My call to action this month is to rise above limitations. In my last “Personal Note,” I discussed taking action to achieve desired goals. However, one reason for inaction is an acknowledgement of limitation. While actual limitations do exist, most limitations are simply perceived. Remember the saying “where there is a will, there is a way?” So true. Just look at some of history’s great innovators: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Alexander Fleming, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Leonard Da Vinci…and the list goes on. They took a human limitation and flipped it on its head to discover creative ways to overcome it and create masterful inventions that have revolutionized our lives. They also ignored the critics like Commissioner of US patent office, Charles H. Duell, who famously proclaimed in 1899 that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” Just think of how our world would be so drastically different if those leading minds listened to naysayers like Duell? Whether his quote is accurate or just apocryphal, the point is that thinking of yourself as less than capable is assuming imminent failure and thwarts your ability to succeed.
Effective leaders closely examine their beliefs, decide which ones serve them, and eliminate the ones that do not. In other words, turn a limit into an empowering question: “I can’t do this” turns into “how can I do this?” Try it out. List a perceived challenge, limitation, or disadvantage and then separately list an associated advantage. For example, I want to be successful in business while also being an active parent. Some might say it is not possible to be both due to human limits on time and energy. However, by focusing on the how, I developed more efficient work habits and processes that allowed me to accomplish more than I did when my wife and I didn’t have any kids. My advantage on my time and energy limitation was that it forced me to identify and cut-out wasteful and inefficient activities and habits so that I could get more done and have time to be present with my family. Following this exercise allows you to tap into your inborn creativity and buy into the possibility of achievement. There is always a way when you are committed.
However, no man (or woman) is an island. We cannot be expected to achieve great things all by ourselves. Most times it is a group effort, whether in resources or simply support. However, be careful of the group with whom you associate. As Pat Petrini outlines in his book “The Miracle Morning for Network Marketers,” people are susceptible to a social pressure he calls the crab mentality. Theoretically, a single crab in a bucket will seek an opportunity to escape. However, if multiple crabs are in that same bucket, the one trying to escape will be pulled back in by the others. I don’t know if crabs actually do this, but humans certainly do.
The lesson is don’t let people slow you down or buy into their social pressure of failure. Also, be intentional with your team of supporters. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn’s says, “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” Believe in yourself and what you can be and surround yourself with a team that believes in you, too. More often than not you will find yourself escaping your bucket of limitation.
In closing, don’t settle for mediocrity simply because it is more comfortable than challenging the limits others place on you. Have the confidence to listen to your inner voice and go for it. Positive thoughts lead to positive action which lead to positive results. Be amazing and be amazed!