Some of life’s most valuable lessons often come from unexpected places. This was true for me a couple of days ago when I was visiting the doctor.
As we all know, one of the worst parts of visiting the doctor is the dreaded time spent in the waiting room.
I always try to find a good book to read or an interesting podcast to help pass the time.
As I was sitting in the waiting room last week I overheard an interesting conversation that interrupted my reading – one that caused me to reflect.
This conversation had an impact on me so I thought I would turn it into a blog post.
What Opinions Have We Accepted From Others?
As I was sitting there I overheard two individuals rekindling an old relationship. As it turns out the two individuals involved were an old gymnastics coach and one of her former students.
The coach who was now much older was having a hard time remembering her former student.
I could tell from the student’s reaction how much she had loved this coach – even after 30 years.
For the next 30 minutes they recounted their fond memories from many years prior.
As I tried to focus on my book I overheard something that really caught my attention.
This coach asked her student if she had continued in gymnastics after leaving her class.
This is where the principal comes into play…
In response to this question the student asked her teacher if she remembered what she had told her so many years ago.
The coach admitted that she couldn’t – I don’t blame her as it was a vague question at best.
She went on to remind her that her coach had told her that she was too tall to be a gymnast – the teacher didn’t remember having given this advice.
The student went on to say how one day, shortly after leaving her class, she was trying a backhand spring and fell on her head.
Right when this happened she remembered what her coach had told her about being too tall and realized it was probably true – so she stopped doing gymnastics.
They both had a good laugh and continued on with their conversation.
As I thought about the impact of one casual opinion from a coach to a student, it made me wonder what “truths” have I accepted in my life that are just opinions of others.
Whether this young girl had a future in gymnastics or not, she accepted an opinion from someone she saw as a mentor and believed it was the truth.
I find this particularly relevant seeing how she quit right when she saw a little difficulty in her progress – after landing on her head.
I couldn’t help but wonder how differently it may have turned out if the coach had instead said, “you are taller than most gymnast so you will need to make up for that in other areas, but don’t ever give up because of it.”
Had that seed been planted instead, would she have continued?
I can’t help but wonder how this may have also impacted other areas of this young girl’s life. Did she give up when she thought she wasn’t smart enough in school? Did she not pursue her dream job because of feelings of inadequacy?
There is little doubt in my mind that these subconscious “truths” we accept have a huge impact on who we are and what we ultimately become.
This caused me to reflect on my own life. I wondered what opinions did I hear when I was young that I accepted as truth, even though they weren’t? I am sure there are many.
When we accept these as truth instead of challenging them we allow someone else the power of deciding what and who we are.
I am sure this gymnastic coach had good intentions. Maybe she was just having a bad day and didn’t mean it at all.
Either way it had an impact.
Imposed “Truths” Are All Around Us
For anyone that has spent time around children they know the optimism they possess.
One of the advantages children have over adults is that they are not tainted by experience. They don’t believe in limits because they just assume they can accomplish their dreams – and they are right.
As we grow in age so does our doubt, fear, and uncertainty. Why does this happen?
There are many culprits.
Parents impose limits on their children because of their own doubts.
Society tell us we need to have a 9-5 job we don’t like instead of finding our dream job or being an entrepreneur.
We are told we can’t make a basketball team because we are too skinny.
Or, a gymnastic coach may tell us we are too tall…
As we get older we are excellent at creating problems for every solution – or an excuse for every dream.
As we look at the faith of young children we better understand why we are told we need to be more like them – full of hope, courage, determination, etc.
It’s Time to Challenge Our Beliefs
As I sat in that waiting room I vowed to explore my life to try and eliminate untruths that I had accepted that are holding me back.
As we look around we can see many people we look up to who are living their dreams. If we are honest we have probably asked ourselves why are they so talented and special.
As I attended a conference a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to listen to a few remarkable keynote speakers.
There was one general theme I picked up on from each of these speakers – that they are no different than the other people in the room other than just one thing.
And that one thing is that they decided to act on their dreams. They didn’t accept the limits society, friends, family, employers or anyone else was trying to force upon them.
They had fear, but they overcame. They had doubts but they didn’t let it stop them.
I would challenge each of us to look inwards and challenge those untruths we have accepted – as painful as it may be.
Once we do this we give ourselves the permission to start again the process of building who we really are.
How It Applies to Money
This concept also applies to money.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say they are broke and have accepted that as their permanent reality.
A staggering 60% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Stop and think about that for a second.
How many opportunities are we going to be able to act upon if we have less than $1,000 in the bank?
Whether it is a new sales job that requires a few months of savings to get started, or our desire to start that business we have always dreamed about.
If our finances are not in order how are we going to improve our situation? It likely won’t happen.
For many of us we believe being broke and living pay check to pay check is how it has to be for us. We have accepted what others have told us, or what we have seen from those who have gone before us.
It is simply not true. We have a choice to make – and if we don’t make a choice, it is the same as deciding to accept something less than what we are capable of.
We can accept a life of being broke (giving up on gymnastics) or we can challenge the consensus and aim for something better (being the best at gymnastics even if we are seemingly too tall).
We can decide to conquer our finances so we can take advantage of opportunities that will arise. If we want a life that is different than what we see around us, we must start acting differently.
We have to overcome this keeping up with the Joneses mentality, and realize the limitations that it imposes on us.
We must make sacrifices with our finances so we can get out of debt and start living within our means.
We have to be honest with ourselves about our current careers. Is what we are doing now going to afford us a better life tomorrow?
If not, it is time to make a change.
We must shift our mindset from scarcity to abundance.
If we are living pay check to pay check that is a scarcity mindset. This usually means your net worth is shrinking and not growing. This is negative momentum.
We must move this to an abundance mindset which is growth – spending less than we make and growing our money through smart investments.
Limits only become true when we accept them.
The good news is these untruths can also be reversed. The first step is recognizing what they are and changing our mindset.
I think of this conversation I heard at the doctor’s office almost every day when I see my kids. I am more careful in the way I speak because I do not want my views of the world to impact what they accomplish.
I have tried to help them be more creative and realize they can create anything they put their minds to.
And more importantly, I am trying to follow the same advice I give my kids – to believe I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
To do this we must forget the doubts we have learned along the way and stop making excuses for why our dreams are not possible.
There is no better time than the present to make a change. If you desire a better life and a more secure financial future, now is the time to change your mindset and move forward with this new way of thinking!
Start with a simple change and as you gain momentum move onto bigger goals.
Do not let what someone else says define your reality. That young girl could have gone on to be an inspiring gymnast – or even an amazing coach – had she continued forward.
What opportunities are you missing out on because you haven’t taken the time to challenge these false beliefs?
I hope we will all take these steps towards finding out!
We are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for.