Original question from Quora:

What are some important, but uncomfortable truths that many people learn when transitioning into adulthood?

My Answer:

There is a powerful truth that most people don’t realize, even after they get to adulthood and it keeps them from achieving their fullest potential.

There is one limit that will hold you back and when you overcome it anything is possible…

It’s easier to explain with a story.

When I was younger I wanted to start a company building websites. I had a cool website building tool (this was pre-WordPress by a few years) and it was going to be the best thing ever.

I wanted to charge like $250 or $500 for a website, because at that time it seemed like a lot of money.

Then, in a business class a speaker came in and explained his website building business. The way he explained it made me realize that there was no way for a little guy like me to compete.

Also at $250 per website, I’d have to sell a lot of websites and I had no idea how to do that.

I gave up the business and I got a real job.

At my real job my company built websites and repaired computers. They charged thousands of dollars for a website. Some were like $10,000.

You don’t have to sell many websites to make that money work. I was sort of floored, but I was getting paid not a lot of money and the job sucked. Eventually I found a better job that paid better, had good benefits, and so on.

It was a lot better and our team was working on a grant project that was worth like $5 million over a period of years. It was a pretty big deal.

My next job after that was building an even larger website project where the client was paying millions a year to build their web application and site.

I’ve since worked for ecommerce and other websites that are worth even more.

Here I am like 12 years later realizing that a website can cost millions and millions of dollars to build and maintain and grow.

That’s a lot more than $250. It’s also a lot more than the $8/month Weebly or Squarespace website deal.

If I had known how valuable a website can be to the right person or company, I would have attacked that business in a completely different way. I might be doing that business right now and could be making millions.

But here is what held me back:

I believed $250 was a lot to spend for a website.

In some cases that is true, but most of the time it’s flat wrong.

That belief limited me for years and years in business. By the way, the belief has little to do with money and a lot to do with what we believe is possible.

What we see and experience influences what we believe is possible. If we aren’t exposed to exciting new possibilities, we assume our experience is the only experience that is true.

In fact, our experience is so limited that the beliefs we build from it are often putting us in a tiny, vanishingly small box of possibility.

The real box of possibility for us is so large you can’t fathom it. It’s like the difference between a box you’d put a wedding ring into compared to a refrigerator box. We live our lives as adults in the tiny wedding ring box, but the world gives us something like a refrigerator box to play in.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

I think the real box of possibilities is far larger and that by naming something we can understand like a refrigerator box or shipping container helps illustrate the point, it limits our imagination.

So, consider the box of possibilities for you to be the entire universe, and know that is probably too small a box.

Most kids have some grasp of this idea and most adults do their best to stamp it out. As an adult I learned it should be the other way around.

-Brian

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