My son has Autism, and some days can be much more challenging than others – but if he’s taught me nothing else, I’ve learned nothing is impossible. When we first received the diagnosis he was non-verbal, and we were repeatedly told he would “plateau” regardless of how much therapy he had. This was many years ago, the medical profession is learning more about Autism every day and realizing they really don’t know what those with Autism are capable of. Academically, he will not be a Rhodes scholar; but where it matters – his social and everyday living skills, he’s blossomed. He’s never going to be a chatterbox, but he will engage with people – even initiate the conversation.
As parents I think most of us recognize and admit we’ll do anything for our children; but often I think we’re not as true to ourselves. We teach our children right from wrong, and hold them accountable; yet where is that accountability when we say we’re going to do something? Why is it acceptable for us to give in when the going gets tough, rather than opting not to take the path of least resistance and fighting for what we want. When somebody you are coaching says “I can’t, it’s too hard” you don’t let them off the hook. Yet for many of us when something seems too hard, we quit or find a work around – telling ourselves “it’s just as good” or “it’ll do”.
I get it, there is only so much bandwidth or energy a person has; and we need to pick and choose our battles. I can agree with that, but my issue is who is picking the battles we fight. Are we, or are we letting outside influences tell us what’s important. If you want something, it’s realistic and it’s in your power to achieve – then what’s really stopping you from reaching for it. To clarify, in your power to achieve does not mean you’ll have it tomorrow. Sometimes you will have to make sacrifices and be patient for that which you really want; but the feeling when it’s in your grasp is like nothing else in this world. The first time you achieve something you really stretched for you’ll understand you truly are unstoppable – the only thing that can get in your way is you.
This requires a paradigm shift. For those who pay attention, even minimally, to what others think or feel about them the first step will be putting that in perspective. Yes, perceptions are important at times – like the workplace; but they shouldn’t define who you are. It is not mutually exclusive to work for one’s goals and help other’s achieve theirs. Instead, find people on similar paths – use each other as leverage to get over the humps and roadblocks that will arise along the way. Motivate each other, when the words “I can’t” come out, challenge them. Is it “I can’t”, or is it “I won’t”?
Set milestones, and celebrate victories along the way. Not every victory has to be major, celebrating smaller victories keeps the momentum and motivation high. Setbacks only become failures if you stop; otherwise they are opportunities for reflection. What went wrong, why did it go wrong, and how can you prevent something similar in the future. Understand you cannot plan for every eventuality, especially when goals have a long time horizon; so accept there will be times when you will seem to hit a wall and tell yourself “I will overcome all obstacles”. You are powerful, why not use that power to achieve what you desire?!