I had a moment of clarity this weekend, dare I even say an epiphany. I realised that I have been born for greatness. I don’t know yet what that greatness will be, I just know it will come. Why do I know this? Because I believe. And that is the key! I believe. I believe I will achieve greatness in my lifetime. Not necessarily fame or fortune, but something I will do will make a difference in someone’s life. I may not know who that person is but I will have changed their life. And that will make me great. This is my belief.
We steer our lives around a set of beliefs we have in ourselves, in others and in the world around us. These beliefs shape our decisions, thoughts and ultimately our actions as a result whether we know it or not. It is beliefs that also shape us into the individuals we are and it is these very beliefs that limit or allow us to change and grow in our lives as well. We all have them, we all have a unique set of beliefs even if many overlap, and we often don’t examine our beliefs enough to truly understand ourselves. Personal development is highly related to these beliefs and without taking time to understand them, we can never achieve the maximum personal growth we desire.
Whitney Houston’s song “The Greatest Love of All” starts with the lines “I believe that Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” There is great truth in this as we share our beliefs with future generations. The beliefs we learn from our parents shape us and our way of thinking and how we go through life.
Sometimes if you believe you can’t do something then you will not succeed. When I was around 14 a new P.E. teacher started at school. She decided to introduce gymnastics to improve our fitness. All our class was assembled in the hall and the springboard and horse were set up.
The task was quite simple – run fast towards the springboard, jump with both feet on the springboard and vault over the horse – sounds simple doesn’t it? I weighed up the options, the height of the horse, practically up to my shoulder and made up my mind there and then that I was not going to be able to do this. I told the PE teacher this but she insisted I give it a try. I worked up the speed but faltered as I reached the springboard and crashed into the horse. Undeterred the teacher persisted and told me try again, despite my protestations! I took another run at the board, faltered again and this time landed on the horse. Finally she accepted that I was not going to achieve the jump. Because I believed I would not succeed I didn’t.
George Bernard Shaw said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.
As children we believed in Santa Claus. Our proof was the magical appearance of presents under the tree when we awoke on Christmas morning, and we had no reason to doubt his existence. As we grew older we discover the truth that indeed Santa does not exist, but we keep these happy memories as we go through life and we perpetuate the myth to keep future children believing. For if they do not have something to believe in when they are young what have they to look forward to? The time will come soon enough when they too will change their minds and forge their own beliefs.
During Nelson Mandelas incarceration on Robben Island, he used to quote the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. The last two lines of this poem are: – “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
We all have beliefs, things we believe we can do and things we believe we can’t. The fact is – what you believe, tends to happen – so it is far more productive to believe you can – and then just do it!
Near the end of the recent Muppet Movie, Walter is afraid to go out and perform in case people don’t like him. His brother tells him “Sooner or later you have to believe in yourself because that’s what growing up is”.
That is why I think it is worth taking the time to explore your beliefs. They can trap you or they can free you! While I still believe I cannot get over the vaulting horse, I believe I can achieve a lot of other positive things in my lifetime, for without belief I have nothing. If I had to give you one takeaway it would be: –
“If you believe in nothing else then at the very least believe in yourself! That is how you will achieve greatness.”
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