The single greatest obstacle to our own progress in life is very
Quite unknowingly, each of us walks around with a self-imposed
ceiling on our own abilities. The ceiling is almost always
invisible to ourselves, although it is often very obvious to
others who know us well.
The challenge of our lives is often not to do more, but to stop
getting in our own way. We need to find the right route to the
results we want, and spend less work and effort blasting away at
activities that do not serve us, even if we unwittingly think
that they do.
Most people have the ability to achieve tremendous success in
their chosen field of endeavor. The only limiting factor seems to
be how much they themselves believe they can achieve. Often, that
level of self-belief is terribly low.
It is quite common for highly talented, intelligent people to be
overtaken by others with less talent, and less obvious
intelligence. However, what these others have in abundance is
enough self-esteem, self-belief and sheer persistence to be
willing to take a difficult task on and stick at it until they
achieve their goal.
In brief, you can say that the group of people who succeed take
less stock of the obstacles, are more willing to be embarrassed,
have few problems being seen to be trying, and are hungry for the
success they have set their hearts upon. Moreover, this can be in
literally any arena; material or spiritual, physical or mental.
Rather than working harder, most people need to learn how to work
smarter. Here’s the perfect analogy for that…
You’ve seen how a fly will repeatedly bang itself against a
window, vainly trying to get out? That’s what it is like to work
ever harder, but doing the wrong thing.
By contrast, if the fly could just try a new direction, it might
find the open door on the other side of the room. In comparison
with banging away endlessly at the window, simply flying in a new
direction is relatively effortless, and definitely a MUCH quicker
way to achieve the end goal.
Many of us are like that fly. Perhaps we want to earn more money,
so we just spend more hours at the same job, or else we find an
evening job that may be completely different, but where the pay
rate is about the same. The results of this sort of strategy are
linear, not exponential. It never occurs to us that there might
be an altogether different way to proceed that would yield
exponentially greater results, often for far LESS effort!
However, if the same person sat down and actually spent some time
thinking, planning and strategizing how to create a more
prosperous future, the answers would surely come. Most of us are
not used to actually using our brains in an active fashion. Most
of the time, what we do is to use it purely passively, e.g.
learning, responding to information, etc.
Maybe the answer would be to start a new business, or to retrain
in a better paid profession. Within a few years, that person
could be on several multiples of the former income, AND be doing
work that involves fewer hours, less strain, and is altogether
more suited to that person’s talents, hopes and dreams.
The same holds true for other field of human endeavor. So why
don’t more of us take the second option rather than the first?
There are many reasons, but here are just a few…
(1) There are not many examples of people taking this sort of
action. Most of the people around us are like the fly,
consistently performing the same hopeless actions over and over,
but expecting better results each time.
(2) Perhaps we are just resigned to it. Our self-belief has
fallen to such lows that we really don’t think we are capable –
or worse still, worthy – of something better. Maybe we feel we
lack the intelligence, the contacts, the talent, or the
opportunity to achieve the quantum leap we dream of.
(3) If you are like most people, you were raised in an
environment where it was the norm to live under a low ceiling.
Parents and relatives transmit their own values and beliefs to
their children, and many people live the thoughts, beliefs, and
limitations of their parents (and even grandparents, because
these limiting beliefs can get passed down the generations)
without even knowing it.
In order to break through our own self-imposed ceiling, there are
a number of requirements. Firstly, we must actually WANT to do
so. Strangely, enough, a lot of people do NOT. They might think
they want greater success, more money, more recognition in their
chosen field or whatever. However, the reality is that they do
not; at least not when it comes to actually DOING something about
Hence, you have to honestly ask yourself if you really DO want to
reach new levels in your life? Or, are you willing to settle for
second best? Strange as it may seem, many people prefer the
latter because it is frankly too plain frightening to believe in
themselves, to take some risks, and go after what is really in
their hearts to achieve. The price is just too high to pay.
However, assuming that you DO wish to make the breakthrough, the
important thing to do is to actually take a long hard look at the
situation, but with new eyes.
So, you need to sit down and examine your situation, your assets,
your talents. This might take a lot of time, but it is time well
In what areas are YOU beating your head endlessly
against a wall? Are you doing work that is meaningful and
productive to you, or not? Is there an easier way, that may be
totally different from what you are currently doing? Could the
answer even lie in a complete 180 degree turn?
It would be helpful in this self-examination process to get input
from other people who know you – relatives, friends, co-workers;
basically, anyone who knows you well and can give an objective
opinion. Ask them what they see as your talents and strengths.
Ask them what they think you might be really good at.
Ultimately, what you have to do is develop a real passion for
something you want to achieve with your life, and then pursue it
with all your energy. That is really how to develop genius, and
harness the power of the universe to come to your aid. These
things only happen when you are caught up in what you love to do.
Then, it is much easier to break through the artificial ceiling;
much easier to believe in yourself for great things, and far
easier to make them happen. That is the way you make a quantum
leap; by doing something you love and just getting progressively
better at it, and more involved in the whole process.
If you find yourself still living below that low artificial
ceiling, ask yourself some of these searching questions. Be
willing to take a completely new direction. If you find that you
really do want to break through to new levels, make a mental
commitment to do so, and then take immediate action upon that
commitment. Keep following up on your action and don’t take no
for an answer.
Begin the process. Stick with it. Have faith. Miracles really can
happen, even today.
Copyright 2006. Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.