Imagine you are a sculptor. Not a painter. A sculptor. Now imagine someone asks you to paint a giant scene over 1,100 square metres - roughly one sixth of the size of a football pitch. The scale required will be massive, so it will be impossible for you to see what is developing as you paint. You are asked to paint this scene over another painting made by an old master, but are assured this will not be a problem because the person who owns this believes your painting will be better than the one already there. Remember, you are not even a painter, let alone a great painter. Leaving aside the ethics of destroying a valuable piece of art, and just thinking of the challenge before you, would you do it? Or would you react by saying "I am not a painter, I'm a sculptor! I cannot do this! Even if I manage to complete this mammoth task, what I paint won't even be as good as what I will be replacing!". Would you have as much faith in yourself as the man who has asked you to do this clearly has in you?
You may well know the story I am telling here. The painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City by Michaelangelo. At the time Pope Julius II commissioned this work Michaelangelo was not a painter but a sculptor. Yes, he was an artist, but of a very different kind. He had never before done anything like the work Julius was asking him to do. It wasn't even ordinary painting, but rather highly specialised fresco work on a curved surface high above the ground. But the Pope believed in him and so Michaelangelo also believed in himself, despite initial doubts and worries. When he was a third of the way through the job, Michaelangelo saw mould spreading over his work, spoiling the painting before it was anywhere near completion. So he had to stop what he was doing, remove the mould, and change the way he was painting so the mould did not reappear and destroy his work. If he had succumbed to his very natural initial self doubt we would now not have one of the most beautiful frescos in the world. Yes, he had doubts and worries. But, encouraged by the Pope who believed in him, he also had self belief and completed the task, taking nearly 5 years to do so.
If Michaelangelo had asked his friends whether he should attempt this impossible task, what do you think they would have advised? Probably not even to try!
Let's imagine something else. Imagine you were born without arms. But you have decided you would like to be a pilot. Impossible? You would think so, wouldn't you? Especially given the requirement to pass a pretty stringent assessment of your flying skills before you are given a pilot's licence. It might seem impossible, but if you have self belief you can do it. That is what Jessica Cox did. Jessica wanted to achieve her dream of flying. She believed in her ability to do so even though nobody without arms had ever learned to fly. All she had going for her was her self belief, but that was enough. Jessica became the first person in the world ever to gain a licence to fly.
If you had been born without arms and knew that nobody without arms had ever flown a plane, could you have dreamt of becoming a pilot and then done everything necessary to get your licence? Jessica did, because she had self belief. I can imagine her family and friends told her she was crazy. It would certainly have seemed that way. But Jessica never gave up, and now she flies planes using just her feet!
I want you to spend a few moments thinking about what you want to achieve in life. Don't worry whether or not it seems to be achievable. All that matters is that it is something you really want to achieve. Write it down. Not as something you want one day, but write it as though it is something you have already achieved.
You will probably now hear all the voices in your head telling you why you can never achieve it. But think about it for a moment. Is it really so much more difficult than having no arms, yet obtaining a pilot's licence - at a time when nobody else thought this was even possible? Believe in yourself just as Jessica Cox did and you can achieve your dream.
You will probably face obstacles along the way that you had never expected, even when you first thought about your dream and recognized how difficult it would be to achieve it. Michaelangelo knew he was attempting a near impossible task when he began painting the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, but he didn't also expect his painting would start going mouldy when he was only part way through. He didn't give up at that point, but simply found the right way to tackle this new obstacle. You must do the same.
Finally, having decided what it is you want to achieve, take the first step, then the next, and then the next. Don't simply sit there waiting for it to happen. It won't unless you take action! Having agreed to paint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo didn't just sit down and wait for the fresco to appear. He got on with it. Having decided she wanted a pilot's licence, Jessica Cox didn't sit there waiting for someone to give her one. She started doing all that was necessary for her to earn it. So must you. Start with self belief. Know you can achieve it. Then get on and do whatever is necessary for you to get there!