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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Leaders Don’t Buy Into Others’ Limitations

Do you know what is just great?

It’s that despite all your critics and naysayers, you have the ability to achieve your dreams and goals by focusing on your strengths and developing yourself as a leader. As you travel your leadership journey, you will find tremendous temptation to succumb to limitations. And since leadership involves people, today, I want to discuss two types of limitations you will face which involve other people.

First Point: The limitations others set on you.

Your world is filled with very well meaning people, including friends and family members who want to (some unintentional and some intentional) set limitations on you for your own well being. They question your thoughts and ideas if they are outside of the paradigm in which they are comfortable. You may hear things like:

  1. Where in the world did you come up with that?

  2. What made you think of such a thing?

  3. What makes you think you can _____________?

  4. You know others have tried that and look what happened to them!

They will very nicely tell you to find something more stable to do. A more sure thing to try or you better be thinking about security. My personal favorite: You call that working?

Clear Vision Leadership Tip #89: Remember all great ideas were first ridiculed

It’s very tempting to get discouraged and give up on your ideas and dreams due to the weight of the limitations. Leaders do not do that. They find the resiliency and resolve to push through and believe in themselves and their ideas. In the Deep South, on the coast, there are creatures known as Blue Crabs. You can catch a lot of Blue Crabs and put them in a bucket together. You never have to worry about losing any of your catch, because as soon of one of the Blue Crabs start to climb to the top of the bucket to escape, the others pull them back inside to the group. Make sure you always find a way to escape your blue crab group. Don’t buy into the limitations or pressure they put on your dreams and success.

Leaders apply tremendous focus and energy to escape the limitations of others. Bill Gates left Harvard because he had dreams of building a business which would dovetail with the computer industry and provide a computer on every desk. Do you think others questioned him? Heck, do you think he questioned himself? Sure. What would the world be like if Bill Gates had allowed the limitations of others to detour him?

Second Point: The limitations others set for themselves

Leaders don’t buy into the limitations others set on themselves. One of my personal favorite things is when someone participates in our coaching programs or leadership seminars and they break a self-limiting belief. It’s a pretty easy thing to spot once you know how.

Here’s a rule of thumb:

Victims say “I can’t”

Peak Performers say “What do I have to do?”

How many times do you say “I can’t”? Sure you can. Perhaps you don’t know how or you have never done it before, but in most instances, you can. Leaders zero in on this because leaders believe in people.

As a leader, you will hear:

  1. I don’t know how

  2. I’ve never ______

  3. I don’t know where to begin

  4. I can’t _______

  5. That’s too tough for me

Do not buy in to these self-imposed limitations right away.

Leaders believe in every person’s unlimited unrealized potential and many times we need leaders to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. Or, perhaps, we need leaders to believe in us when we may not have anyone else who does. (See point one above!).

General George Patton said “Tell people what to do and let them surprise you with their ingenuity”.

We have all heard stories in which people when faced with impossible odds overcame severe limitations. Leaders learn to challenge people and not buy into their self-imposed limitations. Set the bar high and celebrate with people when they achieve great things rather than being too much of a helper and a rescuer.

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