— C.S. Lewis (via Nick Macco)
Write down the limitations you’ve given yourself. Ignore the extreme based on your physical makeup, “I can’t dunk a basketball, run a four minute mile, or grow facial hair”, and the iconic, “become a famous musician, paint a world-renowned masterpiece, or win a MMA title bought. Not because they’re unattainable but because they require perfect circumstances outside your control.
Here are mine: I will not be able to make it as a professional writer and storyteller, I will never be in ‘peak’ condition, I can’t break through my spiritual passive attitude to grow as a spirit-filled individual, I have no idea how to organize my life, I will never have the financial security to ‘really’ live the lifestyle I want, I could never cast a fly-rod like a professional, I will never be able to communicate my love to Lindsey, and…
Now look at your list and ask yourself, “Who told you that?”
When did you hear that limitation, acknowledge that limitation, or accept that limitation? How did you come to that conclusion? Why are you so eager to accept that its concrete and signed in steel?
We live in a world that is full of information that can’t be taken at “face value.” Rarely if ever do I see a news story or hear gossip at church and think, “Well that’s the whole story.” We’ve been taught through experience to question and pick but we fail to do so when it comes to our own limitations.
Limitations are safe. They don’t require us to fret or worry. We can accept a four walled understanding of who we are and take solace in it’s shape and size in comparison to the person on our right or left.
They are also a fasle statement about who we are and what we can do. They hold us back from taking risks and opening ourselves up to new experiences and accomplishments. They require us to wonder who we could be and what we could accomplish.
Take another look at your list. Are ready to live the next X amount of years with those limitations? Do you want to look back and think, “I could’ve done that.”
— Muhammad Ali
— E.B. White
You disagree with the title of this post. I don’t blame you, we live and work in a culture that believes confidence and strategic-emotionless decision making are the keys to success. Don’t count on a gut reaction, write out a life plan and then proceed.
Nine out of ten times you would be right ,or, rather we would be right because I would be with you nodding in the affirming direction. But a string of experiences has led me to believe that fear - wrenching, sweat inducing, needle-under-fingernail fear - when applied at exactly the right moment can shock us into uncharacteristic bravery.
Three years ago I had a list of opportunities that would fill up a poker chip. My ‘prospects’ (as they’re known in Major Markets and the ranch communities of Colorado) were lacking to say the least. I was entering my second tour of duty at P.F. Changs, living with my parents, and unsure of how to proceed with my newly graduated girlfriend of six years, Lindsey.
*While it doesn’t fit well with my current flow and mood I have to point out the sexual frustration that comes in to play within a six year christian relationship. Most twenty-three year old men are unclear. Twenty-three year old virgin men make Seattle look like blue skies and sunshine.
What made matters worse was that only a few weeks before I had held an internship with Catalyst, a well-respected organization aimed at developing next generation leaders (yes, I see the irony). Because of this opportunity those around me were expecting “big things” when I was done, gobbling up the next opportunity and taking steps to become a ‘generational leader’.
It’s hard to explain, humorously or seriously, what my head and heart were doing at that moment. Chances are I don’t have to because you’ve been there, where expectations meets immaturity meets lack of opportunity or credibility. We all react differently but my answer was to ‘turtle up’; I pulled my head in my shell and told everybody else to screw off.
And then Lindsey got offered a job in Colorado. When the love of your life and best friend has an opportunity to move across the country and on with her life it forces you to pay attention. That doesn’t mean that I became clear or mature or perfectly aligned with straight lined vision. I got scared. And then I took the fear and drove down it into my core and spewed out bravery I had no idea was there.
Lindsey and I got engaged, wed, and moved 2,000 miles in just a tic under four weeks. I had never driven anything longer than a suburban and all of a sudden I was going solo in a twenty-four foot Penske truck hauling a Honda Civic. We rented an apartment, she started her new job, and I got a job (wait for it) waiting tables at Chilis (the only bummer in this story but you do what you got to do).
Fear shocked me back into the story of my life.
Not quite three years later and Lindsey is going strong at Washington Elementary, serving on a number of boards, while running her own voice studio during the summer. I’m the wordsmith and social media strategist at Stickman Simple Marketing and the curator of Threethoughtson.com enjoying a level of opportunity and networking I’ve never experienced. We fly-fish, we hike with our dog Cam, and record TV shows.
Fear is rarely a good thing - but - at just the right moment it’s the greatest thing in the world.
— Most of my reading these days surrounds Business and Current Events but I never leave a bookstore without walking through the Western section. No one will ever call Louis Lamour a literary giant but he will always be one of my all-time favorite storytellers.
He stared at the portrait unsure of it’s beginning or end. A revolving drama of colors and textures like a dream unfolding into the world. He could see the life he’d imagined nestled within it’s frame bouncing around unchained, unclothed. Far lands and herculean adventures and foreign tongues.
The keeper of his dream hung for all to see.
Real world bound.