I was working with some of the kids at our local Boys & Girls Clubs one day as part of a program I was running, when I started to talk about college. One of the kids said, “My dad says I can’t go to college because I’m not smart enough.”
“Do you believe that?” I asked.
He looked at me quizzically then said, “No.”
“Then it’s not true.”
A slow smile spread across his face. While it’s always a bit dangerous to suggest to a child that his parent has told him an untruth, it can sometimes change the course of a life.
But it’s not just children who buy into the beliefs that others hold about them. Adults do it too. And what’s more, we buy into all kinds of other influencers as well. We believe the results of “recent studies” and think they apply to us. We’re affected by the labels applied to our gender, race, religion, profession, etc. We allow the media to tell us what is “real.”
As artists and entrepreneurs we are especially vulnerable because everyone has an opinion on everything from the quality of our work to how we structure our businesses to how we live our lives. Because our work makes us visible, we draw attention, and with attention comes judgment.
When was the last time someone told you you’d never be able to do something? Were they right? If so, were they right because you never really tried? In other words, just because they turned out to be correct, doesn’t mean their statement was true. It’s only true if you believe it.
Imagine all the people who told Orville and Wilbur Wright they would never get their flying machine off the ground. If they’d quit, all of those people would have been right. But they didn’t. They believed in their miraculous invention, and they changed the world.
Does that mean we can accomplish anything if we just believe? Let’s say I’d wanted to change my eye color. I would have been told, rightly, that you can’t change your genetic make-up in that manner. Then along came colored contacts. Someone out there figured out a way to make a seemingly impossible wish become a reality. So, is there really anything we can’t do?
Think of all the limiting beliefs that were heaped on you as a child. Some might even have been said in kindness, but good intentions also don’t make things accurate. The only person who can decide what is true for you is . . . you!