I was watching a TED talk by someone called Aimee Mullins.
I didn’t know who she was, but the talk was recommended, so I watched.
She was very tall and thin, in a short dress, long legs, and very high heels.
She walked back and forth across the stage as she spoke.
She was an extremely attractive young lady.
While she spoke, assistants were placing lots of things on the stage behind her.
On a large screen, she showed pictures of herself.
First as an athlete, then as an actress, then a cover girl on various magazines.
She looked great in all of them of course.
But I couldn’t work out what point she was trying to make.
Eventually she turned and gestured to all the objects lined up on stage behind her.
She said “And these are my legs.”
But that didn’t make sense, she was wearing a short skirt, very high heels, and walking around on stage.
We could clearly see her legs.
Then gradually it dawned.
What she was walking on were prosthetic legs.
And racked up behind her was a selection of artificial legs.
Stranger still, they didn’t even look like legs.
One amazing pair had been made for her by Alexander McQueen, when she modelled his clothes.
They were carved from ash and had vines intertwined around them.
Another pair was totally transparent and carved like tentacles.
She even had a pair shaped like animal paws, for a semi naked photo shoot she did as a cheetah.
She looked amazing in all the shots.
She said she had a wardrobe of about a dozen different pairs of legs.
For her it was an extension of the average woman’s wardrobe.
And, far from being a disadvantage, it was quite the opposite.
For instance, she recently met a friend at a party.
The friend remarked that she seemed so much taller than usual.
Aimee Mullins said she was.
During the day, when she was working, she tended to wear the legs that made her 5’ 8” tall.
But tonight for the party, she was wearing the legs that made her 6’ 1” tall.
And her friend was shocked and said “But Aimee, that isn’t fair.”
And Aimee Mullins laughed out loud.
Because suddenly, as she said herself “I realised, I don’t have a disability. I have an ability.”
Isn’t that great?
Someone who can totally turn the tables on life?
It reminded me of a brilliant animator I used to work with years ago.
His name was Paul Vester and he had a glass eye.
Actually he had more than one glass eye.
Before Aimee Mullins was even born, Paul used to change his glass eye according to his mood.
Paul had a normal eye made for formal meetings at work.
But he also had a totally black eye he wore when he wanted to look sinister.
And chrome, mirror-finish eye when he wanted to look like a robot.
As Paul said “What’s the point in having a glass eye if it just looks like a real eye?”
And, just like Aimee Mullins many years later, Paul turned a problem into an opportunity.
A disadvantage into an advantage.
Don’t hide what makes you different, celebrate it.
It’s your brand, it’s your USP.