What’s Really Limiting You?


What’s Really Limiting You?

Have you ever had a great idea to take your business to the next level, and then set it aside because you lacked the confidence to see it through?

A few weeks ago, I sat by the waterfront with my family and our dog, Millie. Millie’s an Irish Wolfhound cross Mastiff. She’s big and strong with loads of energy. But as we watched the ducks and birds on the lake’s edge, she sat with us obediently. She wanted to chase them, but she’d been tethered with a long lead secured by a screwdriver (yes, a screwdriver), pushed into the grass.

At any time, she chose, she could have plucked it from the ground. But she wandered within its limits, sniffing and exploring, and then laying down because there was nothing else to do. She’d pop her head up at interesting sounds and exciting activity beyond her circle, but never ventured outside the area her lead permitted.

She looked beyond her limits but didn’t test them. She even sighed dramatically at the screwdriver and laid staring at it:

She wasn’t actually constrained but considered herself to be.

I found this to be such a vivid metaphor for life and the way we handle challenges and opportunities.

The tether, in most cases, comes from two sources:

1. External voices.

How often are we limited by comments from people who hardly know us? Or by people who knew us before we entered our transformational cacoon, who treat us as the person we used to be before experience changed us? External criticism and limiting-talk comes from all directions and for a range of reasons. Family, friends, colleagues and competitors frequently chip in their ‘two bobs worth,’ with varying motives. Some are just wanting to give well-meaning advice to keep you safe or sane. Others may see you as a threat, and their ‘advice’ is offered for a completely different purpose.

The key is to know our own strengths and carefully weigh the advice we’re given. We may think it’s purpose is to enhance life, but often it’s the source of restriction.

2. Our own voice.

How often does our inner voice pin us to the ground? It may give us room to wander but binds our wings when it comes time to fly. The way we talk or think about ourselves has a huge impact on our confidence, and the confidence others will have in us. If we don’t think we have the ability to do certain things (or at least express a healthy approach to something challenging), how can we expect others to feel differently?

Experience breeds confidence. Once we’ve tried new things and succeeded, our confidence grows, and we enter the next challenge a little more self-assured. But this process requires us to step out of our comfort zone in the first place; to push boundaries and extend our reach.

Life does have actual limits; it’s true.

But don’t be shackled by something that isn’t really a restriction. Think carefully about what’s preventing you from following through on ideas. Take a closer look at the voices influencing your decisions and identify the tethers. Have a positive mindset, get to know your own strength and don’t be afraid to test limits.

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