My self-limiting story

(Actually, one of many!)

Yesterday’s entry highlighted an issue that probably applies to most of us. One topic stood out for me as I thought about the question:

What are the self-limiting, self-fulfilling stories that I tell myself?

I am not good at thinking on my feet.

I’ve been telling myself – and others – this story all of my adult life. It’s true that I like to have time to reflect and think before responding in most situations.

So, what am I going to do about changing my story?

Well, the first thing that I’ve told myself is that this is not unique to me. I’m confident that all of our self-limiting stories apply to many others.

Secondly, there are ways to turn my strengths to my advantage. Given my preference for reflection etc, I tend to be well prepared for most situations. And, if I tell myself that story, my confidence in responding to ad hoc queries will increase.

Thirdly, I adopt a philosophy that assumes positive intent from the other person. They’re generally not trying to trip me up or embarrass me. They want me input. So, if they value my thoughts, chances are that they’ll be willing to wait a wee while for them. So I can ask for breathing space.

 Finally, I’m actually quite comfortable with saying “I don’t know”. Omniscience is beyond me, so why add pressure?




Change your habits, change your life

I recently listened to Chase Jarvis interviewing Ramit Sethi. (It’s a long listen at approximately 80 minutes, but it’s worth it!)

This interview triggered several thoughts, which will appear here in due course.

My key takeaway was:

What are the self-limiting, self-fulfilling stories that I tell myself?

We frequently limit our potential by accepting limitations and developing a fixed, negative mindset about them. We tend to express them in extreme terms – for example, “I can never… “

“Never”? Really? That’s a very long time!

I’m not suggesting that you can be good at anything that you turn your mind to. But, if you have a self-limiting, self-fulfilling mantra that you’d like to change, what are you prepared to do about it?

Are you willing to invest a bit of time to generate ideas to overcome the problem? Will you commit to some focussed learning to develop skills in this area?

Or, are you comfortable to stick in the self-pitying, ‘whinge zone’?

Tomorrow, I’ll share an example from my own whingeing!


Just got this from Peter Koestenbaum’s weekly leadership thought:

Experience can be developed only through more experience. The authentic leader always looks out for new experiences. You cannot anticipate exactly what a new experience will teach you (that is precisely why it is new), what your feelings will be, or where the newness will take you. … Leaders grow by accelerating experience.

I would also add that leaders grow through the experiences that they don’t look for, but which arrive anyway.  Especially when those experiences are not of the pleasant variety.   How we react, adjust and continue will reveal a great deal about our character and it touches on the four points of the leadership diamond.



Why, oh why, oh why?

Yes… more thoughts on ‘why’!

When we start with ‘how’ or ‘what’, we quickly become locked into existing ways of working and thinking.  We tend to defend the status quo, to seek certainty.  We are not adaptable or agile.

When we start with ‘why’, we have the capacity to adjust, to develop, to grow, to change direction while staying true to our core.  With clarity on ‘why’, the ‘how’ and ‘what’ can be flexible.

As I read yesterday – in a book called ‘Ten things to do in a conceptual emergency’ –

We tend to standardise … and yearn for certainty when we should opt for learning…  In unknown territory we need a compass not a map, something to give us direction and purpose.

The need to stretch

Part of my re-invigorated morning routine is to stretch my body.  But this entry is about a different kind of stretch – it’s about challenging ourselves to do something new that will take us to another level.

This theory applies at the gym where varying your workout challenges your muscles.  In the same way, it should apply to our working life – taking on new challenges –  and to our ‘thinking’ life – finding new stimuli, reading about a new topic etc.

I recently heard Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like an Artist) being interviewed and he said:

If you ever find yourself in a room where you’re the most talented, you need to find a new room.

Stretching yourself takes effort.  Firstly, the mental effort to recognise the need.  Secondly, the effort to follow through – especially when the stretch is difficult or if you feel that you are failing initially.

Alternatively, you can refuse to stretch yourself, but this will leave you stuck in the same wee world/ routine/ mindset.

Of course, you can choose which route to take.  It’s up to you.

Walk the line

I once heard (or did I read it?) Nancy Ortberg say:

“There’s a fine line between being courageous and being a jerk.”

I’m sure that she’s right.  I’m equally sure that we should be treading that fine line every day, because the alternative is to live a safe, timid life.

I also think that there are many occasions when we only realise where the line is after we’ve crossed it.  (Or is that just me?)  And that’s the point where we need to be really courageous – by admitting our error and rectifying the situation in the most appropriate way (apologising, asking for forgiveness, extracting foot from mouth…)

True wisdom

… from Henri Nouwen.

In our consumerist, competitive, comparative society these words need to penetrate our souls and permeate our being:

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!