Here’s the scenario…I spoke for a University and the Dean really loved what I said. She wanted to bring me back to speak about another topic. The challenge for me was that it was not a topic that I am an expert in…or even a partial subject matter expert…it was a topic that you would generally find in my list of non-strengths…aka weaknesses. I farm that out as much as possible. So I explained the situation, she wasn’t thrilled and wanted me to wing it. I explained why that wouldn’t work, she wasn’t thrilled and wanted me to wing it. I offered to refer her to an expert, she wasn’t thrilled but she agreed. The truth is I knew my limitations and still ask myself-are they real or are they in my mind.
Many of our limitations are self-diagnosed. We think we can’t do something and therefore we can’t. Why try when you already know the outcome? There is your limitation. Now, in my case, the topic that I was referring to that I was asked to speak about was technology. Anyone that knows me knows that is not a topic I can wing and even if I sat down to learn every aspect, it isn’t something that I will ever be an expert in. So in my case, I’m not creating a limitation; it’s already a known reality. I’m acknowledging it and bringing in the reinforcements and that is the better way to look at limitations for me. I know my strengths, my weaknesses and my opportunities for growth.
Of course the point is that you need to recognize that limitations are not always negative. Think about having no limitations at all in life and in business. Is that positive? It could be and even having no limitations has limitations. It’s almost like a tongue twister…When you think of no limitations you start to believe that you can do anything. When someone doesn’t think what you’re doing is working, their reasons become your limitation and then that becomes a negative. Now, to turn that around, you will have to admit that you can’t do everything and be everything to everyone, so now you are creating reality and that is a positive…Whew! I hope you got that thought process because not sharing the pros and cons would have been a limitation for me.
So what are some of my limitations?
- I limit myself to working with my strategic triangle of speaking, coaching and training.
- I limit myself to working with my target market so my message is relevant
- I limit myself to the number of coaching clients I can support at one time
- I limit myself to the number of times I check my emails in the evening
- I limit myself to the type of people that I will collaborate with
These are just a few of the limitations I have put on myself and I see them as positive for me rather than negative handcuffs that I try to unlock. Many of our own limitations go as far back as growing up and hearing what you can do and can’t do. They may not be real many but to us, they are etched in our minds. The only way to overcome them is to identify what they are, how you can deal with them and what the ultimate outcome will be once they are uncovered.
The real question is why do we hold ourselves back? The main reason is fear:
What if I fail?
What if I embarrass myself?
What if I succeed and others become jealous?
What if I succeed and I’m a one-hit wonder and can’t continue it?
What if I find out I’m not as good as I thought?
The truth of the matter is that it isn’t what if I fail; it’s when will I fail and will you ever embarrass yourself, you will but it’s all part of the learning process. Will people be jealous of your success? Of course they will but those are part of your limitations as to who you want to do business with anyway. As far as not being as good as you thought or continuing your success? Think about this…you’ve worked hard to get where you are. You are respected by your colleagues and maybe even envied by your friends. You have a great reputation and are known for your integrity, honesty and intelligence plus a whole lot more…and yet, deep down inside you have that “feeling” that sometimes you are…for lack of a better term, a fraud. You are putting on a great front on the outside and inside you have that internal conflict…am I enough? This is something women everywhere struggle with. So your choice is this…either go through the motions and stop when you feel your limitations are so strong and your fear is so powerful and call it a day. Or go and face your fears, have realistic limitations and become as successful as you want to be. Either way, you will have limitations…just don’t make them more paralyzing than they need to be. Here are some ideas:
As I mentioned, you have to be aware of some of your limiting thoughts and beliefs. As you begin to identify them, write them down so you can see how to change your thought process.
What would happen if you chose to think about the possibilities that are in front of you? Start to dream and then dream bigger and bigger. There is no one that will stop you from dreaming. You need to see the possibilities all around you.
Now that you’ve started seeing your dreams, you need to take action to change those negative beliefs and turn them into positive possibilities. Challenge yourself to see past the limitations and start creating change.
You know the saying you are the sum total of the 5 people around you? Well, it’s time to change who you are hanging around with. Start surrounding yourself with others who are thinking the same way you are. Positivity creates positivity and that equals amazing outcomes.
Don’t stop learning. You are on a roll. You’ve taken the steps to get you on a positive track. Keep learning, keep growing and share your message along the way. If something brings you back to your old limits or perhaps you’ve adopted a new limitation, start with the first step and continue through the process…do not pass go or collect $200…just keep going.
Remember, you will never know your limits unless you push yourself to them.