When you were a kid, and complained about something like finishing the food on your plate, did your parents use the time-honored technique of trying to shame you into line by saying something like “There are starving children in Africa who don’t even HAVE food to eat”? Or if you didn’t want to walk to the store to get a gallon of milk, the classic “You’re lucky! Some kids CAN’T walk to the store, because they don’t have LEGS!” Most of us probably don’t find comparisons to how bad things could be particularly useful. Which is why I find Aimee Mullins’ story so incredibly compelling, because it turns this whole idea completely on its head. Here is a person who was dealt what many would consider a definite obstacle to running and modeling for sure, and probably a significant obstacle to doing just about anything. And who turned this supposed adversity into such an opportunity that she’s not only known globally for her high-tech carbon fiber legs and her high fashion “boots”, but is equally acknowledged for her inspirating motivational speaking and insights into turning the perception of being a “disabled person with prosthetics” into a “super-abled person with enhancing augmentations”. As Mullins puts it, with her trademark wit: “Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled.”
But I can’t begin to convey the intelligence, motivation, and inspiration that Mullins expresses in virtually every area of her life, which is why you should check out her TED Talk below, in which she shares – with insight and irreverence – some things that may help you re-think not only what your own assets are, but how you might want to re-think the whole idea of “disadvantage” altogether, whether physical or or not.
Photo by David Shankbone