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Exceed Your Potential

Hello and welcome to this early fall Friday, September 25, 2020. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again. Maybe today is the day when you exceed your potential.

We have the unfortunate capacity to limit ourselves. Without ever deeply investigating our negative self-talk, we tend to believe that we can’t do something having only barely tried, or, before we even try. “I can’t speak publicly,” was one of my favorites. Here is another one: “I can’t play the guitar. My fingers won’t bend like that and I can’t keep time.”

It is true that when I got up in front of people to talk, I felt flushed, my hands sweated, my pounding heart raced, and I felt extremely anxious – to the knee-wobbling point where I would almost pass out. There were times I gave speeches as an undergraduate when I had to literally hang on the chalkboard rail to reassure myself that I wouldn’t fall over. Nowadays, I rather enjoy speaking to groups. I still get nervous meow and then, but the feeling passes not long after I start. I still haven’t learned to play the guitar very well, maybe I never will. But I keep trying and I continue to get better. I know a few chords and I’m picking up on how to strum. Keeping time? Forget it. Not yet.

I may never be a world-renowned public speaker or play the guitar like Eric Clapton. I am, nevertheless, doing more than I previously believed I could. In this sense, I am exceeding my [perceived] potential. The fact is, we have no idea what our full potential is. If we look back at our lives, I’m confident that each of us can conjure up specific examples of where we accomplished things we barely dared to dream about.

Twenty years ago, I never thought I’d have a career beyond nursing. Ten years ago, I never knew I’d earn a graduate degree in philosophy. Five years ago, I would never have believed that I’d be writing these weekly mindfulness support letters. “I can’t write,” was another story I told myself. Assuming I’m alive, what will I be doing next year? In five years? Ten? Twenty? I don’t know. But I do know that I can either passively see what happens, continue to fall victim to my fear-driven, self-limiting stories, or, I can work though my fears and create a life that is intentional and meaningful.