When it comes to what we can achieve in our lives we tend to put a self imposed limit on ourselves. I can’t run 24kms because I have weak lungs - I can’t do it because I am not a long distance runner. We designate self imposed lanes that we can stay in based on what people tell us to believe, and what we choose to believe ourselves. Our mindsets have dictated the outcomes for us already before they’ve even occurred. I could never work for Google, AirBnb, Facebook or *insert dream company here*. Or I don’t know how I can justify charging 10x what I charge now. I could never make a million dollars, or 10 million or whatever your limit is. My work could never help millions of people. Overtime I’ve realised that these are self imposed limits that primarily stem from our limited mindsets. That anything is possible if we let go of the ceiling caps that we impose on ourselves. I can never do that because of ‘xyz’. How many times have we heard variations of that?
When I was young I had ‘pectus excavatum’ and was told by my parents that I had weak lungs, that I should be careful and always keep my chest warm. I got sick often as a kid and my parents would attribute it to my weak body. Because of this I had pigeon holed myself into believing and convincing myself that I couldn’t run long distances because of my ‘weak lungs’. I could run pretty fast but never far. This was my truth and my reality, even though I didn’t put in the hours or effort to practice to get better. It had become my self fulfilling prophecy. Because of this self imposed limit, I missed out on the chance to play sports with so many of my buddies. I missed out on the opportunity to train and compete in those early years. Sport was stupid to me, I had no natural talent so why bother. Instead I sat on the sidelines looking on.
And yet many years later I managed to run 10km comfortably with a little training. And played hours of gruelling tennis, with fitness being one of my main assets. It turns out it wasn’t ‘pectus excavatum’ that was holding me back, but more so the reality that I had set for myself. Running long distances didn’t come as naturally or as easily for me (and for many people it doesn’t), but that upper limit is usually our self imposed truths. I COULD run long distances, if I was tenacious enough to push through the discomfort, consistent enough to run multiple times a week and train, meticulous enough to time and measure myself and try to improve each week. The self fulfilling prophecy was a lie for 20+ years, I could run long distances but I never tried to or wanted to believe it. I had labelled myself and pigeonholed myself into a corner. I’d stayed in my lane until one day I didn’t.
2X Olympic gold medalist Kieren Perkins is an Australian long distance swimmer. And for a period of time he held the world record for 400m, 800m, 1500m freestyle. An impressive feat because Kieren was an asthmatic at a young age, he could’ve of thrown in the towel and let asthma be a reason not to reach his upper limits. And yet he went on to become an olympic champion despite the adversity. He had the mindset to keep growing and allowed the inner champion to appear.
So what does these story have to do with anything? In our careers and lives we all tend to set self imposed limits on ourselves. And what I want for you is to allow yourself to think bigger. To catch yourselves when you have set self imposed truths – that are self limiting and not actually true. I could never speak in public because of ‘xyz’. I could never work for ‘xyz’ because it’s too far away and I could never relocate. I can’t charge more than $50 per hour. People say I’m an asshole so I should play the part. These are not facts, but self imposed truths. Allow yourself to see where your upper limits are and push beyond that. To break that ceiling. If you are tenacious in the face of adversity, consistent in execution and meticulous with measuring your gradual improvement, you will realise nearly anything is possible. Make your self fulfilling prophecy a positive one and not one that will hold you back. You can do ‘xyz’ because you’ll apply the right steps to get there.
1. Learn from people you admire and raise your upper limits to their standards. Think how they think. Paradigm shifts can occur through experiences or through reading and understanding how the best people operate. Watch videos, read books or go learn directly from mentors.
2. Break down the areas where you’ve put ceiling caps on yourselves. What’s your self fulfilling prophecy that’s holding you back? Answer the why? And then see how you can break it – with a series steps that you can take, then start taking action.
3. Turn self fulfilling prophecies into a positive. Allow your mindset to lock on to your goals and to map strategies and solutions to get there. Ie. I will be my own boss and run a successful multimillion dollar business in 5 years. That’s an empty statement until you can truly believe it will happen because of all the strategies that you’ve mapped out and the daily execution that you are applying.
So break your upper limits and don’t let your inner self and others hold you back.