You may not know it, but there was a fourth member of the Motown group, The Supremes.
It was my mom.
At least that’s what she told me when I was a kid. Before putting me to bed, she would tell me stories of her experiences on the road with Diana Ross and the other girls.
To this day, I’m almost sure that it was true, even though I also know it wasn’t.
What a wonderful way to imagine your momma. Strong and beautiful. Admired and loved by all. Not only did it allow me to see her possibilities, but I think it gave her the chance to do the same.
Sometimes it is at the point when you are at your lowest that you have to take a hold of moments like those. You have to imagine yourself back at a time when you could do anything. Or you imagine yourself in the future, being unstoppable; having it all. You can taste it, smell it, feel it. That reflection can sometimes be all you need to pull through the times when you feel so not-that-way.
That is what growing up is all about. Recall the “terrible two’s”. You might have been “Super Kid” screaming, “here I am to save the day!” All of this with a baby blanket secured by a chip-clip around your neck.
No doubt about it, you were untouchable. Of course you had to turn off the lights by yourself, or serve up your own noodles, or put on your own shoes (even if they were on the wrong feet). It only makes sense that if you saved Daisy the Duck from the destruction of Bob the Dinosaur, then surely you can put your coat on by yourself.
And who am I to judge.
Imagining ourselves in these moments is what makes the next steps possible. From our “Super Kid” adventures we are ready to face the perils of falling into the toilet while mastering potty training, or bravely surviving the terror of our first day of school.
Each reflection and experience of success, whether imagined or real is what gives us the confidence to believe in ourselves. Some things that seem impossible and unthinkable, suddenly become not only possible but essential to getting to what is waiting for us.
We all worry that we can’t handle what is before us. But the same thing that makes us capable of success is also what dooms us to fail. The same way that we imagine reaching the highest mountain, is also how we imagine our own demise.
I remember a professor back in college (go Hokies!) that challenged us to observe every step we took walking from our class to our dorm rooms. It was remarkable. The same steps that I took everyday became cumbersome and difficult. I ended up second guessing my steps as I approached each curb, unsure if I could hit the step just right without tripping over my feet.
I think the point was to break free from the expectations of what was to come. We were more likely to experience success if we allowed our feet to lead us rather than the other way around.
In so many ways the same applies here. In order to get where we are trying to go, we have to let go of what we imagine from the past, and what we expect for the future and trust that we’ve been here before. All we have to do is believe in ourselves.
One step at a time. The rest will take care of itself.