If we were to hike on rough trails with chains and shackles on, it would make the hike nearly impossible. At best, the progress that we would make would be very slow, and the danger of harm would be great. In the same way, if we allow the chains and shackles of our past to hold us back in our trek of life, any progress that we do make will be significantly limited.
In this Wisdom Note, we will make some good progress as we have removed the chains and shackles from last week. We come around a sharp curve in the trail to discover that a boulder rolled into the path last night and has completely blocked the trail before us. Since the path is so narrow at this point, we wonder how we will continue. The boulder is too large to climb over, and we can’t go around without falling off the cliff. Is it time to give up? We know that this path is now blocked “forever,” so we turn back.
For most people in life, once they run into these types of roadblocks, they never try again. They become fleas with the limiting belief that once they run into a block they can never get through it, so they adjust their expectations to the lower level. Let’s take a look at how this type of thinking can really stifle your potential in life.
In our previous Wisdom Note, we looked at training the largest of animals, the elephant. Today we are looking at training one of the smallest of insects, the flea.
Your beliefs about yourself have a profound influence on your success in learning and your success in life. Your beliefs are the foundation upon which you build many of your thought patterns, your attitudes, and your actions. Unfortunately, these beliefs, particularly self-beliefs, can be limiting in nature.
We can learn about this principle (surprisingly) from a jar full of fleas. If you fill a jar with fleas and place the lid on the jar, the fleas will jump and hit their heads on the lid. But leave them for a few days, and the fleas will adapt to their environment. To avoid the pain of hitting their heads, eventually, they will not jump as high as the lid. A very interesting phenomenon with the fleas is that once they have learned to jump only so high, even their offspring that are born after the lid is removed will not jump any higher than their parents.
So, what do we learn from these fleas? Just as the fleas began with the capacity to jump higher than the lid of the jar, we as human beings have the capacity to accomplish great things. However, through your experiences and your own reasoning, you sometimes come to believe that your ability to succeed is limited. As with the fleas, many times our children and grandchildren will not excel further than we do.
Paula and I have had the opportunity to work with many business clients over the years, as well as with friends and family members. We have observed in many cases that these individuals and business were held back by their self-limiting beliefs. We call it the “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Syndrome.” Through limited beliefs and fears, what is believed is what comes true. Our beliefs about ourselves and our capacity to succeed limits us in our lives. The beliefs may have begun based on some sort of experience, like past failures, but a temporary setback, even if it is dramatic, should never be interpreted as a life-long ultimatum.
So, how can you move beyond the limitations that you place on yourself? The following suggestions will help you begin to shape positive, self-affirming beliefs so you can begin to move forward in your learning and in your life more effectively.
- Flood your life with new, empowering knowledge. Placing new beliefs into your mind can help empower you and give you a new perspective. I have found that motivators like Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Earl Nightingale, and Brian Tracey have helped me to see the world from a new, empowered perspective. Read their books and listen to their courseware. I also recommend reading the Bible with special emphasis on the books of Proverbs and Psalms. I have gained deep personal beliefs about my own worth, and these beliefs have given me a foundation of confidence in myself and in others.
- Remove disempowering relationships and messages from your life. Some individuals are toxic in nature and actually tear down everyone around them. To achieve true success, it is vital that you eliminate these individuals from your life wherever possible. In addition, I strongly recommend limiting the media you listen to, view, and interact with. Modern media shows can heavily influence your perspective of yourself and your life, so be sure to control the flow of information so that true, positive, empowering knowledge is obtained.
- Set goals. Plan out what you would like to accomplish in your education and in your life and then identify exactly what must be accomplished to reach those goals. When I plan out exactly what I must do to succeed, I realize that the first few steps are actually doable, and I often begin to move toward my goals.
- Do something that is difficult. Force yourself outside of your comfort zone. Accomplishing a difficult task can help build confidence in your abilities and give you the skills and tenacity required to do something that is even harder. Success breeds success, so set out to do something difficult and worthwhile.
- Recognize setbacks as temporary. “There is no failure, only feedback. There are no mistakes, just lessons learned,” Robert Allen. Viewing your shortcomings in this manner enables you to learn from your experiences as you move toward personal success.
Don’t allow fear to hold you back. As the Apostle Paul wrote to his student Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
I believe in the power of the individual to achieve great success. As I work to improve and heighten my self-belief, I find that I am blessed with opportunities to move forward in exciting new ways. I close with a powerful quote, “If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness,” Les Brown.
In our next Wisdom Note, we will explore creating results in our life.