Renaming Your Liabilities


My 3 Laws for dealing with Perceived (or Real) Flaws

I have spent the better part of three decades lamenting my “speech problem.” I placed that term in quotes because, to be honest, I’ve mostly heard people say I make this perceived problem out to be more than it is. Maybe even a lot more than it is. Is my speech perfect? Heck no. I have certainly been met with blank stares or perplexed looks on occasion. Have people given me a hard time about the way I talk? Sure. In fact, I was teased a little–more than a little, at times– growing up. So, I’m fully aware there is an explanation, even a reason, why I look at my speech as a liability, one at many times I feel far outweighs all of the things I do well.

But only recently, maybe in the last year or so, have I realized something. I can and WILL not achieve the things I want out of myself until I stop making this—or any liability– an excuse. And if you read my previous post, you realize this is something we all struggle with at some time or another in our lives- finding excuses.

But it’s not that easy, right? I mean bad habits die hard. Really hard, sometimes. So, to make things easy, I put together a list of 3 Reasons why I can’t let my speech–again, or ANY liability– get in the way of my destined greatness.

First, nobody cares. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, the world doesn’t really care what your problems are– whether real or not; whether bigger or smaller than you make them out to be. As the legendary NFL Coach Bill Parcells used to say, “They’re not cancelling the game on Sunday.” For us non-NFL players, let me translate for you: Life is going to go on, whether you are ready or not, whether you are feeling sorry for yourself or not. The sooner you realize this, the better. If your rent is past due, the landlord probably won’t care for very long, if at all, that you lost your job. She, after all, can’t turn around and tell the bank to which she owes a mortgage payment that same story. They certainly won’t care. If you go to the beach and don’t like the way you look in your bathing suit, the onlookers aren’t going to care if you’re too busy, hurt, or tired to work out. Unless you’re confident and bold enough to wear a disclaimer on your bottom that says “Give me a break; I’m busy with work and kids”, they probably won’t even know. They’ll just see that you, uh, should probably not be wearing a bathing suit. And you certainly can’t tell your boss to give you a new position that requires more responsibility, but to overlook your speech problem because it’s not your fault, that you have a speech impediment. He’s not going to be able to or want to explain that to the board or other important stakeholders. Nobody cares.

Secondly, everyone has something that bugs them about themselves. Successful people, though, don’t let these things stop them from achieving greatness. Look around you. People are imperfect. But look again and you’ll see stories abound with people who have not allowed these “liabilities” to get in their way or define who they are or are going to be. People with little academic background go on to be amazing motivational speakers and businessmen. People who lack prototypical athletic size, speed, and strength have achieved tremendous accomplishments in their sport at very high levels. And even people who don’t speak perfectly have successfully overlooked that to do everything they want to do in life, whether it is acting, singing, or sports broadcasting and commentating.

But even though I think point one (nobody cares) and point two (everyone has flaws) are compelling enough to cut down to size any of your traits you may dislike, I believe the third one is the most powerful.

You see, I’d tried using the first two “laws” for years. I told myself I had to get over my fears and move on. I told myself others had their own flaws and that I might even have some assets they’d envy. But although it often gave me a surge of encouragement, like a sugar high, it often died.

Then the third law dawned upon me, almost by accident. I was watching a basketball game at a restaurant and overheard two guys talking. They were bantering back and forth about one of the players and one of the two guys said “man, if I had his talent, I’d be..”. As I often do, I finished the sentence for him to my wife. She says I do that too loud, where they can often hear me. Maybe I do. I said “LAZY. If you had his talent you’d be lazy.” And it’s true. You’ll hear people say it all the time. If I had her natural born talent, I’d do so much more with it. If I had her looks, I’d this or that.

It’s a little known sports term called “The Fallacy of the Predetermined Outcome.” Its meaning is best explained through a baseball example. A player on first base tries to steal second and gets thrown out. The very next pitch, the batter hits a home run. And what does every fan watching say? “If that idiot had not tried to steal, that would have been a 2-run homer instead of 1.” While that sounds logical and reasonable, it is not true. Not necessarily, at least. Had the runner not tried to steal, everything about the subsequent pitch sequence would have been different. Where the first baseman lined up. How nervous or distracted the pitcher was (that the player might steal). What kind of pitches were then thrown. Everything would be different. “The Fallacy of the Predetermined Outcome.”

Well, the same is true all around sports. The guy who works hard and agonizes over his teammate’s raw ability doesn’t realize that he probably works harder than his gifted teammate BECAUSE he doesn’t possess those same gifts. People talk about Aaron Rodgers being overlooked by so many teams or wonder how the newest sensation Colin Kaepernick could have gone unnoticed by every Division I college except the University of Nevada. More truth than not is that Aaron Rodgers is the amazing quarterback he is now, having won a Super Bowl as well as Super Bowl and League MVPs, BECAUSE he was overlooked. And Colin Kaepernick, in large part BECAUSE he was paired with the inventor of the pistol formation (which was created for Kaepernick), has turned into one of the most promising quarterbacks in the NFL.

Where was I going with all of this? Oh yeah, the third law or rule. Rename your liabilities. If you look closely, you’ll often find that what you think are liabilities or flaws are actually assets. If nothing else, they have shaped you into the person you are today. And that, I guarantee you, is a wonderful and unique individual, whether you know it yet or not. You cannot change that flaw–or anything else–without changing everything else.

In my case, I realize now that although my speech insecurities have caused some sadness, angst, and frustration over the years; they’ve also pushed me to achieve in other areas of my life. Whether right or wrong, healthy or not; my dissatisfaction with the way I talked motivated me to compensate in both athletics and other academic areas. If it were not for my speech issues, maybe I wouldn’t have played football in college. If it weren’t for my fear of speaking, maybe I wouldn’t enjoy writing so much. And would I be as sensitive to other people’s blemishes and imperfections had I not experienced what it feels like? Probably not. The point is this. We may not know the reason for having that flaw that drives us crazy or makes us sad. But there is one. There is a reason. And if you look deep and hard, you’ll often find much more good has come from it than you could have ever imagined. All you need to do is rename that liability to what it really is in disguise, a tremendous asset.


About bbluford
I am an executive finance professional with a love for process and application development (MS Access, Excel, Quickbooks), mostly as it relates to Accounting and Business Functions. I also love to write and share ideas with other people in this world. I'm an admitted Gym Rat who works out excessively. The best summation of me is that I love to teach and to learn.

4 Responses to Renaming Your Liabilities

  1. Julie Manriquez says:

    Bobby!! I love this. Your video blog is amazing. It is terrific to hear your voice (literally) outside of your written voice. Your honesty is greatly appreciated and humbling for all of us with “shortcomings.” Bless you my friend…..julie

    • bbluford says:

      I humbly thank you for your kind words, Julie. My goal from this day forward is to share with the world all of the gifts God gave me…even if it means dealing with some of the challenges he has also given me.

  2. sterl says:

    Great job Blu! I admire your courage to be vulnerable. I think vulnerability (or the fear of being vulnerable) keeps many of us from pursuing of our passions, making commitments and taking accountability for our actions. I really like your perspective.

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