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I don’t know about you, but I am just plain fatigued by all the junk in the news these days. As a result, I am finding myself tucking in and trying to keep my head down so that I don’t have to be sucked in by the negative and the crazy. That is, until last night, when I ran across a Facebook post from friends living in San Diego, California.

They were thrilled to share the TED Talk they recently did focused on encouraging others, when meeting new folks, to lean in, ask honest questions and listen. They are qualified to talk about this because they are a unique couple. Steve was born with severe cerebral palsy, is confined to an electric wheelchair and has limited use of his arms. His severe speech impediment also makes him difficult to understand. As his wife, Elizabeth, admits, she was prone to smiling and nodding when they first met, fearful of leaning in to really get to know this “different” person and open herself up to him—fearful of his differences. Fearful of his disability. (He is the LEAST DIS-abled person I know. He recently scaled the face of El Capitan by doing thousands of pull ups over a number of days!) When she overcame that fear and scaled her own mental wall, she found the love of her life.

What struck me was how their message applies to opening ourselves to individuals with disabilities AND to those who might not appear “like” us or have different political opinions. Defensiveness does not keep us safe or right. In fact, it cuts us off and leaves us wanting. I challenge you to catch yourself the next time you retreat. Instead, lean in, open up and reap the benefits!

Watch the Wampler’s TED Talk:

For more info about Steve’s El Capitan climb, check out:

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