I was watching one of those shows recently where people have to go through a crazy obstacle course to get to the finish line. There are a lot of these types of shows on – some silly where people fall in hilarious ways, some that push people to physical limits, and some where you have to be able to fly to accomplish the tasks.
I think one of the reasons these shows appeal to us is because we feel like we are up against it. There are so many obstacles in this world. Giant walls to climb. Tricky obstacles to navigate.
Almost all of us would like to be living a little better than we currently are. We want a little more out of life. What exactly are the obstacles? What is holding us back?
Shapes and People and Circumstances, OH MY!
The truth is, there is a lot you can’t control. This is devastating for our agendas. We can’t do certain things because people won’t do what we want! They refuse to agree with us or help us. They sometimes work actively against what we think is best.
These are real obstacles. And we view life this way. We view people and circumstances as the curved walls of the maze, the giant vat of foam waiting to swallow us up, or the impossibly far apart lily pads to jump to.
We are runners on the course and the people are the obstacles. The circumstances are the challenge to overcome.
The truth is, this is only partly true. There is a much more subtle and dangerous foe lurking.
The number one thing holding us back is our own perception. We focus on the way things impact us rather than our ability to influence. We focus on our fear rather than our potential. We start to create stories about the negative consequences of failing while casually ignoring the potential consequences of not giving it a try.
People and circumstances are outside your control. They literally cannot hold you back. They can make it hard on you. But only you can hold you back.
A victim is someone who has no choices. And while people can certainly do and say things that limit our choices, they cannot eliminate them all together. No matter how hard it is, no matter what others say or do to get in the way, your truest competitor is yourself. Your ability to take ownership of the three things you can control. Your willingness to govern your choices and steward them well.
Of course, there are some things that are outside your ability (we have some friends in South Africa who call this “thumb-sucking dreams”). But what is within your ability is the capacity to discern what is in your ability. If you are living outside of reality, that is your own self holding you back in another form.
You are capable of discovering truth and discerning choices. You are capable of living the life of character you long for. Get out of your own way and run the race set before you.