No, you can’t do anything you set out to do, but…

One of the lies that people like to tell kids is “you can do anything you want to, if you really set your mind to it.” This is patently absurd. You can’t flap your arms and fly like a bird – believe me, I really wanted to do that. You can’t look at someone you don’t like and make them catch fire. You can’t make the Earth spin backwards and reverse time. (That’s a good thing, in my book.) This knowledge of your own limits may be depressing, to be sure. But think about it — the set of all possible actions is so incredibly large and dazzling that you should thank the Lord for keeping it from becoming infinite.

Here is the thing that kids should be told, over and over — you can do far more than you think you can. If you do find something you really want to do and that looks like it might be possible, understand that it probably won’t be easy. I am ashamed at the occasions when I have declined to attempt something difficult out of simple fear or discouragement, and yet I have managed to amaze myself time and time again by the things that I did accomplish. Give it a shot and don’t be discouraged by initial failure – that’s the real secret. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

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