As human beings, we set our own limits, irrespective of our socioeconomic background, innate talent, or acquired knowledge and skills. We will always be limited by what we believe we can achieve.
Put differently, believing we can do something is the first step towards actually doing it. Believing we can’t, on the other hand, almost guarantees that we won’t.
Yes, there has been a glut of “faux positivity” going around over the last few years. And sometimes this positivity can be inauthentic and inappropriate. But, it is still far better to be overly positive than the alternative, because doing so opens up new and exciting possibilities to our lives.
And who wouldn’t want that?
As with anything in humanity, we swing from one extreme to the other. Nowadays, it’s become hip to be a “realist” or a “counter-positive” person, who is too savvy to buy into all the positivity. It’s become trendy to mock those that preach positivity and convenient to dismiss them as lucky or privileged.
But, the truth is, the world would be far worse off without this positivity and without people that believe that anything is possible.
I could quite easily sit here for days and list all the countless examples of people — from different walks of life — that have achieved seemingly impossible feats.
People who dropped out of high school and overcame dyslexia to build multinational empires (i.e. Richard Branson).
People that sacrificed more than a quarter of their lives in prison to overcome institutionalized racism in their country (i.e. Nelson Mandela).
People that overcame poverty, childhood abuse, racism, and sexism to become billionaire media moguls (i.e. Oprah Winfrey).
Leaders that transformed their cities from sleepy port towns in the desert into modern metropolises with state-of-the-art infrastructure and the World’s busiest airport (i.e. HRH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum).
I could go on and on.
What do all of these people have in common?
They believed that anything is possible. They believed in their dreams so much that they were willing to do whatever it took to fulfill them. They used this belief to propel them to make sacrifices, take risks, work hard, and overcome all sorts of obstacles to make the impossible possible.
Can you imagine where we would be today if these people didn’t believe that anything is possible?
Can you imagine what the world would be missing out on if these people set “more realistic” limits for themselves?
Would we still have the light bulb, alternating current, penicillin, or the theory of relativity?
How many of the miraculous human achievements we now take for granted would still exist?
This is not to say that anyone that believes that anything is possible will fulfill all of their dreams. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. The guy doesn’t always get the girl. And good doesn’t always triumph over evil.
But believing that anything is possible is a prerequisite for achieving the seemingly impossible.
In other words, if you want to have any chance of fulfilling your dreams, you must first believe that anything is possible. It doesn’t mean that your dreams will come true, but it means that there is a greater chance that they will, no matter how small that chance might be.
We, as human beings, are still scratching the surface of what’s possible. The truth is we don’t know what’s possible until it is possible. We don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t know what we’re capable of achieving.
Take the field of brain science. Almost everything we know about the human brain today has been discovered in the last 15 years. Scientists still haven’t figured out what consciousness is, why we sleep or dream, how memories work, or even where our personalities come from. The reality is that the inner workings of the human brain largely remain a mystery.
So if we still don’t know the full extent of our brain’s power, how could we possibly know what we’re capable of?
How would it make any sense to set any limits on ourselves when we’re still in the process of defining the actual scientific limits of what we can achieve?
This is why when my son grows up, I’ll constantly be reminding him that anything is possible. I’ll do everything in my power to instill this belief in him, so that he has a better chance of fulfilling his dreams, whatever they may be.
The thing is, children already believe that anything is possible. It’s the adults in their lives that convince them otherwise. It’s the adults in their lives that set artificial limits on them and define for them what is supposedly impossible.
And all these adults are doing is projecting their own disappointments on their children, discouraging them from dreaming, believing, or reaching for the stars.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather believe that anything is possible. I’d much rather our children believe this, too, so that they have a better chance of making the impossible possible.
And even if they don’t, life is more fun when you believe.