Thoughts on Being a One-Eyed Man in a World of Blind People

by Andy Wood on August 19, 2010

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom

The happiest man I ran into yesterday had a distinguishing feature.  He only had one arm. 

I don’t know is name, but I know his game; he’s a manager at one of the local fast-food Italian restaurants in town.  In the short time we were there during the lunch rush, I saw him take orders at the register, manage those delicious breadsticks they’re famous for giving away, manage his team to make sure orders got out and the place stayed clean, and – most importantly – see to it that his customers were happy.

We sure were.  And it started with him showing us that he was happy to be there.  He has an infectious smile and a good-natured laugh that invites you to laugh along.  Sure comes in handy when the lunch line is snaking out the door.

Hmmm.  Maybe he’s the reason the line was so long.  Just sayin.’

Meanwhile, Back in Hebrew Class

My old friend Randall has returned to the hallowed halls of seminary.  Round 1 earned him a Master’s in Church Music; now he’s in theology school, and loving it.

Randall told me yesterday that he and a colleague have been asked to be a grader for one of the professors there.

The Hebrew professor.  Ugh.

(Advice to first-year Hebrew students:  Don’t skip the first day of class, assuming all you’ll get is the syllabus.  Don’t ask me how I know.)

Anyway, Randall and his grading colleague were set to meet with the prof yesterday, and they got there first.  Just in time for each to share his apprehension about grading others in a subject that they themselves were still learning, and had so far to go.

Mid-fear, in walked the professor, and they were caught – fears flying and red-faced.  They admitted their concerns, and the new boss had some profound (and funny) wisdom:

Gentlemen, in a world of blind men, the one-eyed man is king!

I’m still laughing at that.  And meditating 

And listening.

Wisdom for the Challenged

Beyond being just too dang funny, this nothing-short-of-a-proverb is applicable in more ways than I can name. 

It speaks to leadership – all you need to do is see past the blindness or short-sightedness of those who follow you.

It speaks to teaching – all you need to know is one lesson more than those you teach.

It speaks to parenting – your “one eye” will seem for the longest time to your children to be positioned in the back of your head.  (“How does she know that?”)

Do you want to lead?  Find the blind and point the way.  Better still, show the way.

“But what about my limitations?” 

Find somebody with fewer.  There are plenty of prospects.

I love it, love it, love it!

You’d Be Amazed Who Responds to Your Strength

See, here’s the problem.  We look at our one-eyed situation and assume it’s a liability because we compare ourselves with two-sighted people in a 20/20 world.  In the first place, that assessment just isn’t true in most cases.  In the second place, we’re comparing ourselves to the wrong crowd.

Here’s another thought.  Maybe in leading the “blind” with our “good eye,” we can gain sight – or at least insight – in the areas we lack.

One more thought:  Those “blind” people have other senses about them.  And they can tell when someone else has what they lack.  So as I gain, in whatever arena that is (confidence, finances, direction, wisdom, knowledge, whatever), they start asking for directions.  Then they start sending out “blind people signals” to the other “blind” people – “There is somebody who can help you find your way!”

So What’s Your Excuse?

Okay, so life has thrown you a curve.  You’re now limping along with limitations, wounded by letdowns, scarred by the evil of others, or just scared that you’re being asked to stand and deliver when you’d prefer to sit and think about it.  Worse, sometimes your limitations are the result of colossal failures of your own making.  (Don’t ask me how I know that, either.)

Get over it.

There is still someone willing and wanting to look to you as the greatest or nearest example they know.  An example of knowledge.  An example of experience.  An example of wisdom.  An example of redemption.  An example of hope.  (Are you getting this?  I could go on and on.)

What I’m saying is that there is a beat up, ignorant, yearning, directionless world of people who desperately need to know what you know, go where you are going, or rise from the fall you just stood up from.  So stop your whining, and take your one good eye and see for them.  Stop your bellyaching about what you lack, and take your one good arm (with a big smile) and reach out to them.

Limitations are a construct only of the mind.  Now what was your excuse?

Come Back to SEE Us

The happiest man I ran into yesterday had a distinguishing feature.  He only had one smile.  And yesterday, it seemed to be reserved just for me.  (There was something else about him, but for the life of me, I can’t remember now what it was.)

The lunch rush had passed, and we finally decided to leave.  Walking out the door, the manager looked up from his busyness and saw me leaving.

“Come back and see us,” he beamed.

Believe I will.

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