Pushing Beyond Limitations Can Be Painful
Why You Should Do It Anyways
“But, it’s always been done this way.”
“That’s just not possible. It doesn’t work like that.”
“I know it sucks, but these are just the rules of the game. And you gotta play if you wanna win.”
“No way. They’ll never go for it.”
“This is how we do it in our world/industry/niche/business/circles.”
How many times have you heard the same old rigamarole as you throw out new business ideas or offer unconventional wisdom around how to reinvent a process, product, or service? Limitation after limitation, rule after rule, assumption after assumption. It starts to get real old, real fast.
Let’s talk about this word: L I M I T A T I O N S.
Have you ever noticed that it’s just missing one letter: L I M I T A C T I O N S
On a very basic level, limitations are just that: they limit action. They limit momentum. They limit growth. They limit creativity. They limit possibility.
Or, think of it in another way:
Creativity + possibility = momentum
Momentum + action = growth
Throw a limitation in there and you’ve disrupted the flow of potential. And not in the cool “SpaceX/AirBnB/Uber/Crytpo” kind of disruptor way. In the “Seriously, dude, don’t be that guy” kind of way.
Succumbing to limitations is tied directly to lack of growth. Sometimes we unconsciously place self-imposed limitations on ourselves because it’s easier than remaining open to scary, scary, wild, unknown possibility. Yeah, we are an interesting species indeed. And even the most emboldened entrepreneurs can get stuck in the space between growth and success, for reasons that may surprise you.
I Don’t Wanna but I Guess I Gotta
I’m gonna break it down for you.
I know this may sound crazy but, to some people, growth is scary. And I’m talking any kind of growth (personal, spiritual, professional). YOU GUYS, remember having growing pains as a kid? Seriously, that stuff was nuts. It hurt (maybe you were lucky enough to have a love/hate relationship with “Icy Hot”. Pro tip: Don’t rub your eyes after applying).
But really, why can growth feel terrifying? Because growth takes ACTION. And action has a tendency to hurt sometimes. While we bemoan complacency, it’s easy to get sucked into the comfort zone of it. Hoovered right up. Engulfed into the ethers of the black hole.
You’ve gotta work for growth. You’ve gotta stretch and expand and do heavy lifting and be willing to question everything you know.
Which means you may have to be down to endure many brainstorming and wacky whiteboard sessions. Maybe you’ve gotta be down for considering email bankruptcy in order to move forward with a clean slate. You’ve most certainly gotta gotta be down for having your perspective challenged and your ego knocked down a level on occasion.
But action is the only way through.
If You Are Gonna Green-Thumb Your Way to Growth, Expect to Bloom
You know why else growth can be scary? Because it can be unfamiliar territory. And because we are afraid of what’s on the other side of growth. Things like: revelations, shedding the past, new boundaries, shifting paradigms, success, you name it.
And yes, you’d be shocked at how many people are afraid of success Old, limiting stories around self-worth show up like an unwelcome houseguest: “What will I do if actually grow and become successful? Am I worth it? Can I handle it?”.
LOOK. When you tend to a garden well don’t you expect it to grow and flourish? Do you start plucking the seedlings from the soil when the appear because you aren’t sure what to do next? Seriously, GTFO.
Why are we so flabbergasted when self-growth leads to success? Oh, because sometimes success doesn’t look exactly what we envisioned it look like. Because we’ve limited ourself to believing success manifests in only one, specific way. And when it leads us to the unexpected, well, that can throw us off a bit.
(On the flip side, why are some folks gobsmacked when they realize they aren’t entitled to success without self-growth? That’s for a future post).
Reminder: be prepared to welcome and receive success if you are are actively and consciously engaged in growth. Be prepared for some unexpected, but awesome, opportunities and outcomes. It’s about adapting and being open to showing up where you are needed in the world.
Many an entrepreneur has put in incredible effort and done the grind only to end up in a vastly different place than they’d anticipated (but still a meaningful and prosperous one). This is one example where I think NOT staying in your lane is perfectly acceptable.
Take David H. McConnell for example, the name behind the successful Avon brand. McConnell began his career as a door-to-door book salesman…in 1886. But he quickly figured out a bit of a hack: offer perfume samples as a way to get a woman’s attention and then, figuratively or not, get in the door.
And don’t forget how Oprah went from getting her start in beauty pageants (she won Miss Black Tennessee in 1972) to breaking all barriers by slaying as the first black female anchor on Nashville’s news stations. The Oprah empire was born.
They did the work. They took action. They grew. They bypassed the hell out of limitations and lane restrictions. And they succeeded.
But Wait, Can’t We Learn from Limitations?
Of course. There are three things to remember about limitations:
- Sometimes they are necessary
- Usually they aren’t
- They almost always are malleable
The silver lining with being thrown limitations is that you are given the chance to challenge them. Oftentimes you’ll find that these rules and boundaries are perceived or implied. Meaning, someone along the way made them up, they once legitimately applied, or we just accepted them as the norm. Overcoming these perceived limitations is like being a sort of mythbuster.
Remember that limitations are also incredibly standardized; made for the masses. They may not apply to everyone. Pushing past that limitation takes just one person or situation that doesn’t fit into the conventional standard in which that limitation was meant to apply to.
Another benefit of dissecting limitations is that you practice how to unpack assumptions. This is an underappreciated skill that allows you to get to the root of a problem and see it from a new perspective. I can’t tell you how many times business owners have simply accepted certain limitations for years until someone comes along to challenge and unpack it.
Suddenly, potentiality is unlocked. And that’s more than a silver-lining: it’s gold.
I’m not saying it’s easy to be the person who calls out the naysayers and the “you-can’t-do-that”ers. And it doesn’t even have to look like throwing down the gauntlet or causing a ruckus. Here’s the deal: you can be your own best ruckus. Be aware, and notice, when limitations are being throw your way. If it’s being done consistently, run.
And if that person happens to be YOU placing L I M I T A C T I O N S on yourself, then stop, look, and listen.
And be ready for the some massive discovery and mighty success after those growing pains wear off.