Inspiring Obstacles

The King’s Speech won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was impressive. Even inspiring. Of course, as king, George VI had the luxury of a speech therapist to help him overcome his stammer.

While we don’t all have a speech problem, most of us have something we’d like to overcome. Whether it’s a vocal problem, a fear of public speaking or just a condition – like a receding hairline, a scar or a weight problem – that makes us self-conscious, most everyone has something to overcome.

Obstacles are the rule, not the exception. And some are harder to overcome than others.

I once worked for a man who made King George the VI’s condition look like a cakewalk. This man had Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. He cursed and flailed. Even handing me a piece of paper was a physical ordeal. He held it out and his arm moved up, down and around violently. I had to literally jump in and take it from him. Somehow, despite it all, he owned and successfully ran his own advertising agency.

What are the odds of that? Running an advertising agency is impossible enough without a stammer or Tourettes. But how do you win business, develop strategies, lead employees and run a business when your body refuses to follow even your simplest instructions?

He did it. Every day. And he wasn’t a monarch. He was a simple businessman with a lot of heart and determination. He didn’t have a speech therapist at his beck and call, but he had a loyal staff. And every member of that staff left a little wiser than s/he arrived.

So the next time you feel you’re not up to a task, think about the monumental obstacles you DON’T have to overcome. It might make the ones you do look a little more surmountable.