Anook is a beautiful jet black lurcher cross collie with a white chest and white socks. He has a very interesting habit. He loves jumping up for his Kong Toy when it is filled with treats. So much that his guardian, Londo would tie it up on a branch in the garden, and without fail, he would be jumping up for it. It was like a game. Every time he got it, the bar would be set higher. Finally, it reached a height that he could not reach. Every day, he would look at it and jump. Usually, after a few tries, Londo would lower the Kong for him to reach it. It would appear that it was impossible to reach such a great height.
One fine windy autumn day, the leaves were dancing in mini hurricanes and the air was crisp and fresh. Anook ran up to the impossible-to-reach Kong, looked at it, adjusted his feet a bit, and jumped. Perhaps it was the wind, perhaps he slept well and was well-rested, or perhaps the branch swayed with the wind downwards. Regardless, he did the impossible and held on to the Kong in his mouth! He got his prize. Londo could not believe his eyes!
Have you achieved things in life that were considered impossible to start off with? Have you got dreams that you have ruled out as you thought it was too far to reach and achieve? How do people achieve what is deemed impossible? How do you gauge what is your limit?
Our beliefs are shaped by the environment, from the influences and people we meet. A belief is nothing more than a sense of certainty. You are not born with beliefs. It was incorporated either consciously or sub-consciously by your environment you grew up in. Perhaps, it was your parents’, your best friend’s or someone that influenced you a lot and hence you decided to adopt their beliefs. You will always act in a way that is congruent to how you see yourself, your self-identity. Over time, you find more ‘evidence’ to support the belief you hold, making it more and more certain until it becomes a conviction. At this point in time, it is extremely difficult to question that conviction as you believe it is true.
The extent of our imagination is also affected by the references you have in your life. A reference is nothing more than an experience, real or not, that allows you to see what is possible. For example, if you have baked the most delicious chocolate cake that had won awards before, it would have provided a reference that you are capable of baking great cakes compared to someone who has not used an oven before. However, if that someone (who has not used an oven before) had you as a friend, that could also have provided a reference for him to think, “If he could do it, so can I!” The thing about references that it can also be completely made up. Like the Wright brothers did not have a real-life reference to show them that a machine could be built to allow men to fly. Their reference was purely in their mind from their imagination.
Why is this important in achieving goals or seemingly impossible goals? Whether you can achieve your goals or not simply starts with your beliefs and references. If you think you can or can’t, you are both right. Have you tried to dissuade someone from doing something seemingly impossible that they believe in? Or have you ever tried to persuade someone to do something completely achievable but they did not believe so? It is hard!
What about you? How do your beliefs and references shape up to allow you to do what you want to do? Are they limiting your growth as a person? Or are they empowering you to achieve the seemingly impossible?
When you are committed enough to sit down and write out the goals you want to achieve, do you have this belief that what a mind conceives and believes, the mind can achieve? Are your beliefs limiting or limitless? A limiting belief would be something like, “I don’t know how to do this. At my age, I should have known better by now. Perhaps, I am not meant to do this.” Or “This is not the norm. It couldn’t work. Others have tried and failed. Better play safe.” Do you remember when you were a child and your mind was free? Nothing was impossible. Over time, conditioning from the environment has made beliefs to be more limiting and limiting.
What about your references? Are you exposed to an environment that allows you to see things that are possible? Remember the only reason a baby knows to start walking is that she sees adults walking around her, providing her a reference. Imagine if she grew up perfectly healthy but does not see anyone walking, she may not have walked in the end as there was no reference. Sometimes, a huge amount of references can be accessed through books and other people’s lives. It may not be directly available in your immediate environment. Leaders are readers. By reading a book, it is almost like having a conversation with the author. Don’t forget that references can be imaginary too. Imagination is more important than knowledge (Einstein). Let your imagination run wild, like when you were a child. No limits.
When your beliefs are limitless and your references are vast, your goals would appear to be more achievable. When you read ‘Impossible’ as ‘I-M-Possible’ and see the IMP in ‘IMPossible’ for what he is, merely an imp, your belief would carry you through. When your references are vast and wide enough to allow you to see what is achievable, nothing can stop you. When you are able to see the possibility or better, the probability of your goal happening, the next important question would be ‘Why’. ‘Why do you want to achieve it?’ A strong enough WHY will overcome any HOW (but that is for another time!).
If you are not achieving your goals, what is holding you back? Are the reasons (excuses) real or simply limiting beliefs? So, Anook, filled with positive expectancy and active faith, has reached ‘impossible’ heights and made it possible. What about you? Change your thinking, change your behaviour, change your results.
‘Our mental models are not so much views and beliefs that we hold tightly as they are views and beliefs that tightly hold us.’ – Chip Souba