If, through your life, you had rejected your notion of what you believed was impossible...
Who would you be?
Where would you be living?
How would you be spending your days?
For my entire life, all 59 years, I can honestly say that I truly believed that all that came to pass was possible, long before it showed up. Conversely, those things I believed were impossible, beyond my reach, held only as desires, have not yet come to pass. I suppose you could argue that it's the rearview mirror talking. Or that I'm simply amazing in the area of self-awareness. Or that I'm an extraordinary human being who infallibly knows my limitations, abilities and future. The problem with these arguments, besides being outrageous, is how far back my beliefs reach. And by far back, I mean as far back in childhood as you can have clear memories, perhaps five or six years old.
For as long as I can remember, I believed I would be an inventor. I idolized Thomas Edison as a kid and later visited his Menlo Park Laboratory in Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The image of him working there, taking catnaps, was burned in my brain. I've created many original works in my life, but two stand out to date. First, I developed software that revolutionized how the global pipeline utility industry analyzes the hydraulic performance of their distribution networks. And second, I invented and patented a new golf device that gives a consistent driver teeing height using standard tees.
We played "Army" constantly as kids, and I was usually the General, the highest ranking commanding officer in our "troop." I never got any pushback playing that role, so I don't think I was an asshole about it. At least I hope not. I just remember endless hours of make-believe fun with my buddies. Later in life, I assumed leadership roles in my work life, including twenty years as CEO. I have served on many nonprofit boards over the years, and am routinely asked onto their executive committees, chairing several. My belief in my ability to guide and lead transitioned from my play life to my work life.
I always believed I'd have three children, just like my family growing up. Not only did this come to pass, but in the same order, sex and almost identical age spacing. My wife and I didn't intentionally or consciously plan this to be so, but here it is.
The list goes on, but I'm not here to tell my life story. My point is, those things that resonated with me, that I truly believed, that felt like my truth, even at a very young age, manifested in my life in various ways. And those that did not, have not.
Given this little bit of my history, let me rephrase my question and ask you this:
Which beliefs have shaped...
Who you are?
Where you live?
How you spend your days?
As you ponder which beliefs have served you well, and which have held you back, a range of emotion may arise, from deep satisfaction to disturbing regret. If the thought arises, "What's the use? It's too late!" challenge yourself to challenge that belief:
Colonel Harland David Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1952, the year he turned 62. At 73 he sold KFC and continued to be its public face until he passed at age 90.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, born in 1860, started her career as the renowned artist, Grandma Moses, at age 78. She spent the next 33 years bringing her work to the world until she passed in 1961 at age 101.
Duncan Hines didn't write his first food and hotel guide until he was 55. He was 73 when he licensed his name to the company that produced his namesake cake mixes.
Charles Darwin was 50 in 1859 when he published On the Origin of the Species.
In the words of the ITIF (International Technology and Innovation Foundation), "Contrary to popular narratives about young, technology-savvy entrepreneurs dropping out of college to found companies in Silicon Valley, the median age for innovators is 47."
Beliefs are a choice at any age, from your teens to your last breath.
"...those things I believed were impossible, beyond my reach, held only as desires, have not yet come to pass..."
Possibilities live in "not yet." I regularly make use of a powerful practice to free myself from the tyranny of my limiting beliefs to explore the possibilities in things that have not yet come to pass:
I hold my beliefs lightly
Just because I had beliefs that may have held me back in the past doesn't mean I must continue to hold them. If coaching has taught me anything, it has taught me that any change is possible. It starts with awareness and a willingness to question your beliefs, to hold them lightly enough to escape if they aren't serving you well.
Sit quietly over the next few days and ponder the questions I've posed. Add your own, if you'd like. Keep a journal of your thoughts. If you're highly motivated, add some time in quiet meditation each time before you head on this journey. When you're ready, imagine releasing your grip on your limiting beliefs, thanking them for whatever role, known or unknown, they played in your life. Then watch them soar out of sight, like kites reduced to dots in the sky, surfing the winds of change.