I was looking at a picture of an iceberg the other day and it reminded me of an analogy I once heard.
Human potential is like an iceberg - what you see on the surface is nothing compared to what lies beneath.
What do we know about Icebergs?
An iceberg is a large mass of free-floating ice that has broken away from a glacier. Beautiful but potentially dangerous, icebergs are made up of freshwater ice, pieces of debris, trapped bubbles of air and they wander over the ocean until they melt.
An iceberg floats because it is less dense than the sea water that surrounds it and in fact 80-90% of an iceberg sits below the waterline. Most people have heard the story, or watched a film about Titanic, the ship which on its maiden voyage struck an iceberg which caused catastrophic damage and ended the levels of over 1500 people. The reason the Titanic was destroyed had nothing to do with the iceberg that was visible above the waterline and everything to do with what was hidden beneath.
Scientists say that at most we use 10% of the capacity of our brain and therefore the available knowledge and possibility of human potential is 10 times that which we currently access. Imagine what we could discover, what we could do and what we could achieve if we increased our functioning by even 10%?
At an individual level we tend to think small. We create a vision of ourselves based upon the conditioning of society, our families, our education and our peers. Whatever is ‘acceptable or normal’ in the time of our growing up years, becomes the framework within which we live our lives.
And yet, just like the iceberg which shows only a tiny part of itself to the world above the waterline whilst plunging the depths below, you too have a depth of potential you may never have explored. The face you show to the world, and more importantly the face you show to yourself is often nothing more than a reflection of the ideas, understandings and limitations of the people around you.
Imagine if you had been born in a previous time. It wasn’t until the 6th Century that Pythagoras first suggested the earth was round. Prior to this, believe it or not, people looked to the horizon and assumed that the earth was flat. Needless to say they were not keen to sail too far in case they fell of the end of the planet. Now of course we all grow up with the understanding that our planet is a sphere which orbits around the sun. In the same way, once upon a time we had no idea of the size of an iceberg!
Just because something is the accepted way of thinking doesn’t necessarily make it the truth.
The same is true for you. Just because you have defined and limited yourself in a certain way doesn’t mean that you are correct. The picture you create of yourself and what is possible for you is exactly what your life will reflect.
When an iceberg flips over it causes huge amounts of energy to be released. In fact scientists believe that a rolling iceberg may release as much energy as an atomic bomb and can cause a tsunami or even trigger an earthquake.
What if you too have the power to create a tsunami in your own life? What if everything you thought you knew about yourself if just the tip of the iceberg? What if you were to flip everything you know on its head and look again. What might you see then?
Our brain has a need to categorise things, to put them into boxes as it is essentially a massive filing system. So as we go through life we form ‘measures’ with which we define the people and happenings around us.
If I say the word success, you will immediately have a picture of what success looks like to you. I can guarantee that the person next to you will have a different definition but the one you create for yourself is the one that governs this part of your life.
To illustrate the power of this let me give you some questions to ask yourself. The answers to these questions will allow you to see the definition you have formed around success.
If I was successful …
- Where would I live?
- How much money would I make a year?
- What car would I drive?
- What would my partner look like?
- What lifestyle would I have?
- What would my relationships look like?
- What would I be wearing?
- What would I look like?
- How happy would I be?
- Who would my friends be?
For some people the answers to these questions spurs them on to great achievement. But for most, the definition of success is so far away from how you see yourself now that it erodes your confidence and undermines any feeling of self-worth.
So we push the idea of success to the back of our mind and settle for less than what we deserve, less than what we are capable of and become nothing more than the tip of the iceberg.
There is more within you than you know. Perhaps its time to change your measure of success and define it in a way that is achievable for you. Maybe then, you will discover the depth of your potential that lies just beneath the face you see in the mirror.