One of the keys to achieving your life’s dreams is to act like a thermos and not like a thermometer.
Let me explain.
Rabbi Moshe Gans explains in his book Success! that the world can be divided into 2 groups of people. There are people who act like a thermometer and there are people who act like a thermos.
The people who belong to the group of thermometers allow society to dictate their future.
If “everyone” says it is impossible to do, then it must be true. Their lives reflect the public’s opinion and accepted ideas just like a thermometer reflects the temperature in its environment.
However, it is far more conducive to be apart from the second group and live like a thermos.
A thermos controls the temperature and does not allow the external environment to change the temperature. The people who belong to this group do not allow beliefs of others or society to determine their destiny. They put some control in their lives and challenge the accepted belief to see if it is indeed a reality.
Roger Banister is an example of a person who acted like a thermos. In 1954 Roger Banister broke the record for running a mile in less than 4 minutes. For nine years no one had been able to break that record. Psychologists at the time, theorized that the reason for that was because it was physiologically impossible for the human body to run a mile in less than four minutes. Therefore they explain that is why no one has been able to break the record because it is physically impossible for the human body.
What is interesting to note is that 46 days after Roger Banister set the new record a man by the name of John Landy ran the mile in 3 minutes and 57 seconds and broke his record.
For nine years no one was able to break the record and now a month and a half later John Landy set the new record for running the mile. What happened?
Roger Banister shattered the limiting belief that it was impossible. Once that negative belief was shown to be false other athletes attempted the feat as well.
Often, what holds us back from developing our potential is our adopted limiting beliefs. The only way to achieve greatness is by replacing them with the Torah perspective to think broadly.
It says in the (Tanna D’Vei Eliyahu 25) that a person is obligated to ask oneself “When will my deeds reach those of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov?” The question is not will but rather when. A Jew needs to live with the mindsight that I have the ability to reach greatness like my forefathers. It is not a question of will I achieve greatness but when rather when will I achieve that.
Miriam Brodersen is a writer and teacher at several seminaries in Jerusalem, Israel.