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Pop Culture

Artist's compelling story of 'embracing' his shaking hand is a valuable lesson for us all

A limitation just might be your liberation.

art, neurology, community, limitation, pursuing dreams
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A limitation just might be your liberation.

When Phil was in art school, he developed a shake in the worst possible place: his hand.

He thought it meant the destruction of his dream to become an artist, so he left art school and quit art altogether.

When visiting a neurologist years later, Phil learned that the shake was the result of permanent nerve damage and could not be corrected. He was right to have given up. Or so he thought. But the doctor had a different outlook on what that prognosis meant for Phil's art. He said the seven words that Phil will never forget: "Why don't you just embrace the shake?"


And from that day on, that's exactly what he did. Letting his shake run free, he discovered new ways of drawing, used new materials, and completely changed his perspective on the type of art he wanted to create. When he embraced the shake, he realized he could still make art — he just had to get creative. And that's when he learned an important lesson:

Embracing a limitation can drive creativity. A limitation just might be your liberation.

Boom. Mind blown.

In the talk, Phil goes on to give examples of how he applied that principle to his work and life, with some pretty amazing results.

No, really. They're incredible.

But this isn't all about Phil.

It's about you too.

What would happen if you "embraced your shake"?

Watch the Ted Talk video by Phil Hansen below:

This article originally appeared on 08.26.15

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