René Descartes was once cited as stating, "I think, therefore I am." This has been one of my favorite quotes since I was in high school. Our thoughts are insanely powerful, and yet, most of us allow our thoughts to run freely, impacted by vice, emotion, daily events, other people and so much more.....
Have you ever stopped to think about...thoughts? What you tell yourself? What you choose to believe? If Descartes was right (and, I personally believe that he is mainly correct in this assertion)...then could it be said that by allowing your thoughts.....your feelings..... to direct your behavior and your mindset...that you could be limiting yourself, your options, your potential, and your dreams.
I was talking with someone in the course of business the other day. This person told me that, "I think that when we are young, we naively believe that we can be anything, we can do anything. But as we get older, we realize that the majority of us will live regular, basic lives that never really make an impact. Most of us really are just average."
And this statement hurt my heart for this person.
Why? Because I believe that it severely discounts the beauty and freedom of personal decisions and each person's ability to control and navigate their own mindset. Am I saying that I believe every person has an equal "advantage" to reach any goal? Absolutely not. Aspects like family influence, education, finances, and SO MANY other factor absolutely play a role in people's lives. However, in making assertions like this, people tend to offer examples that are extremely far-fetched. For example:
"I'll never be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company...."
"Only a few people will be an astronaut or brain surgeon....the rest of us just aren't smart enough!"
My question is this...... Did you WANT to be a CEO or an astronaut or a brain surgeon? If that was truly your goal, I do not believe that there is some invisible force preventing you from achieving this goal....other than the fact that you started out thinking that you couldn't. Take, for example, Ben Carson. He started out with almost every DIS-advantage possible. But he worked really hard....and it worked out quite well for him. You can read his story here. It's been one of my favorites since I read his bio in middle school.
Let's take it down to some more logical, accessible examples:
"I can't get into shape. I just don't have time/ like to eat/ can't afford a gym....."
"I'll always be in debt. I'm just not good at managing money...."
"I'd love to go to school, but I just can't afford it...."
"I know there are scholarships...but I don't know where to start looking...."
"I wish I could make more money, but I just don't want to give up my free time by working more/doing a second job....."
My question to these assertions is always this, "Is it that you CAN'T...or that you THINK you can't?"
If we are honest with ourselves, most of the limits we complain about are caused by self-imposed mental processes. If we look around (and, honestly, we usually don't have to look very far), we will find someone that was in way more debt than we are......and they paid it off. We'll find someone who made way less money...that still was able to save. Someone who had no help in paying for their degree for college...that figured out a way to make it work. Someone who works way more hours than we do...because they are working to help themselves and their family. Someone who is was way productive than we are......because they have learned to manage their time better than we do.
When I look at the many, many, MANY people who are SO much further down the path that I want to take, I feel overwhelmed sometimes. I, too, sometimes catch myself wanting to make the excuse, "It was easier for them because ________". But the truth is......I'm just making excuses. Cowardly, selfish, negative excuses that are complete lies.
The people who have the results that we want made conscious decisions. They did things they didn't want to do. Regularly. Consistently. They chose to embrace a mentality of focus and self-control and they endured a lot of less-than-ideal moments. And then we look at the results and foolishly think, "It's easier for them" or make excuses based on situations in our own lives.
Maybe the problem isn't that "all people are average". Maybe the problem is that we choose to embrace an average mentality because it is easier. Maybe the problem is that we allow our thoughts to guide us into a consistent mental playlist that says that others had it easier, that we can't because of (whatever), that if our situation/life was different then we could do (whatever) too.
But we're wrong. Our thoughts are the problem. WE are the problem when we don't try because we are scared or overwhelmed or afraid to look foolish. WE choose to stay where we are when we refuse to have the courage to re-write the mental playlist that runs through our head, playing excuse after excuse, procrastination after reason to procrastinate, blame after blame......
It's easier to believe that we would accomplish or become or achieve if some mythical place of perfection suddenly came to rest at the center of our lives. But it won't. That's not life. As naive as some people say that it is to believe that your thoughts can impact your projection in life, I believe it is even MORE naive to believe that we just are all born on a set track that we cannot impact. Does this mean we will all be astronauts or brain surgeons? No. But why do we automatically jump to these extreme examples? Could it be because it's easier to address the instances that are so far-fetched they are far, far away from the things that we are very aware we DO have control over....but don't have the will or courage to change?
Life can be so hard. At various parts along the journey, we may need to rest. To unplug. To not push. But if we choose to stay in this place of compliance....we miss out on all that we COULD be and all that we WANT to be. We only get one shot at this life...why would we just sit through it?
So am I saying that we should all apply to NASA today? Absolutely not. I'm not saying that anyone has to do anything. I'm merely challenging the all-to-common thought process that things "are what they are" and that we are unable to impact our own lives. This is not a suggestion to try the "think positive" movement (honestly...it's pretty cheesy). This is not an assertion that you should become a yogi or a hippy or spend all your time dwelling on your own life. Rather, my goal is to present the idea for consideration that we truly do have more control over our actions, re-actions, and life than we often like to act like we do. If we take a moment to live intentionally and consider WHAT we want to accomplish, create steps to get there, and then work on those steps...we can. The first and hardest step in making a change is in your THOUGHTS.
"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"- Regina Dugan.
All The Best,
Kelley Dale, CPIA