Aimee Mullins: A Spartan at Heart

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Anthony Adragna

Being dealt physical or mental challenges does not mean we should give up on our dreams. Sometimes it is the fight to overcome those barriers to success that can open new doors to us. Take the inspirational case of Aimee Mullins.

Aimee is a successful actress, model, former intelligence analyst for the government and a champion athlete. She ran the 100-meter dash in 17.01 seconds and jumped 3.14 meters in the long jump.  And she had both of her legs amputated at the age of one.

Born with fibular hemimelia, a rare condition in which the legs develop without fibulas, Aimee endured years of teasing at the hands of other children. Rather than feel sorry for herself, Mullins took her physical handicap and turned it into an asset. In recent years, she has transformed the ideal of beauty in a model, become a competitive athlete, starred in five movies and, just for kicks, graduated from Georgetown University.

Mullins told the Huffington Post that everyone has some sort of handicap and most are not physical. “I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness… their ‘disability.’ And I’m certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our belief and confidence in our own abilities. People presume my disability has to do with being an amputee, but that’s not the case; our insecurities are our disabilities, and I struggle with those as does everyone. The good news is that as we grow and change, so do our disabilities, and the thing that once seemed to be our weakness can actually be where we find huge strength and opportunity. I have found great power in taking my ‘difference’ out for a spin in a very public way.”

Rather than despair at the bad luck she was dealt, Mullins opted to turn her disability into an asset. Through hard work, determination and stubbornness she was able to achieve her goals. First, she competed in the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where she participated in two events. Then, in 1999, she participated in a series of fashion events for renowned designer Alexander McQueen.

Many of us will not have to face the unique challenges that Mullins has. She teaches us that often our greatest challenges come from within and go beyond our physical limitations. When we are mentally strong and refuse to say “I can’t” then we can accomplish great things.

So take Mullins’ message to heart. Everyone has some form of disability within, as she says.  And we all know what our insecurities are—those areas that we don’t believe that we can ever excel in.  Only when we confront our disabilities head-on, whether they be physical or mental, do we discover our true capacity. You might think that a Spartan Race is a laughable goal.  But if you laugh it off, you’ll never know whether you truly have the Spartan Spirit within you.  And here’s a hint: most people who look hard enough for it will find it inside, along with a bunch of other positive qualities like self-confidence, and determination, that they didn’t even know they had.

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