These days it seems like getting a compliment is a foreign concept. For so many people saying "I appreciate you" or "You are a great asset to this organization" is an experience they will never receive. I have been on the opposite ends of this spectrum at various times in my life. I have won awards from the National Stuttering Association, I've had articles published in academia and other forms of media. I have also been seen as a nobody...but hey, who hasn't been? But recently, I was discussing some interviewing tips with a friend, and he gave me a very interesting response to the question "What is your greatest weakness?" Well, the logical response in this situation is to turn it into a strength. I responded by saying "I care too much. And I am glad I do, because that allows me to make a difference in this world."
If I were to ask this question of ten different people on the street, it's only logical I'd get ten different responses. There are those who believe that "caring too much" will get you taken advantage of. I don't see it that way. Especially in the times we live in, the ability to care about something (or someone) and show empathy is something never to take for granted. Sure, I often say I am a very passionate supporter of the NSA and stuttering awareness. And yes, perhaps I can be a little obsessive from time to time. Still, being obsessive and focusing on details is a key element to trying to sustain any level of success.
If you have followed the business sections of the local papers (or nationally), you may have heard of a very successful man named Ted Leonsis. He happens to own the Washington Capitals hockey team as well as being the majority owner of the Washington Wizards. In a recent article in "The Hockey News," he was asked why he wanted to own a hockey team. I've noticed that as I am turning 33 in April, I seem to discover a lot of things about life that I am finding out there really is no road map for-like how to embrace a challenge. Some people always run away, and yet others go toward them-even when the risks are too high. Leonsis stated that owning the Capitals was an opportunity you could not get anywhere else: In the National Hockey League, there are 30 teams. But only one will win the Stanley Cup. Not everyone has the ability to want to participate in that kind of challenge.
At the end of the article, though, he made a compelling point which was the inspiration to write this latest rendition of my blog. "As an owner, your job is to set the strategy, articulate the vision, provide the resources, and be very, very, passionate and an advocate for your product. If you're obsessive about all the things that are in your control, you are creating a culture that will allow excellence and success to flourish. I can't play, but I can make the players' locker room is really clean and the water in their showers is hot."
I often ask myself what I am in control of. Am I in control of my stuttering? Yes. I can control the ability to go to speech therapy and commit myself to practicing the techniques I have learned. Am I control of the economy? No, but that doesn't mean I can't take advantage of every chance I have to refine my interviewing abilities. I am in control of what I want out of life. We all make resolutions, and by the first hour, 99.9 percent of them are already broken. Well, maybe it's time to control that from happening again. I have lots of things I want to control. Some of them will pop up at a random moment. Regardless, I've never been so happy to say I care too much. I will always be like that. There is a knight, who is often inexperienced, but pure of heart. The thirties really is the start of my life. And no matter what happens, I'll never stop caring about any person-whether they stutter or not.
I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to those readers of my blog, and a Happy Hanukkah & Kwanzaa. May you celebrate safely and with the ones you love.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters (and cares). Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.