In his landmark inspirational Bestseller, Illusions, Author Richard Bach, says:
“Argue for your limitations – and sure enough they are yours.”
How many times do you want to try something new, take advantage of a possibly amazing, albeit risky opportunity – when that familiar voice inside of you says, “No, I can’t.” You convince yourself that, “I am too old,” “not smart enough,” “not strong enough,” etc. etc. – and while we argue for those limitations – the opportunity passes, and we remain, just where we are, safe in the status quo.
Of course, not all limits are necessarily a bad thing. Speed limits save lives, and there is surely wisdom in respecting certain physical limitations. If you are allergic to bee stings, there is nothing to be gained by sticking your arm in a beehive.
On the other hand, there are those among us who are even able to break the bonds of what would appear to be physical limitations. In 2001 Erik Weihenmayer became the only blind person in history to climb Mount Everest. We have all seen the martial artist who can break a concrete block with his head – or the Yogi Master who can walk unscathed across a floor of burning embers. What do they all have in common? A belief in themselves that goes beyond their apparent physical limitations.
Now, no one is suggesting that you should believe that you are Superman – and that by the sheer power of your will, you can move mountains – but psychologists all agree that there is much to be gained in life through positive thinking, and breaking with many of the limitations we put on ourselves.
Break the Pattern
It seems straightforward enough. If you are unhappy about something, change it. All things in the universe are governed by cause and effect. Any given result is preceded by a specific action. If you want different results, you have to change the pattern of the preceding action. You cannot expect to lose weight if you keep eating donuts for breakfast every morning. The same goes for getting ahead – you won’t achieve your goals until you get rid of the self-doubts and limits that are weighing you down.
Philosophers, motivational speakers, and psychologists alike say that one of the greatest limiting factors we put on ourselves is negativity.
We are bombarded with negativity. Throughout our lives certainly, we hear the words “no,” or you “can’t do that” far more often then we hear “yes.” Those who are truly successful in their lives or careers, purge themselves of negativity and concepts such as “I can’t.”
It is not failure that holds people back. It is the fear of failure. The only difference between success and failure is the number of times you get up after you have been knocked down. You only fail when you refuse to get back up again. You are probably familiar with the many famous “success stories” that were built on failures. But in case you need to be reminded again, consider these real-life examples:
- The first children’s book written by Dr. Seuss – And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street –was rejected 27 times by publishers, but the 28th decided to publish it, and it sold six million copies.
- The Beatles were told by their first record company, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
- Michael Jordan was cut from his High School Basketball team.
- Beethoven was told by his music teacher “as a composer he is hopeless.”
- Walt Disney was fired from his first job with a local newspaper because the editor said he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas.”
And the list can go on and on with names such as Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, and Harrison Ford, who was told by the Vice President of Columbia films “he would never make it in this business.”
It was Thomas Edison who said, “I never failed. I just found ten thousand ways that didn’t work.”
Have a Plan
The people in these examples do not have anything that you don’t have. But they all have two things in common, not only a belief in their abilities to succeed, but they all had real practical plans to do so. This is perhaps the most important thing to take away from these examples. Belief is one thing – but faith and determination alone are not enough.
It is true that glass ceilings only get in your way when you see them. But it is more than that – Barack Obama was not only propelled to the White House by his unwillingness to accept that he did not belong there but by the way, he used that belief and drive and resolve. It wasn’t enough for him to say that an African American could do this – he had a plan and used emerging technologies such as the internet and social media to turn a traditional political campaign on its ear.
You Can Live Life Without Limits
OK, if you accept that self-limiting behaviors are all in your head, how do you overcome them? To live a life without limits, you must:
- Plan – You have to visualize your goals, and develop a clear plan towards achieving them. Have a specific goal to accomplish every day – the more you accomplish, the more you will believe in your ability to accomplish anything.
- Be Happy – Be happy and be excellent in everything you do. The best way to do that is to live by the 80/20 Rule, focus on the 20% of things that will achieve 80% of your goals.
- Dream Big – Understand that there is absolutely nothing you cannot do once you put your mind, heart, and soul into it.
Stop arguing for your limitations, let go of your fears, and go ahead fail – if you can do that, then there is very little that can get in the way of achieving your goals.