The Advantage of Disadvantage, Early

The doctor said the child won’t run.  Foot problems.  This child will need special shoes.  Even with them, this child won’t ever quite run.

A mom and dad heard that about their only child.  They didn’t quite believe it.  No, they took it as no absolute fact.  Instead, they took the child to another doctor, who said – throw out the special shoes.  Get this child some sneakers, and watch.

They did, then caught their first sight of advantage.  The child ran the child’s way.  Learned it the way the child knew how, deep down.

Their child more than learned to run.  The child learned to be extraordinary.  A star student.  Star tennis athlete.  College prodigy.  ROTC, then U.S. Army.  Then Army helicopters.    Combat helicopters.  The rank of Captain.  Unit commander.

The child walked, then ran, then soared.  And it all begs the questions – did early disadvantage help cause this child’s greatness?   Did the child become a hero because life came hard, early?

In his latest book of thought leadership, Malcolm Gladwell dives into ironies of strength and weakness. Borrowing from the title rings out the irony – David beat Goliath.  David was not weak where he appeared.  He was strong.  Stouter than the giant before him.

Likewise, the child about whom a doctor said, this child will not run.

Consider, in the end here, this child’s legacy.  Her name — Kimberly Hampton.  Brilliant student.  Outstanding athlete.  Rank of Captain in the 17th Cavalry, U.S. Army.

Captain Kimberly Hampton died flying an army chopper over Falujiah, Iraq, 13 years ago.  Shot down, plunging those who loved her into lasting heartbreak.  And yet far beyond her final breath, the legacy of her overcoming lives.  Death proved no match for so strong a young woman.   In the memories of her parents, in the annals of a book, on memorials and in the invisible inspiration the very thought of her sets off in someone who hears what she became, she thrives on.

A fallen American soldier learned to run, on her own, in the shoes of a child.  Under her tiny feet, the words “she won’t” turned to the clay of “I will.”   Captain Hampton is not gone.  She remains.  Still laying footprints across this human race, far beyond her grave.

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One Response to “The Advantage of Disadvantage, Early”

  1. I have a friend whose child is autistic…they were told a lot of “nevers”. They went home, cried and then let their child lead the way. One of my friend’s favorite sayings is “presume competence.” Another is “Now is not never…and never is a load of crap.” Their daughter thrives and destroys every stereotype…in her own way.

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