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How to Turn a Disadvantage Into an Advantage

Updated on March 26, 2020
Julius Kibathi profile image

Julius is a student in Kenya. He believes that the world can be shaped through literature. His works are a masterpiece and are known widely.

How does one flip a disadvantage into an advantage? Overcoming problems and disadvantages is not as hard as many poeple think.

First, we need to understand what a disadvantage is.

A disadvantage is an unfavorable circumstance or condition that reduces the chances of success or effectiveness.

Disadvantages differ with people. What one may think is a disadvantage to him/her may not be to another person. (e.g. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saw it as a disadvantage to be in the royal family due to certain circumstances, another may see it as an extreme advantage to be in such a position)

We all know the legendary story passed on through generations about the young monk who won all his battles with only one arm.

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time in a village in China there was a young boy who wished to learn wrestling. He searched for a good master who could train him to be the best. In an unfortunate turn of events the boy lost his right arm. The boy was determined. He had infinite faith in his master who had been teaching the boy for about six months. The boy’s master thought of various moves he could teach to a boy with only one hand and decided on one move. The master taught the boy the same move everyday for one year. The boy was curious as to why his master was not teaching him any other moves. The master was patient and replied,"Son, it is practice that makes a man great and it is practice that makes a man perfect. It is the duration of practice that determines your ability succeed." The boy still was not convinced, but did not ask his master the question again.

Years later the boy enrolled in a competition. He saw others practise other moves before their matches. He was discouraged after seeing this. When his match came he practised the one and only move he had learnt in the past couple of years. He fought the match with courage and to his surprise won the match with one move! Thereafter he won all the other matches of the tournament. After his victory the boy asked his master why he won. The master said, "When I saw you with only one arm, I was confused and doubtful of whether you could still continue with wrestling. It is after I saw your courage and determination that I thought of a suitable move for a boy with one arm. The move I taught you has only one reversal: to catch the right arm. This is why you won."


"New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings"

— Paulo Coelho

What do we learn from this story?

  • We must first acknowledge the disadvantage we have. In this case, the boy's master fathomed the fact that the boy only had one arm, his left arm.
  • After recognising the disadvantage we have, we should not lose hope or be demoralised by it.
  • Taking action is the next important step. The boy started training for about six months. Practice, eventually, is what made the boy strong.
  • Specialize on your strengths. Now that you are aware of your weaknesses, you should focus on being aware of your strengths and developing them.
  • We notice that an the boy was able to use his lack of a right arm as a benefit. This is an important lesson, that, every disadvantage comes with its own advantage. And I mean every.
  • After flipping your disadvantage into an advantage it is important that you perfect it.


Well, are there any disadvantages with no advantages?

The way some people go about their lives is not to look at any of the challenges they have to pass through as advantages and disadvantages. If you stamp in your mindset that something is a disadvantage, you have already created an obstacle and a scenario where you have to work hard and try to turn it into an advantage - which is not easy. Forget the ‘disadvantage’ and just look upon it as a certain challenge in your thought processes. In this way it will be less of a disadvantage and become dynamic that needs a little bit of tweaking. Then it will take on a different meaning and this basically can only be an advantage to you and your way of dealing with things.


© 2020 Julius Kibathi


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