March 9, 2011

Limitation? What Limitation? ~ Sandy Clarke

If our personal limits were removed, are the possibilities endless?

“The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something; the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”
~Randy Pausch

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things.”
~ Morrie Schwartz

I have a small confession to make. Whenever someone utters the phrase, “Anything is possible”, my eyes immediately roll – it has become a reflex action. Usually I reply with, “Anything is possible, huh? Do let me know how you get on with your unaided flight after jumping off the Empire State Building.”

OK, so not everything is possible. Nevertheless, so many of us seem to place so many limitations on ourselves that everything might as well be impossible. So many of us have become experts at producing negative inner-monologues that tell us we can’t do this, there’s no point in trying that, we’ll never get that new job and so there’s no point in even attempting to take any steps forward, because we’re bound to fall backwards even if we try.

By immediately placing limitations on our capabilities, we leave ourselves invariably swimming against the strongest of tides. No athlete has ever broken an Olympic World Record by thinking, “There’s no way I can do this – I’m not good enough” and even though the greatest inventors all failed time and again in their endeavors, they refused to bow to defeat – they did not allow their minds to limit their ability. For every single failure Thomas Edison encountered (and there were a lot!), he viewed them all as taking one step closer to success. After failing thousands of times in trying to perfect the light bulb, Edison was a man who understood that it is always impossible to fail if you never give up.

How many of us have wanted to apply for that dream job or thought of writing that bestselling book or endeavored to travel the world, only to give way instantly to thoughts of limitation? Whatever it is we have dreamed of doing, we always find reasons why we can’t achieve it – there is always some excuse or other that we use to hold ourselves back. All the while, time ticks along at its ever-steady pace and before we know it, months and years have passed and yet here we remain, in the same place and why? Because we have more belief in our limiting fears than we have in ourselves.

At this point, it’s perhaps an idea to state the obvious: achieving any worthwhile goal has its difficulties. In order to begin to remove our limited thinking, we must first accept the reality that yes, we are capable of being whoever we want to be and achieving our goals. But in order to achieve the ideal, we have to dedicate our time, effort and commitment to getting there. As Randy Pausch said, brick walls are only there to stop those who don’t want it badly enough: they never stop those who really want to achieve the success they desire.

When we realize that our goals are achievable, when we understand that there are no limitations except for the ones we place on ourselves, we can take control. And contrary to the idea that dedicating our effort and commitment is hard work, it’s actually extremely empowering when we decide to throw ourselves fully into achieving whatever it is we are setting out to do. If we can take control and deny our mind’s limitations, suddenly there opens up a world of possibilities; suddenly we start to notice a change in our thinking. We don’t even think, “I can do this”, but rather we say to ourselves, “I am doing this!” Anyone who has ever had that thought will be able to tell you that there is nothing more liberating than the feeling that comes with taking the reins and realizing that there’s a reason why it’s called “your life”.

There are very few people who are fully content with their life at present. Usually, there is “something missing”, a feeling of discontentment, something they would like to change for the better. Almost always, the reason that “something” remains missing is because we still hold on to those irritating limitations. Even those we know who are “lazy” probably aren’t simply unable to motivate themselves. More than likely, their laziness stems from their fears, which help produce those limiting self-talks.

Each of us as individuals has enormous potential. There is not a single person who cannot create a positive difference for themselves and others. If only we could look past our perceived limitations and recognize them as being the greatest liars we have ever known, there is no telling what we could go on to achieve if only we allowed ourselves to do so.

Perhaps flying unaided from the top of the Empire State Building will always remain an ambitious endeavor and no doubt my eyes will never be rid of that reflex action every time I hear someone say anything is possible. However, there are countless examples of great people who started off as ordinary mortals before going on to achieve amazing things. The only difference between those great people and us is that they allowed themselves to truly believe in what could be achieved and they resolutely refused to believe in limitations. It may be that not everything is possible, but with a little self-belief, effort and commitment, everything that can possibly be achieved is always possible to achieve.

Limitation? What limitation?

Sandy Clarke is a 27-year old journalist and writer from Scotland, UK.

Having worked for the Scottish Parliament and various newspaper titles, Clarke has a keen interest in current affairs and global politics and as a practicing Buddhist, he also devotes a lot of time to spirituality.

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