Estimating our limits
“How many ships didn’t sail because of the belief that the earth was flat? How much progress was impeded because man wasn’t supposed to breathe underwater, fly through the air, or venture into outer space? Historically, we’ve done a remarkably poor job of estimating our limits.” — Gary Keller
Okay, so the skeptical cynic in me responds, “Yes, but how many DID sail and we never heard about them because they were lost at sea?” Nevertheless, I’m very happy SOME of them took to the water eventually, because many of us wouldn’t be where we are today if they had not.
I agree that often we have done a poor job of estimating our limits, and while this type of error can go both ways, I think we tend to err most on the side of caution. Yet there comes a time, after due diligence and reasonable preparation, when we must stop ruminating and ACT.
Something about the world today seems to be making us more anxious all the time. Were our ancestors, who were coping with shorter life spans, less food, untreatable disease and hardly any of what we think of as necessities, as fearful as we are today?
Let me be clear; I’m not suggesting you should take up sky diving, or scaling El Capitan, or becoming a NASCAR driver. It’s just that I so often hear (or speak) some variant of this statement: “I know I should _____________but I’m afraid _____________.”
You can fill in the blanks here with whatever you fear doing, but I bet most of it is not along the lines of the extreme sports I mentioned. It may have to do with making a decision about a diet, a room’s décor, a home repair, or whether to enroll in a class. It may involve getting in touch with a friend or relative from whom you feel distant right now. Or maybe you want to write, or paint, or design clothes, but fear you have nothing to say or create that would appeal to others.
Whatever your hesitation, the next time you find yourself wanting to do something but feeling too timid or incompetent, take a close look at your fears. They may be entirely reasonable and accurate. But what if you are overestimating your limitations? What do you have to gain, or lose, by making the attempt? It might be a hard question to answer, but it’s never a bad idea to ask it.