren ground. But the farmer learned to face the problem. He would quickly go out and plow the bodies into the ground.
And from this enriched soil would come the greatest crop!
Facing your limitations and handicaps can be the very nourishment that builds your personal effectiveness and confidence. You can, like the farmers with the locusts, turn them back into the soil of your character to give it strength and maturity.
William E. Henley is a good example of this. As a young man he suffered operation after operation, had one foot amputated because of tuberculosis of the bone, and at one time was told that he had only a short time to live. But he lived another 30 years. The reason may be found in these words that he composed on his hospital bed.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul!”
Don’t become discouraged because you have weaknesses and limitations. Face them! They can be the stepping stones that help you become the “master of your fate!”
Response To Your Limitations
What are your limitations or handicaps?
Do you feel awkward with strangers?
Have bad days? Lack of courage to take chances? Feel inferior to handling certain situations? Or perhaps you have physical limitations of appearance, form, or coordination.
What do you do about them? First, admit them.
“Know thyself,” Socrates advised Once you come face to face with yourself and what you really are, you can do something about your limitations.
One famous psychologist suggests that you exaggerate your handicaps to a point of ridiculousness. After they are “overexposed” and you return to your normal behavior they seem insignificant.
Demosthenes, one of Greece’s greatest orators, used this technique. He was tongue-tied at birth. So he would go down to the seashore and practice speaking with a mouthful of pebbles. His handicap was put to such a severe trial that normal speaking seemed easy after that.
You don’t like to speak in front of others? Then force yourself to join the Toastmasters, or volunteer to take on assignments that require you to talk in front of others.
Points To Remember About Strengths And Limitations
- Meet yourself face-to-face and evaluate your attitudes about yourself.
- When asked to list your strengths and limitations, you may have discovered that you listed more limitations than strengths.
- Perhaps your attitudes about yourself are being affected more by your limitations than by your strengths.
- You may have taken for granted many of the strengths and natural abilities you have and ignored them in your day-to-day thinking about yourself.
- People who succeed in life generally build on their strengths and ignore their limitations.
- Often, people who fail do so by dwelling on their limitations, analysing themselves into ruts, saying, “What’s the matter with me?” or “Why can’t I do anything right?” They end up lacking confidence in themselves.
- The way you “verbalize” affects the way you think and act. Words have a hypnotic effect on you. What you are today is really the way you have hypnotized yourself with words all of your life.
- Your mind and body react to words. Kipling said that words are the most powerful drugs used by humanity.
- Words are either your masters or your servants. They control you or you control them. The choice is yours. Your mind, your life, your body, your day-to-day existence, whether it be brilliant success or dismal failure, is determined by words.
- When you use negative words they become your masters. They cause you to do negative things.
- Words used positively build up your self-confidence, your success, you’re day-to-day living, even your health.