Learn To Love Your Limits

Nathan Smith Christian Maturity, Life Skills

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I walked by Michael Jordan the other night at a Charlotte Hornets game.  No, I didn’t meet him. I was within about six feet of him which is pretty cool since he is the greatest basketball player of all time (I don’t want to hear anything about LeBron, etc…).  There is an important detail that is often overlooked when you think about Jordan being the GOAT. Yes, he could jump out of the gym, score at will and dominate his competition. The key detail that is taken for granted is the very thing that makes him the greatest.  Here it is… he did all these amazing things within the rules of the game. Now, I know that is the most anti-climatic thing you’ve ever heard but before you stop reading, consider this… had Jordan taken more than two steps before he made the iconic ‘jumpan logo dunk’ it wouldn’t have counted. No ‘Air Jordan’. Just ‘great jumping guy who could dunk a basketball real cool.’ He would be no different than the half-time entertainment at an NBA game. Cool stuff, it just doesn’t count because there are trampolines and mascot suits involved. Jordan was the greatest because he was measured by the same rules and limits everyone else had to follow. No rules or limitations and none of it would have counted.  The limits are what proved his greatness. And they are what will prove yours too. (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Separating the Sheep from the GOAT’)

In much of today’s world people prefer to clamor about how unfair the rules are. If the coach doesn’t pick our kid we want to boycott the school. When we don’t get a promotion at work we want to badmouth the company on social media. Today, if something is hard people complain about how hard it is instead of finding a way to allow the restriction to bring forth greatness.  Michael Jordan had to play on the same size court with the same boundary lines as all the other players he competed against.  If he didn’t keep his foot behind the three point line it only counted as a two-point shot, just like anyone else. He didn’t waste his time trying to campaign to have the line moved or argue about not being able to get a running head start in order to drive the lane. He accepted the limitations as they were and used them to make himself a better player. As a matter of fact, the only way we know he was great was because he accepted the limitations placed on him. If he had not submitted himself to the system we would not have been able to clearly see his unique ability. (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Are You Strong Enough To Use Restraint?’)

From Shackles to Springboards

The words ‘limitation’ and ‘restriction’ sound so negative. But the truth is the only time you’ve ever accomplished anything significant was when you focused on an objective, restricted your options and limited yourself in order to achieve the goal. In order to lose weight you have to limit your diet and restrict some of your habits. To read more you have to limit the time you sit watching tv. Those ‘limitations’ turn into catapults when they are placed in the context of accomplishing a goal or reaching an ideal. The issue is we often lose sight of what it is we are trying to accomplish. Once we forget the goal all the restrictions and limitations feel like shackles instead of springboards. Perhaps we want to trick ourselves into believing we can have it both ways? We want to be our own Jordan brand but without having to actually practice, train, make the cut, play within the rules against incredible competition and win consistently while millions watch. For some reason, we just want our picture on the logo and the fame that comes from all the other stuff. But it doesn’t work this way. And if it did, we would be the most miserable people on the planet because we would know just how fake it all was.  (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Some Miracles Are Up To You’)

My friend Jay had to have both of his feet amputated after a serious infection attacked his body. He has new limitations. If he chose to simply hate those limitations he would be laying in bed all day, protesting his new restricted life. He chose to work within the limitations and learn how to walk without feet.  Now, he travels with his band and plays shows for thousands of people each night, standing on two prosthetic feet because he accepted his reality and learned how to thrive within the limitations instead of pouting about their existence. It all comes down to a choice. In 2018 I choose to be more like Jay. What about you? (Click Here To Read My Post ‘The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In’)

Not all rules, limits and restrictions are ‘oppressions’ you have to fight. Many are there to help you grow, mature and develop. Take the challenges you face at school, work, or even at home as an opportunity to become a better version of you. Maybe you’ll have to wake up a little earlier, or watch a little less TV or write a few reports you think are unnecessary? But do it with a great attitude and with the objective of doing it so well people are curious as to why? Show up early to the class you hate. Be the first to say a kind word about the boss you so dislike. Do the things that are required and then go a step further just to push yourself and stretch your mentality. We all face limitations and restrictions whether externally or internally. Choose to move forward and allow those restrictions to focus you toward doing great things. God is for you today and so am I.

From the Bible

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. – Proverbs 29:18 NAS 

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. – Psalm 32:9 NIV 

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
– Proverbs 16:32 NIV

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