Ah, the joy of youth. Carefree, and without worry… until we pursue our first, real job. Then, the concern of age rears its ugly head for the first time. “Will clients have trouble responding to me because of my age? Will clients think that my age makes me less qualified for the position I hold? If only I was a little older…” Although it seems hard to fathom, those sentiments were quite real when we were beginning our work life.
Then, some years passed by. One day, you woke up no longer concerned about how young you are, but how old you are. For many who are struggling professionally, it can become an obsession. As you walk into an important interview, you find yourself thinking this: “I just know they are going to want someone younger than me!” The irony is if the person you are communicating with wasn’t concerned about your age, or any other perceived flaw, they are now. That imperfection is what I refer to as “a limp.” However, consider this:
“We all walk with a limp.”
There are a handful of biblical references to this phrase, I’d like to provide my take on these six simple words. We all have our own weaknesses, and those weaknesses represent our personal limp. Our limp is what makes us human. Oddly enough, I have difficulty trusting anyone who appears to have no limp. Maybe it’s because I believe our limp, and our ability to adjust to that limp, is what makes us extraordinary. Anyone without a limp is either an imposter, or possesses no compassion for those who do have limps.
Our limp can be any physical, or physiological imperfection you’d like to list here, and sadly, we often let it hold us back. Notice I said, “we often let it hold us back.” We are the ones who walk in the room troubled by our limp, and we are the ones who convince ourselves that our limp is a problem for others, so we are the ones that make others concerned about our limp. But it just doesn’t have to be this way!
We had a beautiful black lab that was one of the greatest dogs I’ve ever had. My boy Jake was a beauty. One day we found Jake sitting by the door unable to move his back legs. He had mysteriously become paralyzed in his hind legs. The vet diagnosed a back injury, and he operated on Jake and did the best he could. After six months of rehab, my boy Jake could walk again. Oh, he didn’t quite walk the way his other friends did, but he had his own way of slowly getting up, and swinging one leg behind the other. He even learned to run. Oh, he didn’t quite run the way his other friends did, but he had his own way of getting up to speed, and running with his front legs while he hopped with his back legs.
Sometimes when we had friends over, they would notice him and they’d ask in a concerned tone: “Is your dog okay?” We’d smile and say, “He sure is.” You see, Jake walked with a limp but he really didn’t care. The other dogs in the neighborhood didn’t care, and neither did we. Jake went on to live another ten years with his wonderful limp.
We all walk with a limp. It’s time to stop worrying about what the person on the other side of the desk thinks about your limp. One thing I can absolutely guarantee you: If it’s not important to you, and you reach peace with your limp, it will dramatically decrease the impact that limp has on others. Too young, too old, to short, too tall, under qualified, over qualified, introverted, extroverted, physically or mentally challenged; it just doesn’t matter.
The people you are communicating with walk with their own limps, and at the end of the day, they aren’t concerned about your limp. They are concerned about your ability to live with your limp. Success requires humility, which is born from vulnerability. Walk tall, my friends, and make that limp part of the unique strengths you proudly offer the world.