Cultivate your advantage
Where others see weakness, find your strategic strength
Kyle Maynard lost every wrestling match for his first year and a half in the sport. Most would have expect that result. He was born with a rare condition that left him without arms or legs.
Wrestling being a game of holds and grips, other families took pity on Kyle. Some even called his participation in the sport a form of child abuse. At the time, this made sense: Kyle reported he cried on the way home from the matches he lost. How could he compete with a body that was almost entirely torso?
Within a few years, though, Kyle started winning. Then he went undefeated. Then he went to US Nationals and finished third place. Then he was inducted into the US National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In a physical sense, nothing. Kyle has the same body he’s always had. He’s still the same person. But in an interview, Kyle’s said he changed the way he thought about his raw physical tools and turned what he once perceived as his greatest weakness into his greatest strength.
He learned to maneuver in such a way as to confuse his opponents. He learned to strike with speed. He learned it was an advantage to face opponents that had never faced someone like him. He learned to use his body’s very differentness itself—the fact that he didn’t have limbs like others meant his body weight was distributed differently, making him in some ways harder to handle for full-limbed wrestlers. He took the thing that once made him pitiable and tearful and used it to grow strong.
He's called this his “cultivated advantage.”
It’s not hard to spot, hard to make happen. It starts with honest assessment of who you are and what you can do. What are your likely limits and what can you push past?
Then, assess yourself against your opponents. How can you use what you have, perhaps in new ways, against the gaps and seams you can exploit in your adversary?
Advantages don’t just spring from nowhere. You’ve got to grow them, you’ve got to make them, you’ve got to cultivate them.
Just ask Kyle Maynard.