A famous line from a classic Clint Eastwood movie, “Ya gotta know your limitations”. Over time we think we know what our limitations are, but that could be the problem. Thinking you know your limitations could be the reason why you’re limited. If you perceive you can’t reach a goal or achieve a result, the chances are you won’t. It’s self-defeating.
As youngsters we mostly learn self-limitations through parental expectations and rules, laws, proper behavior, and policies/procedures to name a few. Some of you remember strict guidelines at school or the constraints of authoritarian teachers/bosses. Behavioral modification is all about rewarding the positive and punishing the negative. Over time it works too well: “Because I believe it can’t be done, I can’t do it”. Has that been your mantra?
Ever hear the comment, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or “we tried it once and it didn’t work”, or “you’ll get in trouble if you do it differently”? On the other hand, we keep hearing about “thinking outside the box”, or “in order to be competitive we need to find a better way”? Talk about conflicting directions! Each of us has to decide which philosophy we follow in life and our careers. Which one will it be? Is it the self-defeating, can’t-do-it, limited philosophy or the ability to stretch your self-imposed limits to seek the next level of achievement? Some companies encourage experimentation, while others build in a fear of being wrong and discourage trying an innovation. Which company do you work for and is it compatible with your own self-worth value to contribute more?
One of the telltale signs of your company’s behavior is to look at those who are promoted. Are the promotions given to those who are limited in their vision, that “tow the line” and seldom if ever test the limits of what’s possible? Or are promotions given to those who successfully take a reasonable risk to improve their results and the organization?
Organizations begin to fall behind when they continue to replicate what has been successful in the past, repeat how things have always been done and prevent seeing how they could be done better. When the external environment changes and new ways of managing are the answer, do we set up impediments where there are none, or do we create a new level of excellence?
If you see yourself as an agent of change wanting to improve performance, you’ll find some people agreeing with your direction, wanting to make the change years ago. Others will be neutral to your thinking until they see which way the wind in shifting. And still others will point out the reasons why it won’t work. Only your own view of the possibilities or limitations will be your guide.
You’re only constrained by the sense of what’s possible and your ability to manage the steps toward your next level of accomplishment.
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