A former boss used to say, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” When she would say this, I’d roll my eyes and think, oh what a Pollyanna! However if you examine how our brains work, she’s right! Our brain is designed to filter out information that doesn’t fit with our self-image or capability.
This phenomenon has been documented throughout history. I was first exposed to the concept when I attended Lou Tice’s workshop Investment in Excellence. He explained how the brain works and illustrated his points using the example of a four-minute mile. Once the record was broken, multiple people broke it within 30 days. The ability to see that you can achieve something is sometimes the thing that actually allows it to happen.
Lou tells another great story that illustrates the same point.
A potato farmer in Australia entered a long grueling race that typically took five days to run. The farmer was dressed in his normal attire - overalls and work boots. To the local media the farmer was a joke — he was older than the rest of the runners and he was ill-equipped. However, the farmer who was a joke at the start of the race ended the race a winner. Not only did he win, but he won the race by a day and a half! How did he pull off such a huge win? He did so because he really didn’t believe or didn’t even know about the common race methodology suggested by the experts to run for 14 hours, then sleep for six. He just kept running, like the age-old story of the tortoise and the hare.
I think that by not focusing on what the world sees as limitations —but looking past to what we want — allows us to reach our own inner potential.
What do you see as your potential? What belief could be holding you back?
“Sometimes what holds us back is not who we think we are but who we think we are not.” ~Anonymous
Photo source: Tim Milburn