A little over a week ago I met an incredibly inspiring Hiphop artist aptly named Limitness. Born Shayne Smith, Limitless had travelled 19 hours by car from Toronto, Canada to attend the A3C Hiphop Conference and Festival in Atlanta. The arduous journey Limitless traversed to arrive at A3C paled in comparison to other challenges he had faced in his life. At four months old, he contracted meningitis, leading to amputations of his legs, an arm, and fingers. He barely escaped with his life. Shortly after he fell ill, his father left his mother. He tells me his childhood was no crystal stair, and I struggle to imagine the epic adversity he faced as a mobility-challenged young person from a struggling family in this judgmental world. Yet, despite everything Limitless experienced and the practical challenges he faces each day, he is the single most positive person I have ever met. His energy was infectious, and his message, though simply worded, hit me like an epiphany: Live life with no limits.
Here is my interview with Limitless for ATLHIPhop.com:
Live life with no limits! Fittingly, my chance connection with Shayne occurred during a time when I am actually dipping my toe in the pool of limitless living. I had never referred to it as such, but I ended up meeting Shayne while serving as a media correspondent for a music website covering A3C. I accepted the engagement on a whim. I have no experience in media, so I had serious reservations. What if I embarrassed myself? Would others wonder if I had left my lucrative legal practice to chase a spacey dream of fame or perceive me as a hopeless groupie or inarticulate dilettante on camera. Despite my fears, I decided to go ahead with this assignment (which I endearingly referred to it as an experiment) because I thought it could be interesting. Life's limits could have stepped in and said "No Ashley, that's too far out of your comfort zone." Thankfully, my courageous courage helped me tell life's limits to kick rocks.
The #NoLimit Lifestyle I embraced connected me with a person who forever changed my perspective on my life and embedded an already flourishing seed of inspiration and motivation in my heart. Here is how you can incorporate the #NoLimit Lifestyle into your own life so that you can live a more abundant life and meet awesome people like Limitless who will encourage you along your own journey.
1) Identify False Limitations
The first step to living a Limitless life is to catch the sneaky false limitations before they become set into your mind as immutable facts. Limitless could have easily embraced many social conventions which told him that his life must be lived within the narrow confines of depression, hospital rooms, and loneliness, but he knew that his amputee status did not necessitate those limitations. Likewise, I almost submitted to self-conceived limitations about how others would perceive me and how competent I could be in this new endeavor.
It is important to carefully scrutinize any limitation, fear, or challenge that is a barrier to you living a more interesting, worldly, or evolving life. What universal law requires you to do anything that is not enriching you (and vice versa)? What are the serious ramifications you face if a life experiment goes wrong? Who is society (or even your friends and family) to tell you to play things safe? Identify all of the limitations that stand in the way of the pursuance of the life you envision and toss them aside unless they really are incontrovertible- few are.
People who can identify false limits are inherently more interesting people because they see the world from a different perspective than the status quo. Interesting people make friends easily because we are all drawn to people who think differently. What's more, by living an unconventional life, you put yourself in a position to be in the right places to meet other awesome people who live life on their own authentic terms.
2) Dance With Fear
I have always had a love/hate relationship with fear. I hated it because I felt that it kept me from doing things I suspected I might benefit from or enjoy, but I loved because it kept me safe. What a dysfunctional love! The safety of fear frequently comes at a grave expense- not doing any cool stuff! Fear was originally designed as a narrow instinct to keep us alive. Yet somewhere along the human evolutionary path, fear became a mental prison all unto itself. We became afraid to do things that have very little appreciative physical danger because of irrational fears. We embrace these mental handcuffs metered out by social custom, imagined responsibilities, and our own insecurities not because we have to, but because we are in the grips of an overarching fear: the fear of being our authentic selves.
I have found that the most breakthrough moments in my life have come when I have danced with fear instead of kowtowing to it. Being a solo female traveller, staying up late to finish a book despite my parents' demands, cutting off all of my hair, and starting this blog were all things I feared. In each case, facing my fear was an opportunity for me to fortify my courage, conviction in myself, and awareness of the real world, not the false projection most dwell in. I imagine that Limitless could have wondered if he would be embraced or ostracized at A3C. I mean, not only is he an amputee, but he has a very distinctive Canadian accent, and he's not Drake! Moreover, he only recently started making Hiphop music, making him a neophyte at the event among many established artists and a few legends. Thankfully he chose to dance with his fears and make the trip to A3C. In the process, he connected with people he would have never met at home and soaked up game from some of the most motivational people in Hiphop.
3) Approach Everything with Passion
Once you determine to do something, you must do it with passion. Any other approach is just a waste of your time, and you might as well stay in bed. Approaching endeavors with passion is critical for two reasons: a) it gets you in the mind state to accomplish something exceptional and b) it sets you apart from everyone else. It is the opposite of a Limitless lifestyle to do things begrudgingly or to toil through experiences with an attitude. A crappy attitude is more than a buzz kiill, it actually sends a message to your brain to expect a negative outcome. That signal is then picked up by the universe as instructions to bring the wack reality to life. Alternatively, if you bring passionate, optimistic, energy to your endeavors the converse is true, and things end up much more likely to be full of positive surprises.
I committed myself to being a shining light of positivity to everyine at the festival, and it paid off. Many times interview subjects told me my energy was palpable, and my enthusiasm and sincere interest in the stories of everyone I spoke with translated well on camera. Likewise, Limitless could have been a wall flower at the conference, but his passion for Hiphop made his presence felt. He was one of only two people to ask a question at a keynote address by acclaimed Hiphop artist Jeezy and social commentator Marc Lamont Hill. In fact he ended up in the interview room, which was not generally accessible, through hustle and stick-to-itness. Limitless wouldn't take no for an answer. When you allow your passion to reign and you put yourself in a position to take distinctive action, God and mere mortals alike take favorable notice.
4) Turn on your Awesome Radar
Be on the lookout for awesome opportunities, or else they will pass you by. Far too many people take the effort to position themselves in the right place, with the right people, and then they put on blinders which keep them from experiencing the awesome stuff that is the lynchpin of the #NoLimit Lifestyle. What if I had ignored Limitless in favor of one of the plethora of rappers with telltale signs of illusory Hiphop success - multiple gold chains and an imposing entourage?
In order to meet the most interesting (awesome) people in a room, you have to thoughtfully assess who will have the most compelling stories, useful information, or innovative worldview. It may be reflexive to stalk the most important person in the room, but far too often I have found that the most obviously affluent or popular person is boring and/or aloof. A fine-tuned awesome radar will identify #NoLimit Lifestyle adherents in the room by their unique style, welcoming mannerisms, and commanding but empathetic presence.
5) Excel at Connecting
Though I am ashamed to admit it, I was previously very afraid of touching people with obvious physical abnormalities. I sensed speaking with Limitless would be an inspiring experience, but when it was time to conduct the pre-interview chat, I almost froze. He reached out for a handshake with a limb that was missing fingers. Thankfully, I did not freeze, I connected. The simple embrace signaled to Limitless that I was good people, and we were golden from then on.
Listening and making eye contact are two other keys to making the type of transformative connections involved in a #NoLimit lifestyle. You have to have a dynamic focus on others to really connect with them; it can't be all about you. The ego is another powerful limitation we all wrestle with. Actively seek out others to connect with and then go the extra mile to commune with their spirit if you want to live a truly authentic life.
6) Go All the Way
The final element of living a limitless life is to go all the way with your endeavors, to rise to the occasion. I had connected with Limitless, but it would have been for naught if I did not conduct a compelling interview with him. Moreover, after the interview, I immediately began telling everyone I can about his inspirational story. I wrote this blog to spread the gospel of the #NoLimit lifestyle even more. Do amazing things, don't be bashful about sharing them with others, and encourage everyone in your network to do the same. You will attract other kindred spirits to your life, and start a Good Vibe Tribe. That is how you go all the way with the #NoLimit Lifestyle. Don't speak about it, be about it! If you are about it, shout it! When you know how, share in the wows!
I'd love to hear how you overcome mental limitations in your daily life. Please tweet me @aplusashley with the hashtag #NoLimit.
Soundtrack to this post:
(I had to interject some humor in this post LOL)
Fall Down the Rabbit Hole:
Watch this documentary on Limitless and see the video for his single.
Read this blog on living without limitations.
Check out this discussion of limitations facing biblical features.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Please share it with your loved ones!