“A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chickens and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air. Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.”
This reminds me of the Henry Ford quote that “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”.
All that is not to say that you can go ahead and tell anything to yourself and be delusional. A lot of smart people with wrong thinking have been produced in this way. Taking the above example if the chicken who is an actual chicken just told himself that it in fact was an Eagle it won’t magically start flying across the skies. But we have to tell ourselves has the right stories so that we fulfill our true potential, whatever that might be.
All the countries that gained independence from their oppressors did so by starting telling themselves alternate stories than what were prevalent at the time, that their people’s destiny was not to live under someone else rule, not be subjects but to have their own voice in their own land.
The stories we tell ourselves are so important because stories shape the way we think, the way we behave, the way we’ll act.
So find the right stories, surround yourself with them and tell them to yourself. Often.