A couple weeks ago Seth Godin blogged about Accepting False Limits. I’d been working on a blog about this idea myself. After reading his blog I thought, should I even write about this now? After all, the great Oz has spoken. What can I possibly add? Then I realized, if I do not write about accepting false limits because I believe I have nothing to add, I am accepting a false limit!
I am sometimes cast under the spell of a “false limits” mentality, and at other times an “All Systems Go!” mentality. In this blog I want to identify some familiar “false limits” we impose on ourselves, and expose them for the imposters they are! I believe our failure to launch a project is tied to whatever we tell ourselves about it, in other words, our beliefs. You know the famous Henry Ford saying: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”
What are some common “false limits” we impose on ourselves, that prevent us from launching our projects? Here are four that are very familiar to me.
My idea isn’t original enough. If I were to sum up Seth’s “False Limits” blog, it’s this: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. He’s recasting a familiar platitude in his singular style. The need to be original is an unreasonable expectation. When the “not original enough” thought bubbles up in my head, I remind myself there is only one me with my unique experiences, a thought which always gives me lift off.
Others can do it better than I can. I have another friend whose dream job is to work as a cartoonist. Give him a topic, and on the fly he can produce an original and witty comic. Why doesn’t he pursue his dream? “Because there are a thousand other guys better than me.” He’s convinced himself that “a thousand other guys” he doesn’t even know possess more talent than him. My friend falls into this trap: Argue for your limitations, and they are yours.
Convincing myself it’s not perfect enough to launch. I recently listened to a presenter give a talk on happiness. For the first 20 minutes, I felt distracted by her littering of “uhs” throughout her talk. Eventually I stopped focusing on them, and found her message genuine and moving. This was a fantastic reminder to me that you can be powerful, impactful and imperfect. What a permission slip! George Eliot said, “The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.” If we wait too long to launch our projects because we’re so busy crafting, ultimately we miss opportunities to make a difference, accepting a “false limit.”
I might fail. I’ve embraced the value of failing in a previous post. This “false limit” stops a lot of people from moving forward. Here’s one of my own recent failures: I decided to email my recordings of each training session to participants, to reinforce learning. I announced it to my team and my boss. The very first time I tried to send the file, I learned it was too big. With the help of my Development and Marketing departments, we’ve created a solution to make the training available to all who want it. Here’s the truth: Every time I fail, I become smarter. If I hadn’t launched my idea, I would never have found out it couldn’t be done!
When I launch and avoid falling for those “false limit” imposters, I develop personally and professionally. I’m also my happiest when I’m creating something new. With each act of creation, I’m doing my part to move the world forward.