Breaking Through the Shell of Restricted Thinking

By Chris Prentiss in Intention on February 7th, 2009 / No Comments

I was waiting at a small airport many years ago, when I struck up a conversation with one of the airport workers, a young man of about twenty. During our talk he found out I had a private pilot’s license, and he said that he would love to get his pilot’s license. I asked him why he was waiting.

“It’s too expensive,” he said. “As soon as I found out how much the lessons cost, I gave up the idea.”
“There’s opportunity all around you,” I responded energetically. “You work at an airport! Talk to the owners of the planes, talk to the pilots, talk to the crew members, find out if there’s something you can do in exchange for lessons. When you decide you can’t do it, it’s over. You can just as easily decide to do it and, in time, you’ll have your pilot’s license!”

He shrugged his shoulders, looked at me as if I were a little strange, and said, “Nope, I don’t think so. It’s too expensive.  When I heard how much it cost, I just turned away from it.”

“But you’re turning away from life, from yourself, from opportunity, and you’re acting as if you’re powerless! Are you powerless?”

He shrugged his shoulders, laughed a little, looked at me again as if I were strange, and walked away.

This young man was faced with the same two choices we are all faced with at varying times in our lives. You can either take positive action to bring about what you want or you can shrug your shoulders and walk away.

Your success or failure is foretold by your actions, by what you believe.  For a limitation to be valid, you must accept it. If you’ve lived your life believing that having what you want is limited, your actions have been based on that belief and you have produced results consistent with your belief. Your belief was then reinforced by the reality you created.

It is important that you fully understand what it means to “produce results consistent with your belief.” If you believe you can do something, you will act based on that belief. If you believe something is impossible to do, you will fail to even begin. Your action or inaction will bring about results consistent with what you decide.

Many years ago, I was training a small group of salespeople about how to outgrow restricted thinking.  One of them, Walter, took to the teaching immediately.  During the training, the following incident occurred, and it gave him an opportunity to put what he was learning into action.

Another member of the sales team, James, had listed a house for sale. The house was in a very rough part of town, where several tough gangs regularly vandalized houses. So to protect the house until the escrow closed, the company hired a night watchman to look after the property.  The very first night, one of the gangs beat up the night watchman and vandalized the house with a lot of graffiti.  The next morning, when the salesmen heard about it, James said, “Well, that’s the end of that sale. The buyer will never buy the house now.”

“That’s what you think!” said Walter. “Do you mind if I call your seller?” James agreed.  Walter picked up the phone and called the seller and told him what had happened. He told the seller that unless he could get a price reduction, the sale would be lost. The seller agreed to a five-thousand-dollar price reduction.

Walter then called the buyer and said, “I have some great news for you!” He told the buyer what had transpired the night before and then said, “And I used that incident to get you a five-thousand-dollar price reduction!” The buyer, who knew it was a rough neighborhood, was delighted and thanked the quick-thinking salesman profusely.

One of those men saw the incident as a piece of bad luck that would ruin his sale, and the other saw it as an opportunity to make the sale more firm. One used the event to envision failure, and the other used it to envision success.

Walter used a Universal principle – the one that says that how we respond to an event determines its outcome – and he used it perfectly to ensure success. That day he was only using it so he and his friend could make a sale, but I knew he would go on to use the same principle in a much bigger arena, perhaps to purchase the house that everyone says is not for sale or to invent a new machine that everyone says cannot be invented.

That attitude, that “inner knowing,” when fully developed, will be “what’s true for Walter,” and it will carry him to the fulfillment of his dreams and a wonderfully satisfying life, having things the way he wants them.

About the author:
Chris Prentiss is the author of the book Be Who You Want, Have What You Want: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.  He is also the founder and co-director, with his son Pax, of the world famous Passages Addiction Cure Center in Malibu, California.  And he is the author of the popular The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure: A Holistic Approach to Total Recovery and Zen and the Art of Happiness.  For more info about his books visit:

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