Three Fingers” Mahoney was a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs. Injured in an accident when he was a little boy, he lost two of the fingers on one of his hands. To compensate, he had to figure out how to hold a baseball in a unique way so that he could control it. He experimented endlessly and finally came up with a pitch that was almost impossible for batters to hit. They considered him just about unstoppable! With Mahoney’s help, the Chicago Cubs won the Pennant in 1908.
We all have some big shortcoming, some major weakness, that we struggle with in our work. Sometimes we ignore it, sometimes we defy it, sometimes we let it define us, and sometimes, we figure out a way to downplay it.
But how many of us have the creativity and chutzpah of a “Three Fingers” Mahoney? How many of us have the guts and ingenuity to turn our handicaps into strengths and then use them to become unique and unstoppable? Now that’s writing dangerously!
When I look at my own shortcomings on the writing front, they seem pretty hefty. First there’s my lack of structure and organization. Then there’s my tendency to read a lot instead of writing a lot. I also find it almost impossible to work on more than one major project at a time, which makes things move pretty slowly. And then, there’s my sheaf of unfinished projects — completion is a major issue for me.
Frankly, looking at this list is a little dispiriting. I could use a pina colada! And yet, if I get a bit creative, I can see that each one of these less-than-stellar traits can be turned into winners. Lack of structure lets me go where my imagination takes me. Reading a lot inspires and instructs me. Working on one project at a time keeps me focused. My lack of completion — well that’s a toughy. Have to think about that one!
What virtues lurk within your vices? Let’s mine them for gold — and be unstoppable!
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