December 21, 2011

Is the barrier real?

On my regular 3-mile walk, I cut through the Earl Warren Showgrounds property near my neighborhood, because it shortens the distance I have to walk along the shoulder of a busy thoroughfare. The showgrounds are home to fairs, festivals, horse shows, cat shows, Christmas tree vendors and any other event that needs a big space and a big parking lot.

Entering the property for the first time from Entrance C, I encountered this closed gate.

The first time I walked through the property, I eyed the situation and went under the gate.

It made sense, but it was a little tight, especially with my backpack.

The next time I walked through, I decided to see if I could squeeze through the space between the end of the gate and the fence.

I could get through, but it was still pretty tight. And when I'm on a power walk, I don't want anything to slow me down!

The next time, I eyed the gate again, studying it for clues as to the best way to get past it.

And then I realized that the biggest opening was the one inside the gate.

I bent over, slipped through, and continued on my way.

How did I not see this HUGE opening in the gate? Somehow, even though the gate was just an open triangle of bars, I had looked at the center of it as somehow solid and impassable.

Going around the gate didn't work. Going under the gate didn't work. Going THROUGH the gate was the easiest path! But I never saw it until I had walked that way for days.

Are you imagining barriers that aren't really there?

Do you avoid public speaking because you think you're too boring, you're too shy, you're too disorganized, you're too loud, you're too quiet, you're too "something?" Or not enough of something? And is this a real problem, or are you just imagining it to be?

Sometimes we imagine the audience is judging us or doesn't like us or isn't listening. Is it true, or is your fear and insecurity getting in the way of your connection with the audience?

Maybe the barriers are all in your head. At least entertain the thought.

And then decide how you're going to break down those invisible barriers -- my series on Thought Traps is a good place to start.

Knocking down the barriers opens up new paths and new experiences. Don't let what's in your head stand in the way of your progress in the tangible, concrete world around you.

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