Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars
-W. Clement Stone
I had a strange dream last night. I was playing a game of 2 on 2 pick up basketball. I didn’t recognize anyone I was playing with, but I remember that they were very good. In real life, I do enjoy playing basketball and I rely on my jump shot (although it’s been a long time since I’ve played!) In this dream however I was not shooting at all; I was driving to the basket and as I got closer I recognized something very strange: the rims were at the official height of 10 feet but the ceiling was only a foot and half above the rim. If you’ve ever played basketball before, you’d know that depending on where you are shooting from you need quite a bit more of ceiling room (much more than just a foot and a half) for the ball to have a chance of falling through the hoop!
This image of playing basketball in a low ceiling gym could relate to many different ideas. Initially, when I woke up from this dream, I was thinking about the expectations I have of myself. In particular, the idea that if your expectations (ceiling) of yourself are low your attempts are never going to have a chance no matter how hard you try if you don’t create a mental context of space, possibility and belief, which might consist of positivity and growth. In the context of the dream, the idea that you ‘have to aim higher than the rim’ resonated with me which then reminded me of the above quote from W. Clement Stone.
The effects of our expectations can have a subtle and insidious effect when they are negative or limited. Just like playing basketball in a low ceiling gym; if we accept our current mental context (whether that be our frame of mind, our beliefs, or the influence on our mental state by our work, family or friends whom surround us) as acceptable instead of rejecting conditions when they aren’t working for us anymore, we can end up in a situation where none of our attempts have chance at being successful.
Living small serves no one; accepting the conditions of your limited low ceiling expectations only limits you.
I want to remember to never let current circumstances or past experiences dictate what is possible. To grow, one must by definition reach beyond one’s current abilities, resources and beliefs. This can be very uncomfortable and disconcerting to do. Change is often unsettling. There is often comfort in the known even if that known is unsatisfying or even painful to us (Think of the need to change unhealthy eating, a smoking habit or a dysfunctional relationship).
This dream challenged me to raise the ceiling of my expectations.
- To expect that I can and need to handle more than I have in the past in order to grow.
- To expect that I will be fine even though things will be difficult and uncomfortable at first.
- To expect that I can work harder than I’ve worked before.
- To expect that I have something useful to offer others.
- To expect that I can be flexible when things don’t go the way I hope.
These are some of my ideas of how to raise the ceiling of my expectations. What do you think of this metaphor of playing with a low ceiling? Are there other ways of using this image? What expectations could you raise in your own life that would help you grow?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!