American politician and author Les Brown is one of my favourite motivational speakers. His speeches were among my favourite things to hear during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Les is hilarious and shares memorable stories to pass his messages across. He often talks about “possibility blindness,” which is the tendency of others to project their limited vision and fear on people with dreams. A story about a little boy and the power of self-belief exemplifies the “possibility blindness” concept:
Two little boys were playing on a frozen lake and despite the warning signs of thin ice, one boy fell through and was trapped and couldn’t get out.
His friend was trying to save him, but he couldn’t. He could see him through the thin ice, but he couldn’t help him… So he ran to the nearest tree, climbed it, and broke off an enormous branch. Then, he ran back to his friend and started breaking the ice with the branch and finally managed to pull him out of the water.
When the paramedics came, they were baffled as to how this young little boy could rip off such an enormous branch, and THEN break the ice with it to help his friend. They just couldn’t see how it was possible.
Then an elderly man who was there said: I know how he did it. They asked him how.
The man said: “There was no one to tell him he couldn’t.”
Like the boy in the above story, we can amaze ourselves with what is possible without life if we don’t have people around us reminding us of the impossibility of our dreams. You will be doubted and even ostracized for the audacity of your dreams. Well-meaning people such as family, friends and acquaintances would remind you of the foolhardiness of your goal, but you need to remember your why and what you are trying to become in the process. The discouragement can be tough, but you have to hold onto your WHY and keep it moving, no matter what.
Possibility Blindness is something you will encounter, especially when you are a dreamer and doer. Earlier in 2023, I set a goal to run a full marathon in each of the ten Canadian provinces. It was a challenging goal, but I committed to giving it my all. Most people I told about the goal thought it was crazy; some even reminded me how impossible the goal was, but for me, it was not about the run. To make it even harder, I decided to run Four full Marathons in May 2023. People projected their fears and tried discouraging me from achieving my objective, but I stuck to the plan. By the year’s end, I could run nine full marathons and two half-marathons across Canada.
- Toronto Full Marathon, Ontario – May 7, 2023 – 4 hours 13 minutes
- Stewart McKelvey Fredericton Marathon | New Brunswick | 3 hours 53 minutes | May 14, 2023
- Emera Blue Nose Marathon, Halifax | Nova Scotia | May 21, 2023 | 4:02;56
- Servus Credit Union Calgary Marathon | Alberta | 4 hours 31 minutes | May 28, 2023
- Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Marathon | Winnipeg | June 18, 2023 | 3:59:16
- 2023 GMS Queen City Marathon, Regina | Saskatchewan | 3:20:49 | September 10, 2023
- Beneva Quebec City Marathon | Quebec | October 1st, 2023 | 3;20:59
- Royal Victoria Marathon | British Columbia | October 8th, 2023 | 3:31:15
- Prince Edward Island Marathon | Charlottetown | October 15, 2023 | 3:25:13
- Mississauga Half Marathon | Ontario |April 30, 2023 | 1:39:53
- Marathon Beneva de Montreal Half Marathon | Montreal | 1;33 | September 24, 2023.
I reduced my marathon finish time from 3:44 to 3:20 and visited multiple cities across Canada. It was tough to execute as there were a lot of naysayers, bouts of self-doubt and logistical challenges, but I pushed through the pain of the journey to witness the joy of the reward. I learnt a lot about myself as a result of the marathon challenge. I would not have followed through if I had listened to possibility blind people everywhere. As Indian statesman Mahatma Gandhi once quipped, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I was told it was impossible when I eventually achieved it; they told me they always knew I could do it. The experience taught me that there are “possibility blind” people everywhere, but you have to try to avoid them and give your goals the best of all you’ve got.
The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my favourite movies of all time. I tear up whenever I watch the movie. In the movie, Will Smith (homeless salesman Chris Gardner) passes a strong message to his son Christopher Jr ( Jadon Smith) about the need to avoid “possibility blind” people and the power of holding onto one’s dreams.
While playing basketball, Christopher Jr. muttered the following words:
Will Smith: Okay yeah. I don’t know you know I… You’ll probably be about as good as I was. That’s kind of the way it works you know. I was below average. You know, so you’ll probably ultimately rank…somewhere around there you know so…I really – You’ll excel at a lot of things just not this. I don’t want you shooting this ball around all day and night. All right?
Jadon Smith: All right
Will Smith: Hey! Don’t ever let somebody tell you … you can’t do something. Not even me. All right?
Jadon: All right
Will: You got a dream. You got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves… they want to tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period. Let’s go.
Will Smith was passing a very important message to his son about how he needs to protect his dreams. Possibility blind people would tell you why your dreams are impossible, why they won’t work, and if you are not careful, you can begin to believe them. Most of us project our fears and insecurities to others, because we cannot attempt to even dream or even try to challenge ourselves, we think the dreams of others are impossible. Avoid people like this; when you are doubted, don’t doubt yourself. If you can think about it, you can achieve it.
If you wanted to, you could find plenty of reasons not to strive for your potential. Maintaining the status quo is easier. But that shouldn’t stop you. Trying to build your life without removing your limitations and increasing your potential is like building a car in a small shed and being unwilling to knock out the wall to get the car out on the road. Remove the limitations, and the world is open to you.
You have great value. You have great potential. You have the ability to achieve greater significance in your life. It starts with developing self-awareness. More specifically, you need to become aware of the caps of your life and recognize which caps you can’t remove and which ones you can.
Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Deep Diving
- The meditative path can lead to personal transformation/awakening. Awaking up to our lives isn’t easy. To wake up, we need to give up on our self-centred, pleasure-seeking persona. It means giving up the material comfort that can never truly satisfy us. Slowly, we release parts of who we are: our ego and worldly attachments. Over time, it becomes easy to let go because we start to understand that our longings and attachments are, in fact, creating our suffering.
- We let go of control, trying to make people act in a certain way. We release our expectations about ourselves and life. We embrace our reality, moving with the tides rather than pushing against them.
Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Learn from your regrets.
- No regrets is a common philosophy for living in the present, no matter what happened in the past. The author, Dan Pink, surveyed thousands of Americans and found that the majority of respondents found regret to be harmful. Regret is natural, but we get caught in the tension between feeling regret and wishing we weren’t feeling regret. Pink says examining our past actions and inactions can clarify our values.
- By naming your regrets, you get specific about the kind of changes that you want to make.
Daily Trip with Jeff Warren – Running on Empty
- Andy Frisella – How to Build Your Mental Toughness | Ed Mylett Podcast
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.