Sunday Dec 11, 2005

The Jonah Complex

One day, Abraham Maslow, who was a professor at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1969, asked his students: “Which of you expects to achieve greatness in your chosen field?”

A class of blank stares filled the room.

After a long silence, Maslow said: “If not you—who then?”

Slowly, his students began to grasp his point, which he called the Jonah complex—the tendency in adults to doubt and even fear their own abilities.

Maslow wrote: “We fear our highest possibilities (as well as our lowest ones). We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under conditions of greatest courage.

We enjoy and even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear for these very same possibilities.”

Remember, many are called; few choose to go.»

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