Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

What keeps you from reaching your goals? It’s NOT your circumstances.

I always wanted to be 6’6”. Growing up in a basketball family, tall was the best thing you could be. I just knew that if I could make it to that height I would get a scholarship from Duke and play in the NBA. It was a lock.

Well, I stopped growing two inches short. By all accounts, I am tall—just not tall enough.

I played basketball throughout high school. However, my career ended when I chose an academic path to college rather than an athletic one. Still, sometimes, I think: If I had only been a little taller.

Copyright Boston Public Library (Creative Commons)

Copyright Boston Public Library (Creative Commons)

The irony is that some 6’2” kid somewhere is saying to himself, “If only I was two inches taller . . .” There seems to be no circumstances that completely satisfy.

“If I were taller I could . . .”
“If I were shorter I could . . .”
“If I were richer I could . . .”
“If I were more connected I could . . .”
“If I prettier I could . . .”
“If I didn’t have this burden I could . . .”
“If I had that talent I could . . .”

We are rarely satisfied with our circumstances. We often see our circumstances as the greatest obstacle in our life. They aren’t.

The Endless Excuse

The rich complain about the burden of their wealth, while the poor long for it. The tall teenager longs to be shorter, while her classmates look up at her jealously. The touring musician wishes for the stability of a businessman, while the businessman dreams of hitting the road with his guitar.

There is no situation so perfect that we cannot find some reason to be dissatisfied. (you can tweet that)

This results in an endless supply of excuses.

I would write that book if only . . .
I would spend more time with my children if only . . .
I would give more money away if only . . .
I would pack up and move if only . . .
I would take up the challenge if only . . .

We are infected with the “if-only syndrome.” It is fatal. It produces an endless stream of excuses and insures we never grow or change.

What if we just accepted our circumstances and made the most of them?

Meet Nik Vujicic

At eight years old, Nik was clinically depressed. Two years later, he almost committed suicide. His circumstances were so overwhelming, he saw no other way out. Now, at 30, he is a motivational speaker who travels the world with a message of hope.

“The challenges in our lives are there to strengthen our convictions. They are not there to run us over.” – Nik Vujicic

Nik was born without any arms or legs (a rare disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome). At first he struggled to integrate into the mainstream population of his elementary school. Kids made fun of him. Then, something changed. He realized that by overcoming his disabilities he could inspire others. His horrible circumstances became an opportunity.

Once he mastered the basics of life—brushing his teeth, combing his hair, writing, typing, feeding himself—he moved on to other adventures. He has surfed, starred in an award-winning short film, spoken to over 3 million people in 24 countries, published books, and started a non-profit organization.

Last year he married his fiancée and they are expecting their first child.

Nik’s perspective now: “There is not a time in my life that I wish I was born with my arms and legs. I see it not as a disability, but as a gift, and now I am free to use it.”


If Circumstances are not the Problem

What if Nik is right? What if our circumstances aren’t the problem?

What if you are tall enough, pretty enough, rich enough, talented enough, unburdened enough to do whatever you should do right now?

What if, instead of hindering you from a life of purpose and meaning, your circumstances are showing you the path you should take?

It would mean that nothing is keeping you from reaching your goals except for you. And that nasty thing called resistance that we will talk about soon.

What are your circumstances telling you? Let me know in the comments below.


Last Post: What keeps you from reaching your goals? It’s NOT people.

Next up: What keeps you from reaching your goals? It’s NOT your time.

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  • Great post, Josh. Reminds me of the song “Once and Future Carpenter” by the Avett Bros. (you would love them, if you haven’t discovered them already):

    “And when the black cloak drags upon the ground, I’ll be ready to surrender and remember that we’re all in this together. If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be afraid to die.”

    This echoes clearly 1 Corinthians 7:17, perhaps the clearest teaching on calling in Scripture. To often we pine for a different life (i.e. different circumstances), thinking falsely that then we could really achieve something, when really success, i.e. the good life, is about doing the most with what we’ve been given. Clearly something that Nik epitomizes.

    Keep up the good work! Miss you!

    • Josh

      Thanks for the encouragement. I do partake in the Avett Brothers regularly. Good stuff.

      Hope your family is doing well!

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  • Josh,

    Great post!

    This reminds me of the song by Hello Industry, “Ugly,” talking about what if you really are fine the way you are.

    • Josh

      Thanks for the reference. I’ll check it out.