How My Embarrassing Weakness Became a Strength

 In Business Success, Inspirational, Personal development, Rick Conlow

I was a senior in high school, and I arrived at school at the main entrance. Little did I know that my weakness would soon set me up for failure. I noticed people were wearing black arm bands.

I asked a friend, “What’s up?”

He said, “I don’t know but everybody is doing it.”

The Protest 

Apparently, a protest was being organized. At a table near the entrance of the school, a few students were handing out black construction paper, cut out to form an armband. I grabbed one and followed a crowd to the cafeteria. It had a stage at the front of the room. I jumped up to sit on the edge of it. More students began to pour into the room. A few teachers appeared and leaned on the walls with wariness in their eyes.

Someone shouted, “Let’s do it!”

Another proclaimed, “It’s time!”

Which caused a cheer from others and an applause. Suddenly it became quiet. The student council President turned to the stage and saw me sitting there.

He said, “Rick, you be the leader.”

My Weakness and Failure

Stillness filled the cafeteria as all turned to look at me for answers and wisdom. I immediately thought, me? Not ME! I am a shy person. I didn’t even know what this whole thing was all about. I tried to say something. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. For a few minutes, quietness hung in the room. It seemed like an eternity. I couldn’t say anything even though I desperately tried to talk. I felt myself becoming the incredible shrinking man from embarrassment. Finally, people turned away, others started talking. I became oblivious to their conversations and froze to the stage. After everybody left, I went to my first class, late. Throughout the day, my friends and others would see me in the hallway or classroom, and say, “Great speech, Rick!” They’d laugh, as my humiliation deepened. My failure intensified. My weakness was laid bare.


As time went on a resolve fortified me. I decided that one day I would get up in front of people and speak positively, enthusiastically, competently and powerfully. Over the years I learned to that, through diligence and putting myself out there speaking and attending numerous engaging training sessions to get better. Over the last twenty years, I have spoken to or trained thousands of others on all kinds of stages. My embarrassing weakness had become a strength because I (thankfully) learned and applied myself.

Summing It Up

I primarily consult with or coach managers in varied industries. I find that so many fail or struggle unnecessarily (regardless of their education level or experience). They are unwilling to consistently put in the time and effort (on their own) to keep learning, to elevate their effectiveness or success as leaders. From my experience, I know that their potential is significantly greater. If only they would realize what I learned and Freud said: “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

By the way, do you want to elevate your performance and more effectively lead your team? Check out this complimentary Creating a High Performance Team Ebook.

Want to accelerate your career? Get a coach, see Rick’s Dynamic Coaching Plans.

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