If we did all the things we are capable of we would astound ourselves - Thomas Edison

Astounding Capability


“If we did all the things we’re capable of, we would literally be astounded.” – Thomas Edison

Capability is about how much we can produce and how well we can perform, and these levels of proficiency are a direct result of the amount of Competence and Fitness we possess in an area of our life:

  • Competence is about knowing how to do something, and it consists of the knowledge and skills required to complete a task. We become more Competent through teaching, mentoring, coaching, and practice accompanied by self-reflection.
  • Fitness is about being able to do something, and something that we must understand is that it’s much, much more than just being physically capable. It also includes mental clarity and confidence and emotional and spiritual stability.

(I’ll write more on Competence, and Fitness in the future, because they are principles in my Purpose & Principle-Driven Operational Success Model – something that I have put on developmental hold to write these Post-It Notes)

The simple fact is that we are Capable of doing far more than we believe. This is why I have spent my life taking on challenges – to prove to myself that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to.

My Girls, you know many of the things I’ve taken on, but let’s do a review (not for my glory, but for your inspiration – “If he could do it surely I can do it”):

  • Joining the Marines: At the age of 17 I wanted to prove myself physically. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the physical requirements of The Corps are much less strenuous than the mental and emotional demands that come with extreme self-discipline and courage. I wasn’t the best Marine out there, but I survived and thrived for seven years in the infantry (three of which I was an instructor at the School of Infantry). I often completed the challenges before me by remembering that millions had successfully done what I’m about to do; therefore, I can do it too.
  • College Education: Given my childhood and changing schools every 2-3 years, I wasn’t a very intelligent kid… I couldn’t read well (I have a form of dyslexia, but no one knew anything about that back in the 1970’s), and I was terrible at math. So, I took on the college challenge, attending at night, while I was still in the Marines – to prove to myself that I was as smart as anyone else, and I earned a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science in two years. Then I spent a decade earning MBA and Master of Education degrees, and I also completed all the required work for a Ph.D. in Education, but I never completed the dissertation. Although I learned how to think critically and communicate, these years are best summed up in, “Education is a better indicator of perseverance than intelligence.”
  • Endurance Athletics: I’ve completed countless endurance races to prove that I can persevere and overcome running races up to 100 km (62.2 miles), learning much about life in these challenges, and I hope to complete an Ironman Triathlon and a 100-mile ultra-marathon before I’m 50.

Now, you need to understand something… I was never the best at any of these… If I had set the bar at being better than everyone else, then I wouldn’t have attempted any of them, and I think that’s why so many people go to their graves in disappointment, living life afraid to take up the challenges and opportunities before them, because of the Fear of Failure.

My Girls, your challenges in life should be about you becoming the best you can be… about you becoming the woman that God has Called you to be. Your days should never be about attempting to prove that you’re better than someone else. Always remember that your race is against yourself – not others, even when in competition against others, your challenge is performing to the best of your capability, and in doing so being astounded at the result. I Hope and Pray that each of you will live a life of challenge and accomplishment so that you will not find regret at the end of your days.

Challenge Question: What capability will you exercise TODAY?

God’s Word: Philippians 4:13, 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10, and Hebrews 11

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