I watched an interview last week on a long distance swimmer who throughout her life has overcome multiple challenges and obstacles. In her sporting career she had achieved wonderful accomplishments and breaking world records, many of which were precedents for women in her sport. She now conducts motivational seminars and training for corporate clients and women here in Australia.
There were a few key statements she made that have really stuck with me over the past week. She referred to the 'glass ceiling of limitation’ that we often unknowingly set ourselves therefore limiting our ability to move beyond or past to fulfill our ultimate potential.
This one particular sentence has resonated with me ever since.
How many of us have glass ceilings that are inhibiting our ability to find true and increased happiness, performance or success?
Then what happens when glass ceilings are broken?
The first story that came to mind as an example of this would be that of the 4-minute mile. It is believed that for hundreds of years it was thought to be impossible to break. Many tried but with no success. Their glass ceiling was set based on other peoples failed attempts. Running under 4 minutes was physically impossible, unimaginable and could not be done. Therefore any time they tried their belief system was limiting their physical ability. But there was one man who believed he could. His belief was that it was possible and he broke through his previous glass ceiling. Roger Bannister in 1954 broke the record for the 4 minute mile with a 3:59.40. Yes by a 20th of a second – but it was done all the same.
You can guess then what happened once he broke the limiting beliefs – then others followed shortly after and soon enough there were more than 24 other runners who also broke the previous thought impossible barrier. Fast-forward to 2012 mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds. Could you imagine telling them that in 1954!
The limiting beliefs of those runners back in the 1950’s and earlier were inhibiting their actions and their performance. It was not because they physically couldn't run faster but in their minds that had convinced themselves it was not possible and therefore that was the reality they then created.
What glass ceilings do you have?
How many areas of your life do you think they affect?
I know I do and I have quite a few and I have been trying to figure out ways of breaking through (without the help of the former ultra swimmer).
I would love to be able to deliver you with the recipe to a guaranteed method of how you can rid yourself permanently of limiting self-beliefs but I am just learning the same as you. Upon reflection though on this topic I would suggest a strategic approach in first figuring out what your beliefs are and to what extent that are affecting your life adversely. This is what I have started doing with my own and it has been a rather interesting journey of self-discovery.
Initially I would start by breaking down the areas of life you want to focus on:
Once you have your list then begin to write what your belief is about yourself and your current situation. You may even want to go into greater detail of each one. If finance is an area you think you need to work on then perhaps you can break it down even further into your beliefs on saving and on your earning capacity. It really just depends how much you want to improve and how prepared you are at peeling away the layers to really become aware of how your self imposed beliefs are holding you back.
So for the sake of the discussion I am going to use fitness and then go even further and look at swimming.
I believe I am an average swimmer because I have only been swimming for 5 years. I race against others who are exceptional swimmers and I would never be as fast as them. No matter how long I swim I will never be a fast swimmer.
It is pretty easy to see that this belief that I have committed to is clearly going to hold me back physically because regardless of how hard I train if I continue to tell myself I am an average swimmer – then an average swimmer I will remain.
Now some may say you cannot just trick yourself into being something you are not. I cannot simply just tell myself I am an amazing and fast swimmer and tomorrow I will wake up and in my next race I will be first out of the water with no training. I am referring to the constant dialogue we have with ourselves, the chatter in our head that is either building us up or tearing us down. At least if you can start to believe then the physical input has a much greater chance of supporting your new and positive beliefs. Both mind and body working for the higher and greater good - YOU!
Looking over the headings I listed above without even going into each one in detail know exactly where my limiting beliefs are…too old, too slow, too damaged. LOL – I have a lot of work ahead of me to change my way of thinking. But how wonderful to know if I change what I think I am capable of, I can then in actuality achieve and be so much more. My life, my reality, my success is in my control. In my mental control. In relation to training for physical performance this is great news. It's not necessarily just about pushing myself harder physically but in training my brain to believe it is part of my reality and capacity.
Does that mean if I change my thinking I may actually one day be better than just an average swimmer? WOOHOOO!!!
How much hidden potential does each of us have if we could start by lifting ourselves up?
Simply expecting more and better from ourselves will in turn raise those ceilings or even better smash through the glass ceiling and getting rid of it in its entirety.
My wish for you all and for myself is simple then – know yourself, love yourself and rid yourself of those limiting beliefs.
As wonderful phrase we all know so simply puts:
The skies the limit!!!