07 October 2015

Limitations or Possibilities?

Sometimes it's kind of sad to see just how early our young people learn to focus on limitations rather than possibilities.  We had a discussion in class (college freshmen) recently, and one of the students brought up a very interesting and realistic possibility--only to have several other students immediately shoot down her idea with a long list of limitations.  "It would be nice, but other people would ruin it"; "That would never work in our society because. . ."; "That can't be done because. . . ."  And when I asked them why they responded immediately with limitations, they said that one has to be aware of limitations in order to be able to overcome them.

The effect of their limitations, though, would have been to squelch the idea immediately--there would have been no chance to try to make the idea work, for they would have come to the conclusion that "That will never work."

When I graduated from college, I bought a one-way ticket to Europe--I went to Spain.  People thought that I was crazy.  I had no money, no job, no possibilities that I knew of.  But I felt in my heart that I could make it work.  I ended up staying in Europe for three years, and I came back actually having a bit of money saved from my three years there.  If I had listened to the people who spoke only of the limitations of my plan, I never would have gone.  Instead, I spent two years in Spain and one year in Germany, and I learned two more languages in addition to Spanish.  It was all possible because I didn't spend time focused on the limitations and the "impossibilities"; rather, I got there and I started immediately doing everything I could to make things work.

Do we teach our young people to focus on the possibilities and potential available to them, or do we fill their minds with limits and reasons not to try things?  And if we fill their minds with limits, are we even giving them the slightest chance to succeed in things that they want to do?  Or are we shutting them down before they even start to make the effort to make things happen?

And what are we doing to ourselves if we focus only on limits?  Are we even giving ourselves the chance to succeed if all we consider are limitations and potential barriers?  Yes, it is important to look at barriers and adversity and figure out ways to deal with them--but we cannot let them be our major focus.  If we do, we give them far too much strength.

And if we give them too much strength--more than they really have--they will keep us from moving ahead and taking chances that now seem far too risky to us.

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