Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Holding You Back?

When I was in elementary school, I was often taught a variation of this expression:

"If you want to be something in life, work hard and study hard".

I heard it from teachers, parents and others who felt that it was positive motivation.

Some of you heard variations such as:

"If you want to be like uncle Joe, your father, your mother, the President of the United States, etc, etc."

The brain, being the wonderful miracle that it is, sees one interesting element - the word "if".  The brain subconsciously jumps to an interesting conclusion - that being "something" is a future event and not a present reality and therefore, perhaps I am nothing at the moment (since I should be aspiring to be something in the future and not enjoying what I am right now).

Meanwhile, many children are cautioned to be careful of catastrophic results when experiencing life.  For example:

"Be careful playing in the street so that you are not run over and killed by a car".

"Don't talk to a stranger because they will kidnap you and you will never be returned to mommy or daddy".

"Don't play on the pier or you will fall over and drown".

"Don't go jumping on your bike - I don't need to be taking you to the hospital with a broken neck".

"Don't spend your money all at once because there's no more where that came from - do you think money grows on trees?"

Or the great favorite from this time of year:

"Don't eat apples that you get during Halloween.  Everyone knows that they have razor blades and straight pins in them that will kill you.  Somebody two blocks over died that way last year."

I'm not saying that sound advice, especially things like caution when speaking to strangers, is a bad thing.  However, what many of these "rules" suggest is that if you try anything at all, the worst of all outcomes will befall you and that the world is a smorgasbord of life crippling / life ending traps.

So think about what this programming produces in your life.  Imagine a belief system similar to the following.

First of all, I am nothing.  I won't bother trying to be something because I won't achieve it.  The sooner I accept this, the less angst I will have in my life.

Secondly, if I dare believe that I am something, whatever I try will result in cataclysmic failure anyway so I will avoid the failure by not trying in the first place.  There's nothing more embarrassing in life than being a failure at something or disappointing others through my failure.

If I see someone else trying to make something out of their life, I will do what I can to save them from failure and embarrassment by convincing them to cease immediately, thereby saving them from inevitable disappointment. 

If I cannot stop them from striking out on their own, I will do what I can to discredit them in front of others, pointing out that clearly I am smarter because I wouldn't embark upon inevitable failure as they have.  When their failure comes, I will cherish it ("I tried to tell you but you wouldn't listen").

Where does this leave you?

I am nothing and failure will always result when I go out of my comfort zone or strive for something important to me.


I am safest when I live my life as others wish me to live it, even if it produces immense frustration and disappointment for me.  However, when people ask me if I am content, I will always say yes.

Sounds dreadful, doesn't it?  Most of us will deny that we experience this or live like this.

However, how similar does your childhood programming from many years ago seem to what you feel today?

"I won't start that new business - 4 out of 5 businesses fail anyway."

"It's a stupid idea - nobody will be interested."

"Am I really smart enough to do this - probably not."

"Will others be disappointed or disapproving of me if I try this?"

"I don't have enough money to accomplish this, so why bother trying since I will run out of money before I get successful and will end up bankrupt anyway?"

"I cannot succeed because I experienced _______ (insert life crippling event here) and everyone knows that if you experience ______, you cannot be successful."

"Somebody else is probably already doing it and doing it better, so why bother?"

"I don't want to be embarrassed when I fail (not if I fail but when I fail)."

No wonder we live in a world where people are afraid to engage their purpose and passion.  Most of us have been programmed to avoid it and while avoiding it, we watch with envy as other people escape this trap and seek to manifest their destiny.  As they do it, it reinforces our behavior that we are incapable of accomplishing the same results since they must be smarter, richer, more good looking, have more time on their hands, not be tied down by life commitments, not be tied down by debts, have a more supportive life partner, etc.

What a sad place that puts most of us - yearning to be what we want to be and what we are capable of and yet feeling unfulfilled because we can't seem to get to that which we believe to be our reason for being.

Most of us are living a lie.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been speaking to a number of people about a theme that is a particular favorite of mine:

"If you had unlimited time, energy and money, what would you be doing right now?"

Most people pick a career or vocation other than that which they are doing at that moment.  When I challenge them as to why they are not living this life now, they provide a rich diversity of reasons .... or should I say excuses.

There are some legitimate reasons but they aren't as plentiful as people want to believe.  The truth is that many reasons boil down to fear or the inability of people to believe that they are capable of manifesting their purpose (as noted in the original programing of the brain I described earlier), a variation of fear.

Last year, I blogged about living a life of passion (  In that article, I discussed the notion of overcoming the crippling beliefs that hold you back, to seek out that which you believe you are called to be on this beautiful planet and to instill a sense of urgency you need to embark upon a no-compromise plan towards fulfilling that destiny. 

You know what you don't like and what you feel that you can't do in life and can explain it with great passion.  How about finding what you want and need to do in your life, fuel it with the same passion level and observe the results that you achieve?

In other words, apply a cranial defibrillator (a defibrillator to your head) and get engaged in your life.  It's your life - not someone else's.  Love and embrace the miracle that you are and do something that leaves a legacy.

As you progress towards greater realities, take the time to share this concept with others and do what you can to empower them as well. 

Someone is waiting for your help right now.   Embrace your destiny.  You are too great a miracle to do anything other than fulfill your purpose.

Yours in service and servanthood.



PS   I read something the other day by Christian D. Larson, in a piece known as "Promise Yourself" or alternately, "The Optimist's Creed".

I'd like to share it with you.

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.


  1. Hi Harry. This is Roxanne, I had the pleasure of having this talk with you today. I am thrilled that you put it into words for others to see because it had quite an impact on my view of the control in which I possess over my life! I shared this conversation to a friend this evening and she too left feeling inspired and energized about her life. Thanks for putting the enthusiasum back into my life! Look forward to your next blog!

  2. Roxanne,

    I am deeply honored by your kind words. It was a privelege to spend time with you and your fellow team members today and I look forward to continued sharing moving forward.

    Take care and create a great day!


  3. Thank you so much for this post, Harry. Many times we're not aware of the words we use and just how powerful they are. When your mom told you as you rode away on your bike, "Be careful! Don't do anything crazy!" What she was really saying was, "If you try anything out of the ordinary, you'll fail and you won't be able to handle it." This type of fearful progamming like you said was instilled in us so many times. But looking back, you might now realize that what she was really saying was, "Don't do anything crazy because if anything were to happen to you, I wouldn't be able to handle it." She was also commenting on her own fears of not being able to handle adversity. (I read this idea in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.) This realization might help to break through some of the fear that loved ones instill in us.

    Also just as powerful are the words we use every day. You mentioned "if." Others are "I will be" and "I'll try to be." All imply one thing - that you're not right now.

    One of my passions in life is writing (something that I just recently discovered). Although it's hard sometimes, I make a conscious effort not to say, "I will be a writer," but "I am writer" so I send a strong message to my subconscience that this is a present reality, and the writer already present in me is being manifested more and more every day.

    Anyway, thanks for your posts. They're truly a source of inspiration and a reminder to live every day pursuing our passions with gratitude.

  4. Hi Julie,

    Many thanks for your thoughtful response. You raised a very interesting point that I hadn't considered when posting the blog -that the other person's fear of dealing with adversity accidentally causes them to implant fear in you. Unfortunately the cycle continues through the generations.

    Thanks for the book recommendation - I will definitely check it out!

    Good luck following your passion, Julie. Drive it hard and be a role model for others to do the same.

    Create a great day!


  5. Harry, I've been referred to you by a common friend. I´m Robert, and the past 3 months I've been in HELL: lost my job, my wife filed for divorce, and with the crisis, I can´t seem to get things straight.
    But in your words I´m finding solace and guidance.

  6. Dear Robert,

    I am very sorry to hear this. Please do me a favor. Post a comment with your email address in it and I will reach out to you.

    I will NOT publish the comment with your email address in it.

    Take care and hang in there.


  7. Harry, Like always insightful. I especially liked all the childhood cautions that you expressed. We spend our childhood learning how to avoid, our teen years rebelling about what we learned and our adult years putting things into perspective. Taking risks in life helps one learn how to get it right.

    Thanks again Harry I passed this on to a friend who is struggling with the issues you outlined.