Hello, all. Today I want to share with you some thoughts concerning the concept of limits, and the idea of limitless potential.
“There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.” – Bruce Lee
What drives us?
We are driven by our desire to fulfill our potential, to share what we may and become the person we’ve always known we can be. With this drive to fulfill our potential and follow our passions, there naturally comes a tremendous amount of excitement and energy. We are invigorated by the prospect that, yes, we really can make our dreams come true; the power is ours. It’s almost as if we are a superhero, this is how powerful following our passions can make us feel. There seems to be nothing we cannot do.
The possibilities really do seem limitless. But what happens when we encounter a moment of doubt?
Then the future suddenly doesn’t seem so limitless. It seems all too limited. There is no longer a vast horizon in front of us; the world which seemed so expansive and inviting suddenly seems much smaller. In moments like this, that sense of excitement we feel when things are going well is turned completely on its head. We all have been there. No road is without its bumps. Indeed, it is inevitable that we will all encounter some form of setback in the course of our lives, our careers, what have you. We all come to a moment, a crossroads, when we must stop and take stock of our current course. It is the critical moment.
“It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
What did you do at that moment? Did you allow the perceived limit to define you, or did you acknowledge it and then move on toward your goals? Did you continue to chip away, or did you turn around? All so often, decisions like this come down to fear. Fear can strike, suddenly and severely, when we encounter setbacks. We can become consumed by paralyzing self-doubt when things don’t go our way. We must not let our fears define us. Interestingly, most fears are not thrust upon us; we often choose fear. We fear those things which are perceived to be beyond our limits. Fear is nothing else but self-limitation.
“…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
We may be optimistic by nature, and yet all too often we tell ourselves that we must be defined by limitation. Or we allow others to help define what we can and cannot do, and come to lose sight of that inner sense of unbridled optimism when we were on a roll, when the world seemed to be inviting us, calling us, to “go for it.” What does it mean to go for it – to fulfill your potential? It may mean a great deal of things but it is ultimately a simple concept – to seek knowledge, to seek the truth, to find what we were meant be, to share ourselves and our unique gifts with the world, and to never give up in the pursuit of those goals. Aspiration is the key to success, and limitless aspiration is the key required to maintain the strength and determination needed to persevere and ultimately triumph over our obstacles.
When we look in a mirror, what do we see? Do we see true selves? In truth we do not so much as see ourselves as we truly are, but rather as the kind of person our internal judgments, our fears and doubts and self-criticism, tell us we are. Put differently, that individual whom we see in the mirror is so often defined by the limits we and others ascribe to us. All too often this person is in part defined by others. We perceive the person we ‘are’ as the person we believe others think we are. But if that person in the mirror is based on our own belief, however influenced by others that might be, then, once we recognize this, there are no true limits. We should believe in who we want to believe in. Our limits exist only by our desire to keep them.
“Every man has three characters – that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.” – Alphonse Karr
Take that defining moment of fear and doubt, and make it successful. Make it yours. Come to see that person in the mirror as the person you want to be. You are the one who is going to make this happen. You are the person who must be strong, whether for you, for those you care for, for the community as a whole, or just for yourself.
Those moments are for you to conquer; those moments are for you to make your own.
That moment is your defining moment.