According Merriam-Webster.com, the definition of a limit is "something that bounds, restrains, or confines”. When considering the definition of limit as a verb, it’s "to restrict the bounds or limits of". Today, I want to discuss self-imposed limits. What are the things we voluntarily assume that are limiting us in life and work? I’ll share a few things we can do to battle ourselves here on the View 112 Podcast.
How many L’s have you taken in life due to your own limitations? Self-imposted limitations come in the form of confining thoughts, beliefs, actions/inactions. With self-imposed limits, sometimes we fail because we don’t even start. We miss the full potential of an opportunity or situation because we don’t see the whole. We get some of what’s available, instead of all of it. What can we do to remove self-imposed limits?
Be First. I read a book, ‘Purposeful: Are You a Manager Or a Movement Starter’ by Jennifer Dulski. Jennifer is the Head of Groups and Community at Facebook and the Former President and COO at Change.org. In her book, Jennifer shares example after example of how ordinary people contribute incredible change in the world leading with purpose. There is a chapter in the book titled "Spark a Standing Ovation". Jennifer shares a concept we've all seen in action: a standing ovation. A gradual standing ovation begins when one person stands up and begins clapping, leading others. I've seen this at church and different programs a countless times. Even times when I’ve intend to stay seated, one person stands and claps, then a few more, and more, until eventually everyone, including me is standing and clapping. Of all the movement starters profiled by Jennifer, one thing commonality they share is being the first to stand and clap, metaphorically if you will. The idea of simply being first is a good discipline for me as I work to remove limits in my life because it gives me less time to contemplate failure. No time to contemplate failure, I’m already doing. In the same chapter there is a quote from Amy Poehler "The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing." The discipline of going first for me prevents analysis paralysis. Insecurity and then time constraints kick when when I take too long to decide. When I was younger playing spades, sometimes I'd over think my play and my uncle used to tease the warning, "You think long, you think wrong". In my role as a leader professionally, people look to me. Sometimes you have to be the first to leap to show it can be done and spark others to move too. I know its cliche to say it only takes one person to make a difference or one person to start a riot but it really is true. Find situations in your life in which you can advance progress by being first.
Stop Labeling. I am no longer interested in confining things to simply what I've seen done before. I've been practicing a lot professionally. We hire insanely smart people but then limit what we think they are capable of understanding or doing. I no longer underestimate what can be achieved based on a particular role an individual may have. Why limit people to roles instead of enhancing roles to the capability of the incredible people we hire? In an act to increase my expectations of people and results, I am removing the prejudgment of what can be accomplished. There have been times in my career, I've also decided that I'm not smart enough or have the credentials to apply for a particular position. Already limiting myself mentally in advance, just imagine the lack of accomplishment taking those limiting thoughts into a role. I’ve been guilty of labelling situations in my life too. Believe it our not, I still decide there are things I should not have or places I should not go. This is on my mind because I’ve been near shopping. A couple of years ago, I when I purchased my Jeep Cherokee, I first looked at an E class Mercedes coupe. The car had black on black interior and black leather interior with beautiful finishes, a super nice car. Sitting inside the car, I decided (and literally said out loud) this car is too nice for me. In fact, I felt a bit embarrassed sitting in the car. I created an image in my mind about the type of people who drive luxury cars. I don’t have friends or family who own luxury coupes. I’ve never even been in a car that expensive. So who do I think I am to drive a car this nice? I should have been focusing on the truth: I am me. I can afford this car and I like it a lot. That is enough. Instead, I got out of the car and left the dealership without so much as a test drive. I love my Jeep, but I think about that Mercedes all the time and why I didn't buy it instead. Pray for me on this step. I am a work in progress.
Create Options. Financial Planners always advise to diversify your financial portfolio because relying on one vehicle to acquire and grow money is too risky. Should that vehicle or source default, so does our wealth. Contrasty, when we have multiple sources and vehicles for our funds, the risk in losing it all in one shot is reduced. We should have such options in other aspects of our lives as well. While I am blessed to have a diverse savings portfolio, I really only have one main source of income. A question posed in the August 2018 edition of O Magazine, asked “What would you do if you quit your job?”. It’s a question that certainly got me questioning my true limitations. Due to my one source of income, if I quit my job today (Disclaimer: Not going to), I would most certainly be looking for another! Seriously though, the question got me thinking about else could I be doing and how can I monetize it. Everyday I am thinking about what I could be doing to build for myself and my future. Options are not just about money, but experience as well. I've shared a lot about the value of being a life long learner. The value of personal development cannot be stressed enough. I was purposeful in using the word "create" when talking about options. We can remove limits by deciding to learn new skills. These skills can be beneficial for a variety of different ways to improve our quality of life. You know the saying, "when you know better, you do better". I learned another lesson about options and diversification while listening to the Myleik Teele Podcast. Myleik was interviewing Claire Sulmers of Fashion Bomb Daily. Claire shared Instagram deactivated her account (which had millions of followers) and how she’s reconnecting with that audience on other platforms. The sudden deactivation taught her a lesson around ownership of her platform and work. It never occurred to me how someone could lose their business like that in an instant. Thankfully her page has been since restored. I’ve heard Claire on more recent interviews and it appears the reactivation of the page connecting her back with her large audience did not come without much time and money. Think of how many companies build their entire platform solely on the strength of social media. As a writer wanting to help others grow and monetize my work, I will need to focus on various platforms for connecting and also put more into my own site view112.com. I cannot be limited to few or outdated ways of connecting my art to my audience.
Drop Timelines. We are our worst enemy when it comes to limiting our successes in life to timelines. You know what I’m talking about, accomplishing this…by that age, or confining milestones to a calendar timeline. Just because some or even most people accomplish things in a particular time doesn’t mean your accomplishments are any less. With my current employer, I’ve earned 3 promotions in 6 years. 3 months before my first promotion, I thought about looking for another job because an external candidate was selected the first time I went after a position. I shared my intentions with one of my girlfriends and she didn't hold back in telling me how impatient and stupid I sounded. At the start of 2017, I confided in a friend, I’d feel like a failure if the whole year went by and I didn’t get this next promotion. It would be time to look for another job as I’d been in my role for over 2 years. There is no mandate of how long people take to move from one position to the next and on average I’m sure the time is more like 3-5 years for the promotion I was after. As you can imagine, yet another friend pointed out my stupidity. I love my career and the work I do, especially now and if I would have let a simple date on the calendar drive my happiness, I’d be without this incredible experience. I have to think about this as it comes to my writing. The late Maya Angelou’s autobiography, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ was her first published work and it happened when she was 41 years old. Same age as me.
There has not been a failure, I have yet to survive. Not a single one. Failure is hard, but not impossible to push past. Think of how liberating it is to approach each day, moment, or opportunity like you cannot fail. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?