During the holidays I actually had the time to read a fascinating book. It was a motivational way to start the New Year. Kody Bateman’s powerful book, Promptings: Your Inner Guide to Making a Difference, takes the reader on a heartfelt journey action-packed with stories that teach you important life lessons. Here is an example: Kody has a black lab named Gus. As with most labs, Gus likes to play fetch. Kody loves to walk in the backyard after work bouncing a tennis ball. As soon as Gus notices the ball he goes crazy.

Gus looks at Kody with his happy eyes, furiously wags his tail and impatiently waits for the fun to begin. When Kody throws the ball, Gus takes off on a dead run and snatches it in his mouth as fast as he can. He always runs right back to Kody with the prize. When he gets back to Kody, he doesn’t let go of that ball. He usually has to pry it out of his mouth. After a toss or two, the ball has usually been slobbered all over and covered in dirt. After several throws, the ball is grimy, slobbery and dirty…but Gus doesn’t seem to care. He will snatch the ball up in his mouth and come running back to Kody for more.

By this time in the game Kody likes to bring out another shiny new tennis ball. Gus will come back with the old grimy ball in his mouth and see that Kody has a new one. He is so excited at the possibility of getting his jaws around the new ball. As Kody bounces it in front of him, Gus watches, while still keeping a tight grip on the old grimy ball in his mouth. When Kody finally throws the new ball out in the yard, Gus will run out to it as fast as he can. But when he gets to the ball he stops, looks down at the new ball, looks back at Kody, looks back down at the new ball, and wonders what to do. You see, Gus refuses to let go of the old tennis ball, so he can’t figure out how to pick up the new one. In his confusion, he will lie down next to the new ball – and the game will be over.

Now before you start calling Gus crazy or dumb, Kody challenges us to analyze our own lives. How often do we see opportunities come our way, get excited about those opportunities, but find ourselves unable to take advantage because we have some old tennis ball — or an old, limiting belief — we are hanging onto?

What are some of the old tennis balls keeping you from living your full potential?