This article originally appeared in Inc. If you like this article,
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What's the difference between a child's dream and an adult's dream? Having worked with kids in Junior Achievement, I believe the difference is that children see end goals without any "real-life" barriers in their way. Meanwhile, adults tend to focus on the roadblocks in their way, and allow those imaginary barriers to prevent success.
Ironically, those roadblocks are almost always self-made. I speak from experience when I say that the only thing that's ever held me back is me. Even realizing that fact has taken a lot of time to discover and admit, but that realization is usually the greatest key in achieving one's potential. In fact, when I ask new followers on Twitter what's holding them back, and they respond with a similar answer, I know that the follower is one step closer to achieving everything they want in life, and more.
The problem is, self-limiting beliefs live in the deepest parts of our minds, where they take root like an ivy and wrap around our confidence until our true potential becomes too constricted to breathe. On the other hand, the opportunity is that self-limiting beliefs live in the deepest parts of our minds, where we have the power to find them and eliminate them.
In other words, only we are in control -- for better or worse.
In order to exercise that control and banish our mental roadblocks, we can't simply knock our heads into a brick wall to shake them out. Instead, we must force them out with logic and reason, helping our prefrontal cortex to overwhelm those emotion-based thoughts and allow them to evaporate.
To that end, I've discovered an unlikely strategy for reaching even our most ambitious goals, and it is directly related to Newton's law and the science of gravity.
Grab the nearest object around you and hold it up above the ground, with your arm outstretched. Let's pretend it's an apple. Now consider the force being exerted on that apple. Namely, gravity is exerting itself on the apple you hold in your hand. All you've done is give that apple the potential to fall. In other words, you have set the apple in such a way that it has what's called potential energy -- which by Google definition is, "the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position relative to others, stresses within itself, electric charge, and other factors."
The apple has, simply by virtue of its state of being, the potential for gravity to take its course and send the apple plummeting to the ground. That begs the question, what could possibly prevent the suspended apple from fulfilling its potential?
The answer: roadblocks. You would have to physically place a block of some kind in between that apple and the ground in order to disrupt its path. Most interesting is that, typically, people think of success as changing, doing or adding time, energy or resources to an opportunity in order to produce an intended outcome. But what if, like gravity, the potential to achieve was already, inherently present? What if achieving wasn't a matter of adding, but a matter of removing elements that block a naturally occurring path?
What I have learned is that people, like that apple, already have potential by virtue of their position. People have energy, ability, intelligence and insight that gives them an automatic ability to achieve success. Kids understand this intuitively, which is why they typically see no reason why they can't go to the moon, explore the deep sea, fight fires or run an animal shelter. They haven't had the experience of life giving them lemons when they asked for lemonade (as if that were a reason to stop any of us from our potential in the first place).
Adults, on the other hand, disrupt their natural potential all the time with doubts, fears and excuses. Luckily, the first step in reaching your potential is simply to accept that the potential within you is already primed for achievement. It is you who are putting roadblocks in the way of what should otherwise be an easy, natural phenomenon.
Although it seems like a small change of attitude, that mental shift alone might be all it takes to propel you past your self-limiting roadblocks, just as it was for me. If you doubt that achieving greatness could ever be that easy, consider the laws of physics and think about Newton's apple. Then, remove your obstacles, and let nature take its course.
Like Newton, you never know what you might discover.