Take your best shot

In my presentations, a message I frequently share with audiences is “Real handicaps can be overcome; it is the self-imposed handicaps that hold us back.” Here’s the difference. A handicap is valid and unchangeable, whereas a self-imposed limitation is imaginary and changeable.

Karen Keller, Ph.D. calls self-imposed limitations “Your personal glass ceiling.” Self-imposed limitations can become disabilities if we allow them to prevent us from achieving our potential. When a person sets subjective limits on their capacity, they rarely go beyond them. Here are four principles that can help you break through self-imposed limitations with commitment and consistency:

1. Change your personal brand

Your brand is derived from who you think you are, what others can expect from you, and how are you unique. In addition, a brand has an image, name, and internal beliefs. Recognize that it is not your talent or skills holding you back — but what you believe about your personal brand.

As Longfellow noted, “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Changing your personal brand may mean the difference between satisfactory or spectacular achievements.

2. Leave the known

Self-imposed limitations cause us to underestimate ourselves and overestimate others. As a result, we tend to stay within our comfort zone and become risk resistant.

One way to break through this safety zone is to try something you have never attempted. To increase your courage, it is important to focus on possible gains instead of possible losses. Remember, not every race can be won, but losing is guaranteed if you never enter the race.

3. Watch your mouth

Words can be our greatest asset or liability. How we talk to ourselves shapes our perspective and can lift us up or knock us down.

Positive language can open new possibilities, increase motivation, and be a powerful catalyst for overcoming imaginary barriers. Remember, there will be plenty of people that say, “You can’t.” Make sure that person is not you!

4. Play up

As a tennis player, one strategy to improve your game is called “playing up.” This means intentionally playing matches with others who are more advanced.

Have you ever noticed when you continually compete with others who are less skilled than you, it becomes less of a challenge, and more difficult to remain motivated to improve? Find people who encourage you to do more and be more. This will inspire you to “play up” and push you beyond your self-imposed limitations.

You have a bright future that you can create by crushing imaginary limitations! Will there be setbacks? Absolutely. It is our choice whether we see it as a loss that limits us, or a lesson we can grow from. As philosopher Lao Tzu wrote 2,000 years ago, “You are capable of more than you think.”

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