By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)
On my recent trip to Colombia I had the unique pleasure to see first hand one of the greatest examples of overcoming adversity I have ever witnessed. A Colombian man in his 40’s named “Francisco” on the streets of Bogota sharing his talent and love of painting. What struck me, was not the paintings themselves at first, but how he was able to create them using only his right foot, because that’s all he had to work with. Having severely deformed legs and born without arms to make matters more challenging, he was a living example of taking lemons and making lemonade. Colombia is a tough enough country to climb out of the barrio with all of your appendages in order, which only makes his achievement more impressive.
To see Francisco creating right before our eyes these wonderful little scenes was simply amazing. How he was able to manipulate not only the brush, screw the cap on and off the oil paint tubes, blend the colors with his toes and manipulate the brush like a well trained artist stopped everyone in their tracks.
I imagined as I watched him create his art how much more amazing his work would be if he had arms and hands like the old masters. I quickly realized some of the magic of what he was creating was because of how he was creating it. It made the work extra special. Each piece he created left with a small piece of his story attached. His courage resonated in every brush stroke.
It was not until a few days later that it sunk in what I had learned from my short time with Francisco. How we all must face challenges in our lives and work and deal with the task at hand with the tools in reach. The great creators and innovators are always able to do great things with whatever is in front of them. For innovators in this space, our challenges seem an unworthy comparison. Time constraints, insufficient budgets or a difficult partner don’t compare to Francisco and his 10 digits too few. Think about it the next time you face a difficult situation, and wonder what commitment and focus Francisco must have had when he first faced the thought of painting.
Francisco sold the paintings for $10,000 pesos each, about $5. I bought 2. Worth every penny, for what I left with was a lesson more profound then his art.
Whatever our challenges are, I suggest we all consider Francisco’s predicament and take inspiration from his fortitude. Be committed to do great things against difficult odds and make success. When you do, the fruit is plenty. Your chosen audience will admire you for it and sing your praises to others, like I do here for Francisco, and how he played his hand, with his foot, and won.