Ed told me with great pride about the many accomplishments and fearlessness of his son. Each story he told made the point crystal clear: his son is an extraordinary young man – intellectually gifted, well-nurtured by his family, challenged by caring teachers and spurred on by an internally-driven approach to life that says, “I can do anything I want to do. My options are limitless.”
As Ed talked about his son, his eyes conveyed pride and joy, certainly. And they held an edge of incredulity. It seemed hard for Ed to accept his son’s consistent record of higher and higher levels of achievement, and his never-ceasing reach for more; all done with complete confidence and full expectation of getting what he wants.
I asked Ed about that glimmer of astonishment, spiced with a bit of fear.“You seem to have a little disbelief or reticence taking in and accepting your son’s accomplishments AND his fearless press forward for more. Any truth in that?”
Ed and I had spent our last two sessions discussing his desire for a new challenge and strategizing about ways he could make it happen. For each recommended action, he had a ready Excuse or Story about why he can’t, or why now was not the right time. He de-energized and handicapped himself each time he spoke one of the LIES That Limit.
After a pause, he responded to my question with, “Of course not. I’m proud of Jeremy. He just goes for it and he gets what he wants.” The movement of his head was consistent with, “No, I can’t believe it.” I listened to his words and watched his non-verbals.
“Jeremy never even applied to any school other than Stanford?! I know that’s where he wanted to go, but I thought he should have a back-up plan, just in case he didn’t get in. But he put all his eggs in one basket. And, it paid off. ”
How many times do you do that: settle for less than what you want before you give your all and go for the full magilla – before you put your full energy and total attention into pursuit of your goal? It’s what I do, all too frequently, and it’s what I see many others do too. We allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the muddled middle I describe in LIES That Limit – that flat, non-descript space of average that results in being less than you’re capable of and falls short of your real desires and sense of purpose.
Suddenly, Ed was animated, talking more quickly than usual. “That’s my problem! I don’t go for what I want. I give up before I even try. But not Jeremy. He just goes for it and makes it happen. My God, that’s what I have to do too. I’ve got to stop stopping myself from really trying. My own son is teaching me something about life.” He threw his head back in laughter, delighted about his lesson, amazed by his teacher.
Does Jeremy’s example hold a lesson for you? I know it does for me.