Success is an oft misunderstood term.
Many are quick to associate successful people with being perfect at whatever they do.
Despite knowing that no one is perfect, humanity is obsessed with striving for perfection.
In popular culture and media, it is often the ones devoid of weakness who are heralded as heroes.
They project strength, invulnerability and the will to conquer all obstacles in their way.
Did everyone just forget that even superman had his kryptonite?
Skinny and undersized, I only made my high school football team as a third stringer. By the time I entered the ranks of professional fighting, I was only a math teacher holding a master’s in education.
Neither the quickest nor the strongest, I stuck out like a sore thumb from the gnarly bare-knuckle tropes of what was called “human cockfighting” at the time.
Make no mistake, I was proud to represent the sport in my own image.
It allowed me to embrace my differences as I endeavored to develop myself into a complete mixed martial artist.
Though not bestowed with any physical gifts, I relied on a pure grit and grind work ethic to compete against the very best, eventually becoming a three-time World Champion.
Others have experienced similar success.
Unbecoming of a G-man, FBI agent Jack Garcia instead used his unusual size and jovial personality to successfully infiltrate the deepest ranks of the Gambino mob family. His incredible tale of espionage is definitely worth a listen on Quite Franklin.
My brand was never predicated on athleticism. Like Garcia, I leaned on my background in education, exposing myself to the cutting edge of mixed martial arts.
I stood at the vanguard of modern MMA evolution, as one of the first professional fighters to marry various combat disciplines into an effective fighting style.
Far from perfect, I sought out the expertise of nutritionists, trainers and adopted an intellectual approach towards training.
Determined to out prepare my opponents, I underwent vigorous conditioning and workout regimes unheard of then. My body of work is the result of these combined efforts.
Talking to Garcia on the Quite Franklin podcast, I instantly recognized similarities with our stories.
We both bucked traditions, embraced what was different about ourselves, found our footing and had great success.
Sometimes, what others perceive as your weakness can actually be a strength.
Chided for being unrealistic? Sounds a lot like Elon Musk’s plans to put man on Mars. Yet, there are many today who consider Musk a visionary.
Self-confidence is often misunderstood as arrogance, while disorganized people are actually among some of the most creative minds out there.
My point is, you don’t need to be perfect in order to achieve success. Be comfortable in acknowledging your imperfections and accepting your flaws and weaknesses.
Then, learn to appreciate your qualities and work on harnessing their positive aspects.
Just like yin and yang, there is a balance to life. The challenge is to exist within that harmony by balancing our strengths and weakness.
That is what makes us human.