Wednesday, January 28, 2009
How to Handle Tough Times: Realize Your Potential
By Norman Vincent Peale
Experts generally agree that the average person uses only a fraction of their mental capacity. Some fix this at about 10 percent; a few raise it to 20 percent. No matter which percentage of brain power we use, it’s still a tragic situation. We should always aim to be all that we can be.
Here are three steps you can take to maximize your potential.
1. Believe in yourself.
We do a terrible thing to ourselves when we limit ourselves. Many of us say, "I can’t go beyond this point." Then we start to settle for those limitations. 'This is what I am. Might as well accept it and be content."
Some people even go so far as to say, "It's God's will." But God never willed that we should be less than we can be.
Thus, a truly tragic fact that we must face is that many of us settle for—and actually practice—our limitations. We practice them so constantly and for so long that the limitations become habits. The first step to realizing your potential is to believe that you have potential.
2. Know that nothing is impossible.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once had a boy come to him and say, "The things you write about may work for you, but they don't work for me."
"Why should they work for me and not you?" Dr. Peale asked.
"You aren't the product of a broken family, but I am," the boy replied.
Dr. Peale tried to talk to him but, like a broken record, he kept coming back to the fact that he came from a broken family. His mind held onto that idea and wouldn't let it go. But Dr. Peale’s persistent message gradually broke through his mental barrier. He finally “got” that nothing is impossible when you have faith.
Now, there are egotists whose bloated self-esteem is unpleasant but equally unpleasant is the self-deprecation that you hear from people. They explain over and over how little ability they have and constantly affirm their lack of talent.
What would this world be like if everyone facing a difficulty, handicap or infirmity were to sit back and accept his or her circumstances? Everything would grind to a halt. We all have some problem or deficiency that could hold us back.
Bob Wieland, a man who lost his legs stepping on a landmine in Vietnam, is someone who could have accepted his limitations. Instead he returned to the United States to become a champion weight lifter, marathon runner, tri-athlete, motivational speaker, television actor and an outspoken advocate for those who have no voice: the homeless, the hungry, and the spiritually confused.
Bob's greatest challenge came with a walk across America—propelling himself on padded knuckles—to raise money for the hungry. His handicap was not a hindrance; it was an incentive, a stimulus.
The varieties of self-imposed limitations are legion. Particularly widespread are those that have to do with growing old. Medical specialists and surgeons at a Midwestern clinic came to the conclusion that anyone who expects to lose vigor or experience debilities or degenerative disorders as they age may in fact be producing the precise condition that they fear. Perpetuating the idea that we have to become old and infirm is a self-imposed limitation.
So to achieve our potential we need to stop telling the world and ourselves that we don’t have the capacity to live a good life.
3. Ask for help to break self-imposed limitations.
We must also realize that we cannot conquer big limitations ourselves. God has freed people from self-doubt, a sense of inferiority, from shyness and being overwhelmed by life's difficulties. He has freed them from lust, dishonesty and from limitations of every kind.
So ask yourself: What are you a captive of? Name it, and then turn it over to God. Surrender it to God. Faith in God sets us free.
God never willed that I should be less than I can be.
This article appeared in Guideposts magazine.