Mapping the limit of our potential

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I am very particular about living a purposeful life. I have sought out my purpose(read more on finding your purpose) and, although it’s something I keep refining, I will share it with you in it’s current form.

”I am creating a world full of conscious people. People who love themselves and others around them. People who have a lot of inner strength and discipline. People who listen to their Inner Guide and seek out their purpose. People who live a purposeful life. People who have wonder and a sense of seeking. People who create beauty. People who are joyous and happy.”

These are changes I am making as much in myself as in the world around me.

I recently shared it with a few people and twice I heard that it’s impossible to change the attitudes of billions of people in this world. Others, who didn’t say the same, had an incredulous look in their eyes that betrayed similar sentiments. :)

This response raises a very interesting question – ‘What is the limit of an individual’s potential? How much can we exactly accomplish as humans?’

We are born into a human body. As such, we have far more potential than other animals. Most humans live very simple lives but there are also those who achieve great feats.

Most people assume that to find and hold a good job, to earn and save enough for a house and some other comforts is adequate achievement in life. This, over time, is also what they come to define as their potential. They talk in terms of what job title they can earn for themselves and how much salary they can demand.

That we can accomplish more, is evident from the lives of great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Sachin Tendulkar, Bill Gates, Dhirubhai Ambani and so many more. Maybe you can argue that these great people are made of a different mettle. Maybe I can argue you are just trying to explain away your fears and laziness. You don’t want to accept responsibility for your life and find excuses. I don’t think there can be an end to that argument. So for the sake of this article at least, I will ask you to assume what I have come to believe – ‘We are all born with the same potential, the difference is in what we make of it.’

Now that we are decided that we can accomplish a lot, the question arises, ‘How much exactly?’

On one hand, there is personal achievement, the idea of changing oneself and one’s own life(Sachin Tendulakar, Mike Tyson), on the other hand, there is changing the life of the masses(Gandhi Ji, Nelson Mandela). There are also those who have achieved great personal feats that have changed the life of the masses(Bill Gates, Wright Brothers, Dhirubhai Ambani).

All though these people might look like they worked differently, either only on personal accomplishment or to bring about change for others, they have something in common. They all changed themselves tremendously in their lives. They worked on themselves as a sculptor would work on his best piece. Read Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘The Story of My Experiments With Truth’ to see what I mean. Sachin Tendulkar is known to leave no stones unturned in his practise. He is known to still practice longer hours than other players, players who are way younger and fit than he is.

Any change in our reality always starts from within. All that we want changed, has to be effected by our actions and deeds and by a change in our current state. When the thought of eating an ice cream enters your mind, whether you are going to have it depends upon whether you are willing to make the required change in yourself for it, namely, get up and go out to the shop, buy it and eat it. If you are ready to make this internal change from immobility to motion, you are able to bring about the desired outcome.

If you want a car, you think of what you need to do for it. This may require lots more effort than an ice cream. You may have to start looking for a better paying job, you may have to start saving. So is it possible for a person to own a car? I think most of you will agree it is. Yet there are those who think of it as too big a thing for themselves. They consider it ‘impossible’.

Think of owning a house, think of a personal jet, think of a business empire worth billions… As the dreams become bigger, the internal change(some may call it sacrifice) required to achieve it also becomes bigger.

Most people have a level to which they are ready to make that internal change. It differs from person to person. So, actually, every person’s limit is different! When people reach the point where they don’t want to make the internal change, they stop. Anything that they would want to have but is higher than their limit can be explained away in 2 ways – ‘It is possible but I am not ready to make the internal change.’ or, more commonly, ‘It is just impossible for a human to do it!’. The second explanation is very convenient. Saying to yourself that you want something but don’t want to make the effort might hurt your own pride. So you just comfortably call it impossible and leave it. But this is very addictive(like most bad habits). It becomes your second nature and you don’t even realize it! When someone accomplishes this feat, you might feel any number of emotions – envy, discomfort, sadness, dejection or even anger at that person. If it is someone you don’t know, you just call that person a genius or extraordinary and let it be.

Now, since we have told ourselves that certain things are just beyond normal human potential, when we ever think of a higher desired outcome, the only possibility seems a change in the people around us – My parents and relatives should do this for me. The police should change, the politicians should change, the whole system needs a change, the world needs to change!

And all this while the only change required is within yourself. It’s fully within your grasp. It may not seems easy, bad habits are difficult to leave. An addict often thinks it’s impossible for him to leave his addiction. But it is possible, only a fierce desire is required.

So can I change the whole world and make it like I want it? I absolutely believe so, it is a matter of making the required internal change for it. The change required may be something very few stick out with, but it is possible. Maybe it requires total devotion to expanding myself for the rest of my life, may be it requires me to become a lighthouse of motivation for people around me. But it is possible.

Some of you might be thinking – ‘This person here is crazy!’ But this person here has made himself a resolve to make this change. This person here is not going to settle for anything less than what he has understood to be his purpose. This person here is not going to accept that what he wants cannot be done. This person here refuses to accept ‘he’ cannot do it. This person has his fears and doubts, but moves on in spite of them. This person here is not going to wait for others to make the change he wants, this person here is not going to blame others for his state, he assumes full and complete responsibility. He is not a loner trying to prove he can do things alone, he is ready and willing for like minded to join in, but he is not dependent on them, nor waiting for them. He believes as he progresses more and more, he is going to inspire more and more people to join in of their own free will.

Be the change you want to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

In the next post, I will discuss a very powerful technique you can use to expand upon your personal potential. Until next time… :)

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