The New York Times just ran a remarkable piece on the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen. As she was reflecting on her early days in modeling, Gisele says:
"In the beginning, you know, everyone told me, 'Your eyes are too small, the nose is too big, you can never be on a magazine cover."
Then she adds:
"But, you know what? The big nose comes with a big personality."
The experts were completely wrong, as experts very often are when faced with something new. Gisele's net worth as a model is now estimated to exceed 300 million dollars, and Forbes puts her daily income at around $128,000. She's also appeared eleven times on the cover of American Vogue. The Times reporter is surprised when she says, "My career was never based on pretty." But then the designer Angela Missoni explains:
"With Gisele, there is something different, her energy. Of course, she is super beautiful, but she has this charisma, this presence, this very sexy normality."
Gisele herself attributes her extraordinary success to her energy, hard work, and innate positive attitude that finds the best in any bad situation. Others comment on her grit and ability to rise to the occasion, whatever the circumstances. And it could very well be that the very "imperfections" or "flaws" that everyone complained about at first were actually among the secrets of her success. She had a new and different look. And her inner spirit lit up all the cameras that were turned in her direction.
Of course, there are numerous lessons in such a story. First, that the experts and gatekeepers in almost any industry or walk of life are probably among the least likely to see and appreciate something new and great that comes their way. In politics, fashion, and almost everywhere else, the experts are often among those most baffled by the next new thing.
Second, the inner is more important than the outer in almost any quest for success. Energy, grit, hard work, and a positive attitude can take any of us far.
Third, those things that other people consider to be your flaws might just be important stepping stones to future success. My friend Dave Rendall has a very good book on this called The Freak Factor, and is busy traveling the world explaining to people the strange and yet common alchemy of turning weakness into strength.
Many people are writing recently to tell me about passages early on in my new book The Oasis Within that are helping them greatly to deal with the sort of negativity and obstacles that Gisele initially faced in her career. I'm so happy to hear that the conversations of my characters are making a difference with wisdom people can use! If you have had a good experience with the book but haven't yet let me know, please write me through the website TomVMorris.com and share your story!