Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about something really great, something that would be really cool to be, do, or have in your life…and then suddenly slap your mind’s face to snap yourself out of it and dismiss it as just a silly fantasy that could never happen in reality?

Of course you have. We all have. Well, it’s time to realize that they are not just silly fantasies.

Daydreams are revelations of your own potential.

Your daydreams can come true—if you want them to badly enough to do whatever it might take to make them come true. That last is the key. If you’re not willing to work hard at making your dreams come true, then go ahead and slap your mind’s face—because in that case, they are just fantasies.

How Deep Are Your Stakes?

Human potential is a phenomenal thing. You’ve doubtless heard that we only use something in the neighborhood of five to ten percent of our brainpower. A big reason for this is our conditioning.

When circus elephants are young, they are chained to a stake driven deep into the ground; this prevents them from pulling free and running amok. Even baby elephants are tremendously strong creatures—but as strong as they are, that stake is driven so deep that try as they may, they can’t pull hard enough to yank that stake free from the ground. Eventually, that animal grows accustomed to the fact that he can’t pull free. In fact, even once he’s full-grown, mighty bull elephant, he’ll still assume he can’t pull free, so he won’t even try…

…Despite the fact that now, the stake is driven only a foot or so into the ground!

Amazing, isn’t it? The animal is conditioned, and its conditioning is far more powerful than any physical reality.

Most of us have been conditioned as young children by an incredible array of unreal, illusory yet very powerful barriers. Parents and other authority figures repeatedly tell us, don’t do this, don’t do that, you can’t do this, you can’t do that…unwittingly exerting a tremendous amount of negative influence over us. Eventually, we are conditioned to believe that we can’t do anything. All too often, on those occasions when we dare to share our dreams with others, they only reinforce our subconscious beliefs with their limiting opinions—after all, they’ve been conditioned the same way! It looks like a seemingly never-ending cycle of self-limiting beliefs.

But here’s the liberating thing: If he would only try, any elephant could yank out that stake with only a fraction of his strength! And so can you.

Other People’s Reality Isn’t

In order to actualize your potential and achieve your dreams, you first need to overcome your self-limiting beliefs—to yank the stake. Overcoming self-limiting beliefs is a simple process, but not necessarily an easy one.

First, put the feedback you receive from others in its proper perspective. Remember that other people’s opinions are only that; they do not necessarily have any basis in fact. People’s opinions are founded in their perceptions of reality—and that “reality” may not be real at all. You can’t change what people say, but you can certainly overcome the artificial barriers they create.

The other day I was watching the men’s 5000-meter speed skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics. A young man from the US named Derek Parra was about to skate his first-ever Olympic race. Before Parra’s race, Dan Jansen, who was doing the television commentary, commented that Derek didn’t really have a chance to win that competition. Derek was only skating in the race, said Jansen, to get accustomed to the Olympic experience before skating in the 1500-meter race, which is his specialty.

What actually happened was quite different. Derek skated the best race of his career in the 5000-meter event—and broke the world record! Another skater later broke Derek’s record in the event, but he still went home with Olympic Silver.

No doubt, Derek was aware that no one really expected him to do all that well in that event, much less win a medal. But on that day, in that event, he was able to overcome the artificial barrier placed before him. He yanked hard on that stake—and pulled it free with one hard tug.

Self-Talk

You also need to overcome the barriers you create yourself. To do this, you must become acutely aware of what you say to yourself. Psychologists call this “self-talk.”

You are constantly engaged in self-talk, though you seldom realize you’re doing it. Self-talk is an incredibly powerful force—and it can be a powerful force that works for you, or one that works against you, depending on whether it’s positive or negative.

Making your dreams come true requires that you make an ongoing, conscious effort to engage only in self-talk that is positive. Here is the good news: unlike feedback from others, which you cannot change, your self-talk is completely within your control.

Pay very close attention to the kinds of things you are saying to yourself, especially as they relate to your dreams. When you catch yourself in a negative self-talk mode, immediately replace that negative thought with its positive opposite. When you catch yourself thinking you can’t do a particular thing, immediately replace that thought with the thought that you can. This will seem a bit cumbersome at first, but eventually it will feel as natural as breathing. The result will be not only that your self-imposed, artificial barriers start to disappear, but also your movement towards your goals will start gaining momentum. Eventually it will reach unstoppable velocity.

The next time you catch yourself daydreaming about something that would be really cool to be, do, or have in your life, don’t slap your mind’s face.

Instead, recognize it for the revelation of your potential that it is. Commit yourself to doing whatever it takes to bring that revelation to fruition. Refuse to let any illusory, artificial barriers deter you from rising to your full potential. You are not a calf, you’re a full-grown elephant. Give those stakes a good yank!

BOB FORD is a network marketer who lives in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.