I read an article back in December by Derek Sivers titled "There's no speed limit (The lessons that changed my life.)" In the article Derek describes the music lessons he received from musician Kimo Williams. Williams taught Derek two years Berkley School of Music coursework in theory and arranging in only a few lessons. Derek then went on to test out of 6 semesters of required classes and graduated in two and a half years.
I love reading inspirational stories but I think this one had an especially acute effect on me. Williams motto was that "there's no speed limit" in terms of what you can learn and how fast you can learn it. The only limit is your own expectations and your willingness to work hard. This got me thinking about all the different artificial limits that we are conditioned to accept as we grow up. Each year in school you are supposed to learn a certain amount of information that the higher-ups have deemed adequate for your grade. Each year you move up a grade and the level of what you learn raises a little bit more. Sure, some people go a little bit above that expected limit or some don't quite reach that benchmark but by and large, there is a limit to what you are expected to do.
I wonder how many of us still operate with a similar limitation once we leave the organized school system? I've always been a pretty bright guy but for some reason I've never really sat down and challenged myself to the extent that Derek did during his lessons with Kimo Wiliams. There shouldn't be anything holding me back. Between libraries and the amazing possibilities that the internet opens I have access to almost any information I could possibly want. The only thing that is preventing me from doing something with all that information is my own expectations for myself.
From now on I'm going to try to remember that there's no speed limit. I can learn as much as I want and as quickly as I can handle it. I don't have to wait to move up to the next "grade," buy the next volume, or wait for anybody else around me. My own development is going to be set by my own expectations which, from now on, are going to be very high. If I don't set my expectations for myself at an adequate level, there is nobody else that will. It's up to me.
How high are your expectations? Are you meeting them?