Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time said, “Limits, just like fears, are often just an illusion.” What can we draw from this statement? It packs in a lot of messages and it also encourages us to develop our self awareness.
What I believe Michael was trying to express is that we don’t know how far we can go until we actually test it out. We will never know our true potential unless we push the limits and move beyond what we believe is possible. We can’t let our thoughts stop us early in our journey when we still have the capability to go so much further.
So what’s this illusion that he talks about? And why does he relate fear to limits? Let’s delve a little deeper – we’ll start with fear. Fear is the belief that the outcomes of a future event will not work out as expected or will have negative outcomes. It’s perceived danger without actually knowing what the outcome might be – it’s a natural instinct – but it’s also often an illusion. Why would something natural be an illusion?
Well our natural fears are mechanisms for protecting ourselves – we stand too close to the edge of a cliff – our legs start to shake – it’s a neural response to protect us, telling us to back away and for good reason. We see a ferocious dog with sharp teeth, our immediate instinct is that it will attack us – but is this example really true? Maybe we might approach the dog and pat it, and it might respond affectionately – how would we have ever known if we didn’t move past the fear that it would attack us? See how there is potential for good in the world around us if we just weighed up the risk vs the reward sometimes? The outcome is probably better than expected.
There’s a lot of examples where we let fear control us – fear that we might wake up early to exercise, but the pain will be too much – fear that we might be judged for holding a particular belief, but how do we know we will be judged negatively? What if we expected the best case scenario – that others would support us fully? And even if they didn’t we would grow stronger in the sense that we can uphold our beliefs independently despite the judgement around us. It’s a win-win for us when we take that leap.
So now that we understand how the illusion of fear works, what about limits – how are they an illusion? When we perceive limits there’s a lot of factors that influence us, these include; what others say, whether someone has achieved the goal before and our own self doubt. The reason why limits are often an illusion is because they don’t truly define us. Just because someone told you that you can’t achieve something, doesn’t make it true – just because someone has never done it before, doesn’t mean that you can’t – in fact that should inspire you even more!
How do you think Neil Armstrong felt when he made the leap for mankind to be the first man to stand on the moon? I guarantee you he was afraid – afraid because nobody had ever done it before and there was potential that he could lose his life, many had already done so – but the NASA team had a belief and he exercised their plans. Today man can travel to the moon seamlessly, consequently with much less fear, yet had the original team never taken the leap of faith none of it would ever be possible.
To summarise, let’s think about who we are now. Are we a product of self doubt and judgement from others, or are we on our path to overcoming those fears? It’s okay either way, but from this point forward, put your foot down and really analyse whether the risks that present themselves are true or made up. Are they based out of laziness or genuine danger?
You have to be willing to expand yourself if you want to grow. Where growth pursues, happiness cultivates.
~ Adam, 2019
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“Limits, just like fears, are often just an illusion.” Michael Jordon @themindconnectoryTweet