The Tallest Young Man I Know

The other day someone mentioned the term "short men syndrome" to me with a comment that men who are relatively shorter than other men have multitudes of issues and challenges. I had not really thought about this as an issue and then I smiled, I really smiled widely with a huge grin. The person obviously had never met my friend Spencer who is in his 20’s and 2 feet 8 inches tall.

Often in life we think about the importance of having everything. We think more is better. We think being "normal" and fitting in is important. We do things to fill up space all the time.- we fill our calendars, we fill our bellies with food, and we fill our closets and homes with more and more possessions. Sometimes we fill our hearts and we fill our souls. We connect to fill up our network on LinkedIN and Facebook. We add more to our gardens using every little space. We text and crunch words together, abbreviating so we can communicate faster. We interrupt and talk over top of each other in conversations to fill the silence.

What might happen if we focused on not just noticing space, but fostering and creating space. Making space. One of the major mistakes new gardeners make- and I know this as I make it all the time- is trying to grow too many plants close together. Plants need circulating air to breathe, sunshine and rain on their leaves, space in the soil to anchor their roots. They dont want to live too close with other plants that are the same- they like diversity, they like space, they blossom to their full potential when they have this space. In fact, space between and among gives life to what is.

Imagine for a minute that the best thing that could ever happen to you was to have your legs cut off at the hips when you were five years old. Horrific? Not for Spencer. For Spencer he was able to free himself and give himself room to grow in different ways. His legs were a nuisance and did not work. Removing them gave him freedom of movement. Spencer is one of the tallest young men I know. His voice is deep and resonating. He speaks with humble leadership. He laughs a lot and makes others laugh a lot. His eyes are wide and clear, his arms are strong, his hands have been on the ground more than probably any other human being. Spencer enters your life in a way that you never see what he does not have. You see his presence, his heart, his leadership and his ability to inspire youth to create a better world for us all. His motto, "just be happy every day".

Spencer’s story is extraordinary. Probably not extraordinary to Spencer as he is just living his life, using his space to his advantage, and doing everything he dreams of doing. Speaking to youth all around North America and travelling to developing countries to help others is part of his story. Sometimes less is more. Read his newly released book Standing Tall. You can find it at Banyen Books in Vancouver or

About leaderspace

I am 3M- Mom, Mum, and Mama to my son, daughter-in-law, and daughter. They each have their endearments for me which I treasure. It represents the unique relationship I have with each of them. My Leaderspace Blog is a professional blog about leaders and the space around them as I have spent many years observing leaders and their relationships. My Debbie Payne Poetry blog are a collection of poems often stimulated by some kind of motherly-wifely-daughter-sister-friend-environment relationship experience. The poems seem to just bubble up and pour out every now and then. They feel like little gifts that are handed to me to pass on, so I now pass them on to you, my new readers. My hope is that some of the words will spark an emotion that will lead to a hug with someone you cherish. My consulting work focuses on leadership, development, learning and training. if you want to know more check out my profile at, hunt me down on LinkedIN, or check out my websites.
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1 Response to The Tallest Young Man I Know

  1. Jim Taggart says:

    I’m glad you wrote this post. At five foot five (shrinking from 5’6″) I’m a giant compared to Spencer. But in a society fixated on tall, handsome people, which gets equated somehow to intelligence and leadership capability, the reality is often otherwise. Indeed, the issue is less that of short-man syndrome (yes, I know it exists) but in reality it’s more of big-man syndrome. I constantly poke fun at my height. However, I couldn’t begin to count the number of guys I’ve met over almost four decades who have to brag of their hugeness. I just smile.

    I’ve seen enough tear-inducing news reports on soldiers who’ve had limbs blown off in Afghanistan or Iraq (Canadian and American) who are now three feet tall, yet they’ve somehow dug deep inside themselves to refocus and create new goals and careers. When you’re in that state, everything else is bullshit: worrying about buying a new SUV, BBQ, vacation or what the neighbours think.

    Here’s a quotation from a famous short guy:

    “Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.”
    Napoleon Bonaparte

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