Exceeding the Limit: Flapping Your Arms Fast Enough to Succeed

By Barry Maher

No matter what the self help gurus tell us, we’ve all got limits. Much as I might want to, much as I might believe I can, I cannot for example flap my arms fast enough to fly. Nor, I would imagine, could I start at quarterback for the New England Patriots. No matter how hard I might try, the most likely result of attempting either one would be serious injury or death.

The problem though is that most of the time we’re stopped by the limits we impose upon ourselves long before we get anywhere near the limits imposed by reality.

A successful CEO called a friend right after agreeing to head a new company in an entirely different industry.

“I took this job,” he said, “because it was something I never in my wildest dreams envisioned I could do. Between you and I, it scares the hell out of me. Sure, confidence is important. But I take confidence in the fact that none of us—no matter how confident we might seem—are completely confident when confronting an unknown situation. That’s the challenge. And the fear. And the fun. At the very least it’ll be an interesting ride. I won’t be bored.”

When Andrea Jung became the first woman to head Avon, one of only four women running a Fortune 500 company at the time, she echoed those sentiments.

“Am I overwhelmed, a little bit scared?” she mused. “Absolutely. Do I think it’s a good feeling? Yes.”           

Are limits you’re imposing on yourself shortchanging your company?

That’s unfortunate.

Are those limits shortchanging yourself?

That’s tragic.

Can we fail when we’re stretching our limits? Absolutely. That’s the challenge of it. That’s the fun of it. That’s where the growth is and the opportunity. Why would you bother to play a game you knew you could never lose? But chances are that people with a lot less going for them are succeeding at something you’d like to succeed at every day. Other people with more going for them are sitting on their hands and letting their lives pass them by, letting things happen to them instead of going out and happening to things.

Forget flying. But just maybe playing quarterback for the Patriots is viable goal for you—not to mention a universe of far more likely possibilities.

© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada

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