No Arms, No Legs, Huge Heart

Written by Dr. U   

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The answers to the following two questions are the same: (1) What is the most popular inspirational video chosen by students from all around the world?; and (2) Who is someone you never heard about, but can inspire you within 3 seconds of seeing him speak?

Answer: Nick Vujicic who was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia without arms or legs. Nevertheless he created a full life for himself, and he inspires countless others.

When I asked my international students at the UCLA Anderson School of Management to submit a video clip they found especially motivating, the top response was Nick’s video. This is extraordinary because the students come from everywhere—all over Asia and East Asia, throughout Europe, the Middle East, North and South America.

Nick models how to bring a potent force of personality, personal courage, and upbeat orientation to face the challenges life presents.

Whenever you’re discouraged, watch his video.


As you watch, I expect one of the reasons you’ll find that his message takes hold and gains traction is due to the psychological principle of social comparison, developed originally by Leon Festinger in 1954. We can use it as a powerful motivational tool in work and life.

Social Comparison theory points out that often we look outside ourselves to evaluate ourselves. If we choose external comparison targets that make us feel disempowered then we feel worse.

But if we choose external comparison targets such as Nick—who perseveres and triumphs despite extraordinary challenges—we get inspired.

The way Nick comes across in his video brings up two more important points about what to do when you’re feeling discouraged:

1. Focus on what you HAVE, not what you’ve lost.
2. Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t.

Think of it this way–

If ANYONE has a reason to focus on what he DOESN’T have, it’s Nick.

If ANYONE has a reason to focus on what he CAN’T do, it’s Nick.

He doesn’t do it. You won’t hear him complaining; you wont hear a moment of self-pity.

You get the feeling he doesn’t have time to be discouraged. He’s too busy getting on with it. He’s got things to do. For him, it’s not about his limitations; it’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about what he DOES have, and what he CAN do.

What do you think about Nick Vujicic and his message? Add your thoughts in the comment section below!

Thanks much to Lidia Fahmy for bringing this video to my attention.

Learn more about Nick’s story, see more pictures, more videos and his other offerings at: http://attitudeisaltitude.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex November 7 at 10:48 pm

Very nice post, John! Nick Vujicic is a very inspirational person and his experiences remind us that we should all be thankful. As you said, he has been through many difficulties yet he doesn’t give up and refuses to complain. Too often, we focus on what we lost/don’t have and what we wish we could have. Yet, in most cases, we have what we need.
I also like how you mention that Vujicic is too busy to be discouraged. Keeping one’s mind focused and busy can also help one stay positive.
Thanks for the post John. Its very inspirational and helpful.

Dr. U January 3 at 4:00 am

I also like how you mention that Vujicic is too busy to be discouraged. Keeping one’s mind focused and busy can also help one stay positive.

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