When he was about eight, Steven Morris used to go to school in Detroit.
He was blind, but he wanted to be like all the other children.
He wanted to fit in and do what they did.
Of course, being blind, he couldn’t do everything they did.
He still remembers a very kind teacher, Mrs Beneduci.
One particular day she asked the class who was the 16th President of the US.
No one knew.
She knew Steven was a smart kid, so she always gave him a chance to prove it.
She said to him “Come on Steven, surely you know.”
He said “Abraham Lincoln, Mrs Beneduci.”
She said “Well done Steven.”
But it didn’t make him feel any better.
However smart he was, he could never be like the other children.
Then the teacher said “Who’s making that noise?”
Everyone looked around.
She said “I can hear a rustling, please stop it.”
No one moved.
She said “I can still hear it, it sounds like a mouse.”
All the girls screamed and jumped up on their chairs.
Mrs Beneduci said “Stop please, everyone be silent.”
When the class had quietened down, she said “Steven, can you hear where the noise is coming from?”
From his seat, he said “It’s coming from right by your desk Mrs Beneduci.”
And he walked to the front of the class and pointed to a wastebasket “Right there.”
The teacher lifted out the crumpled paper and sure enough there was a tiny mouse inside, trying to get out.
That mouse became the class mascot.
But something much more important happened to that little boy.
He realised he had something none of the other children had.
A fantastic sense of sound.
He didn’t have to be like everyone else, he was different.
And his life changed from that day.
He began making the most of what made him different.
He began to live in the world of sound.
A world where he had an advantage, not a disadvantage.
And he started to live for music.
And he got a recording contract with Motown records.
When he was 12 they released an album of his music, and he had his first hit a year later.
He changed his name from Steven Morris to Stevie Wonder.
He plays piano, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, organ, and bongos.
He’s sold over 100 million records.
Rolling Stone magazine voted him one of the greatest singers of all time.
None of this happened by trying to be like other people.
The exact opposite in fact.
It happened by finding out what he was good at.
And by making the most of what made him different.
Sometimes it’s difficult to realise what our potential advantage is.
Because it’s so obvious we can’t see it.
And because we see it as a problem not an opportunity.
So we waste it, trying to be like people we can never be like.
We’re playing their game.
Instead of changing the game to one we can win.
If you can’t win at football, change the game to rugby.
If you can’t win at rugby, change the game to cricket.
If you can’t win at cricket, change the game to darts
Keep changing it, until you find a game you can win at.
If you’re creative, that’s what you do.
You change the rules until they work in your favour.