No one likes to fail at anything. Consequently, many people never develop their full potential because they are afraid they will not be able to accomplish their personal goals.
Fear of personal failure is undoubtedly one of the major inhibitors of human excellence. But I would like to suggest another equally powerful force that holds us back: a fear of excellence.
When we look at the full sweep of evolution, it becomes clear that we human beings are the last rung on the evolutionary ladder. This does not make us “superior” to other species; it is just that we are the only creature that has yet to be fully defined. Some people, who think in static terms, feel that human nature is “set in stone”, unchanging, fixed. For them, there is nothing yet to be said about what constitutes a human being.
The record, however, indicates otherwise. We human beings are growing in our capacities each year, each day even, to the point that, literally, only God knows what we can become.
Take the physical realm as an example. Each year, records are broken in sports that leave us dumbfounded. High school students now run as fast as world champions of a few decades ago. Recently, for example, a 50 year old man ran a marathon faster than the winner of the gold medal at the 1948 Olympics.
I met a high school girl recently who told me that she had just returned from a 12 mile run. When I was in high school, no girl- or boy- that I knew ever ran that far. In those days (only 50 years ago), there was not even a track team for the girls.
The facts indicate that we are running faster, jumping higher and further, lifting more weight, kicking and hitting balls further, swimming faster, and generally exceeding ourselves in every physical way possible..
hat we are doing physically is attributable to more than just better nutrition and better training. As George Leonard points out in The Silent Pulse, better nutrition and training have had no appreciable effect on the training of race horses and other animals. Only homo sapiens continues to exceed all predictable achievements.
Human mental breakthroughs are also staggering. Silicon chips and computer advances, artificial hearts, livers and joints, and physics and trigonometry for grammar school children all testify to the tremendous knowledge explosion that we are witnessing.
Is it any wonder? After all, the “guesstimate” is that we are using only ten percent of our brain power at this stage of our evolution.
Spiritual advances, too, are breathtaking. Individuals are awakening to the gifts of Christ -consciousness or Buddha awareness. We are quickly realizing that we have a divine nature as well as a physical and mental nature. Projections are being withdrawn from saints and mystics and we are coming to the realization that we are all incarnations of the divine.
This development of the human being is frightening to some. They wonder: where will it all end? What are our outermost limits and what sacrifices will we have to make to get there?
This fear of the unknown and fear of our potential translates to a fear of human excellence. Many, many people, probably most, settle for mediocrity because that is what they know; that is their comfort zone. But an old A teacher of mine once told me something that it would be good to keep in mind here: “comfort is the graveyard of the soul”.
Institutions of all sorts need mediocre people to keep them running. But those who nudge the evolutionary process along are the adventurers who allow themselves to soar with eagle’s wings. They do so not because they are fearless, but because they have transcended their fears, for God’s sake.
Next posting: Limits of the Mind
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