Monday, June 10, 2013

Challenge #10: Limitations Embrace

Sometimes life just sucks people.  Sometimes things happen and plans don't work out and we can't do or be the people we wanted to be in the way we had preconceived in our minds.   I don't care who you are, we all have a handicap that has made us feel this way at one time or another.  It might be physical, it might be emotional, it might simply be a situation or maybe even a monetary thing.  Everyone has that personal handicap that they think is restricting them from being who they were meant to be, or at least who they could be if only they didn't have that one thing in their way blocking their path.

The guy who posted this photo captioned it
"Crushed Dreams" SERIOUSLY!? WTF!?!?
I was dredging my way through the internet tonight, looking for images I could include with this blog post, when this image popped up.  The moment I saw it I had a gut wrenching urge to break down in tears and then to get up from my sobbing puddle and punch someone in the face.  The caption beneath the image read "Crushed Dreams".  And that right there ladies and gentlemen is exactly what is wrong with us as a society.  

Society ingrains in us from such a young age what perfect should look like.  It tells us what success should look like.  So as little boys and little girls we start to develop expectations for our lives based off of what society tells us we should want.  We plan them out meticulously, controlling and manipulating every detail of our existence to get us to societies perfect outcome.  But like all good plans we usually run into a few snags along the way.  We don't have enough money, we unexpectedly find ourselves with unanticipated family obligations, or our bodies just give out before they were supposed to.  Life has failed us and we are suddenly failures because we can no longer realize the perfect outcome that we were supposed to achieve. That's it, game over, you lose.

Here's the thing, life isn't a piece of classic literature with one set ending, it's more like a choose your own adventure novel. It's messy, it's complicated, and it's got more than one potential ending.

For example meet Dergin Tokmak aka STIX.  Dergin was only one year old when polio left him partially paralyzed from the waist down.  But that wasn't the end of his story, he chose a different ending.  Dergin spent years of hard work and training to become a dancer, because he was passionate and wasn't about to let his handicap get the better of him.  His talent and originality has taken him all the way to becoming a member of Cirque du Soleil.  Now here's the point to all my ramblings, in the end it was his handicap, not his perfect life, that lead him to work hard and to develop a unique style that got him where he is today. Likewise in our lives, it is our perceived handicaps that eventually help form us, shape us and push us out of our conventional boxes and into who we were truly meant to be.  

Handicaps force us to abandon the shackles of convention and use our creativity to develop our own unique style and flair.  In fact the entire history of art is riddled with people who started working the way they did because of a handicap.  Matisse had to cut paper because he couldn't hold a paint brush anymore. Beethoven was deaf and Chuck Close's neurological handicap and paralysis has had a profound influence on developing his unique style of painting. 

But you don't have to just take my word for it, Phil Hansen does an amazing job of summing up what I'm talking about in this video:

His whole talk is amazing but this is my favorite bit at the end:

"Limitations may be the most unlikely of places to harness creativity, but perhaps one of the best ways to get ourselves out of ruts, rethink categories and challenge accepted norms. And instead of telling each other to seize the day, maybe we can remind ourselves every day to seize the limitation." 
- Phil Hansen
These challenge badges keep getting ridiculously cooler
each week it seems like.
So if you haven't already guessed it yet, this week your challenge is to write down all your perceived limitations you see in your life and brainstorm ways you can (to use Phil Hansen's term) "embrace the shake."  How can you turn those perceived limitations into launching pads for inspiration?

After you've brainstormed make sure you come back here and share some of the ideas you came up with over your week of contemplation!

Also don't forget to snag a nifty challenge badge to share on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media pages to get the word out about this weeks challenge.  I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty proud of this one.  (seriously how amazing were choose your own adventure books!?)

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