You are capable of doing far more than you think is possible. With the right tools and support, you can do the impossible.
Driving a Motorcycle
I learned how to drive a motorcycle this week!
This is a big deal.
A really big deal.
Because I’m legally blind. I haven’t been able to drive anything in years because of my visual impairment.
So, you see, driving a motorcycle is a huge deal for me because it meant doing the impossible.
I am not reckless, and I don’t harbor any illusions about my limitations. I know that there are things that I am not physically capable of doing (like reading a street sign or regular font on a phone). It’s not a matter of not believing in myself. It’s a matter of my retinas not working properly.
And that paid dividends this week.
Initially, I felt nervous and apprehensive. Afterward, exhilarated and alive. And overwhelmed with emotion.
It’s hard to put into words how it felt to succeed at something I didn’t even believe was possible. To feel brave and capable and independent. To feel free and unburdened by my disability, even if only temporarily. It was incredible.
I’ve had a chance to reflect on this powerful experience, to consider what it takes to dare to do the impossible. This is what I’ve come up with.
Question What Is Possible
In 2015, I made the decision to stop driving. It was glaringly clear that I was no longer able to safely drive a car, and I’m sure that stubborn refusal to accept that would’ve resulted in someone getting hurt. It was just a matter of time. Even transports like golf carts and bicycles get a little dicey unless I go exceptionally slow or have someone leading the way. So I learned how to navigate the bus system and was incredibly grateful when Uber became a reliable option.
Since then, it’s not like my vision has improved any. In fact, it’s gotten worse. So I’ve accepted as fact that driving a motorized vehicle is not an option for me, at least until Tesla masters the self-driving car.
Driving an actual motorcycle by myself was not in the realm of possibility.
Then my dear friend Michael threw out the question, “Do you want to learn how to drive my motorcycle?”
My knee jerk reaction was, “I don’t think I can.”
Michael knows me well and is well-acquainted with my vision. He’s also not reckless. I absolutely believe that he would not put me – or his bike – in a position to be harmed, so his question made me pause to consider…Could I?
Lesson: Too often, we accept our perceived limitations as fact when they may not be anything other than belief. Question what is actually possible and dare to dream that something just might be.
Find the Right Support
With patient teaching and a lot of encouragement, I learned how to control the bike. If Michael hadn’t believed so steadfastly in my capability, this experience would not have happened.
Now don’t get me wrong. He was not unrealistic. This was not a Pollyanna-you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to-if-you-just-believe-in-yourself scenario here. He clearly told me not to go above second gear to keep the speed in a range my visual field could keep up with. He didn’t turn me loose on a busy street where I’d be a liability to myself or others. He kept a firm grasp on meaningful parameters, but encouraged/pushed/challenged/allowed me to succeed well beyond what I thought was possible.
Lesson: You don’t always need a social ankle weight, tethering you down masquerading as a “voice of reason.” You need people who help clear the path to allow you to succeed and people who see your strengths and potential and challenge you to push the boundaries, to be the best version of you that you can be.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Beyond those parameters of speed and location that kept me safe, we also did this at night.
For many people, this may seem like an odd choice. For me, however, this was truly the condition that allowed me to be successful.
My vision is drastically affected by light, and my eyes basically shut down in brightness. If we’d tried this during the afternoon sun, there’s no way I could’ve done it. Opting to try this venture in the dark, and on private streets I was very familiar with, helped offset my visual limitations.
Lesson: Consider the context. Choose conditions that counteract your weaknesses, amplify your strengths, and set you up for success.
It takes courage to try something that you’re not sure you can do. You have to be willing to risk failure and the pain that comes with it. When the outcome isn’t guaranteed, when you’re not 100% certain how things will turn out (and let’s be real here, we never truly know how things are going to go), it can be uncomfortable at a minimum to outright terrifying to take the leap, depending on the perceived risk.
Being brave doesn’t mean feeling confident, having certainty, or feeling calm. It means embracing the discomfort, not letting anxiety hold you back, and doing it anyways.
Being brave is a strength that can be developed, a habit that can be cultivated. And it’s invaluable.
Lesson: There’s no way to stretch your comfort zone, reach your peak, or hit your actual ceiling without tapping into courage.
The Right Mindset
I am continually awed by realizations of just how powerful beliefs can be. I don’t think anything else shapes our life experience as much as our beliefs do. They impact literally every aspect of our life from the automatic thoughts and reactions we have in the moment to our sense of identity to the decisions we make to how we interpret what happens to us.
The gravity of our beliefs is enormous.
Yet very few people have a good grasp of how beliefs work, how they are formed, and how to ensure that they are not exerting a negative impact on life.
That’s why our next quarterly psych strength workshop will tackle this foundational topic. You won’t want to miss it.
Join us live on Tuesday October 18 at 12 CST, or catch the digital replay on demand inside the Peak Mind Platform. Get your ticket for Beyond Belief: The Psychology of How Beliefs Are Formed and Why They’re So Hard to Change here.
With the right conditions and the right kind of support – sitting squarely atop a foundation of a strong belief system – you just may be able to exceed what you thought was possible.
I certainly did.
While I won’t be racing in any Motorcycle Grand Prix or even investing in a bike of my own, that ride was a pivotal moment for me and one for which I will be eternally grateful.