We once had a track coach when I was in high school who tried to convince us that there is no limit to how fast we can run, that the only barrier limiting our speed is in our minds not in our physical capacity. He’s got to be kidding I remember thinking, not with these short legs, that’s why I was a long distance runner, not a sprinter. But even among the fast guys as I recall no one ever went on to become a record-breaking Olympic gold-medalist, so my teammates must not have believed the coach any more than I did.
He was right, though, I’ve since learned. Most of the barriers that hold us back from tackling a challenge or achieving success exist in our minds not because of our limited capacity. I thought about that recently when we received the exciting news that our third grandchild will be arriving sometime in late September. It reminded me of the self-doubt I experienced when our second child was on the way. How can I love the second one as much as the first, I wondered? Can I provide for a larger family? Will I be able to devote as much time to the second child as I do with the first without neglecting the older one? Of course, all those struggles with self-doubt completely vanished the moment I saw the little guy – and the rest is history. The capacity I had to love and provide time and energy was so much greater than I ever imagined. The only barrier that had limited me from realizing that in the first place was in my mind.
On May 6, 1954 in Oxford, England Roger Bannister became the first person on record to run the mile in under four minutes. Prior to that time the world had deemed it an impossible feat – that there was a limit how fast the human body could run such a grueling distance. Not so, the coach was trying to convince us.
On November 9, 1977, the day our second child was born, my capacity to love exploded into a new dimension – not just for our newborn son, but equally so for his older brother, as well as their mother. And now I have no doubt about my capacity to love our new grandchild every bit as much as his or her older sister and cousin – all three, and their parents, even more! Coach was right; our limited capacity is all in our minds.