Is this myth you were told as a kid still holding you back?
October 5th, 2012 by Agent Kevin Miller
This morning my 3 year old girl Serene asked to watch a movie. I relented. Passing through the living room later I hear that classic line kids are fed,
“You can do and be anything you want!”
This time it was Blue’s Clues dispensing the harmful propaganda. Nothing against them, I’m hip with the Blue folks, but I cringe at the disservice this message dishes out for a TWO reasons:
1. Too Many Choices
Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar studied choice. She ran a test for an article titled, “When Choice is Demotivating”. They set up a free tasting booth in a grocery store, with six different jams. 40% of the customers stopped to taste. 30% of those bought some. A week later, they set up the same booth in the same store, but this time with twenty-four different jams. 60% of the customers stopped to taste. But only 3% bought some! The truth revealed is having many choices seems appealing (40% vs 60% stopped to taste), but having many choices makes them 10 times less likely to buy (30% vs 3% actually bought).
Being told we can ‘do or be anything’ is overwhelming. How the heck do you pick from everything, as if we’re all duplicate robots of the exact same make and model. Any of you do much shopping for ‘one size fits all’ clothing?
2. You really CAN’T do or be anything
The underlying intent is to free folks from limiting themselves…I understand and appreciate that. But again, I think it hurts us. My buddy Scott Stearman is one of the premier bronze sculptors in the country. I see the work he does and the deep stories he tells in his pieces and it blows me away. I can get mesmerized in the idea of being an artist like him and having my work displayed in some of America’s most prominent faith based and military establishments.
So…I can be a sculpture if I want…right?! Well, I’ve seen what it takes. To do what he does entails some excruciating (to me) amounts of detail. Measuring, math, precision, patience. Four things I am naturally horrid at. In truth, I would hate it and as much as I believe in the opportunity hard work provides, I truly don’t believe I could ever achieve much greatness at the craft of sculpting. No different than a duck winning a dog race. It could enter, but ain’t gonna ever win.
I’m free to try it, but most of the ‘anythings’ out there, I’m not personally adept at. I might be mediocre at best…never great.
A better, more truthful and beneficial line of encouragement:
“You can be the best EVER at a few things you were uniquely created for!”
This truth I’ve realized in myself and in so many others. It’s what I’m telling my kids. Are they free to do and try anything? Absolutely! Go at it. But understand that their unique makeup qualifies them to truly excel at a finite amount of tasks and roles. Seek those out and the world is your oyster. This is my great friend Deb Ingino’s quest at www.MyWiredStyle.com and www.Strengthleader.com.
If this sounds legit to you, but you’re left wondering what are those few things you were uniquely designed for…you’ll have to dig in and do the work to figure it out. Chances of you discovering them on your own are slim, we can’t see ourselves fully. Our Nov. 2-4 Free Agent Academy Retreat here in Colorado outside of Colorado Springs is a profound place to start. It’s four weeks from today. Check out details here.
Have you discovered where you are made to excel?