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To have a great idea, have a lot of them.
-- Thomas Edison


The MONTHLY Motivator - September 2002

Transcending Limitations

On a regular basis you are confronted with what seem to be limitations. There’s not enough money for something you really need. There’s not enough time to attend to all your obligations and responsibilities. There is no one who understands you. You run up against a wall when attempting to get the cooperation of others. You run into obstacles when attempting to accomplish something.

But are these things really hard and fast limitations, or are they challenges that you have chosen to interpret as limitations? And what is the most effective strategy for moving beyond them?

The natural response is to relate to limitations directly, either by focused intention and action to defeat them, or by using them as excuses for simply giving up. Many times the strategy of directly confronting limitations can work very well. For example, if there’s not enough money, you can devise a workable plan to get more money. If there’s not enough time, you can put in the thought and effort to better prioritize and organize the time you have available. If there are certain obstacles standing in the way of a particular accomplishment, you can work to dismantle them one by one.

Sooner or later, though, you’re going to run up against a limitation that will simply not yield to direct effort. When that happens, then the limitation is likely to be transformed into an excuse. You just throw up your hands and resign yourself to the fact that there’s no getting around it.

But is that really true? Are there some limitations that you will never be able to get beyond? If the limitations cannot be directly conquered, is the only other choice to simply give up? No, that’s not the case at all.

In fact, when you’re willing to go deeply enough into the driving purpose behind whatever you wish to accomplish, you’ll find that there is indeed a way to get beyond almost anything you may have previously considered to be a limitation.

For the tough, stubborn limitations that cannot be directly conquered, there is another strategy, and that is to render them irrelevant. Most limitations are limitations solely because of assumptions you have made. When you can change those assumptions, often you can leave the related limitations in the dust. The fact is that limitations are themselves very limited. Each limitation blocks only a single pathway to your desired goal. But just because there is an unyielding limitation blocking one of the pathways does not mean that you’re completely cut off from that goal.

If you were driving across town and you heard on the radio that there was a serious traffic accident up ahead, blocking your route, what would you do? Would you drive on to the site of the accident, then get out of your car and try to push the damaged vehicles out of the way? Certainly it would be the most direct way to confront the limitation that was blocking you from reaching your destination. But you probably wouldn’t do that. Most likely you would simply switch to an alternate route, one that avoided the accident altogether. It seems like an obvious choice when you look at it in terms of making your way through traffic. For any given physical destination, there are many different ways to get there.

Yet too often in other areas of life, we tend to set our sights upon a goal and then assume that there’s only one way to reach that goal. When that way becomes hopelessly blocked, we’re all too willing to give up on the goal altogether. Or we focus on a goal that has no real meaning in and of itself, and fail to appreciate the real, driving purpose that the goal expresses.

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--Ralph Marston

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