Often we define ourselves by our limits. However, our human potential is not limited to our role, our status, our resources or our authority. Our potential in networks is exponential. When we do what we can and move beyond what we alone do, much more can be achieved.
In a recent project, we had one of the inevitable budgetary issues that affect work. We didn’t have the money to proceed with our plans. Steps were underway to solve that problem, but finding budget takes time. Instead of defining ourselves by the limits of our money, we asked ‘what can we do now with what we have?’. After a short creative conversation, we developed a new way to deliver our project, one that involved tests with the resources we had and investing in ideas that had proven success. We switched our model to use the resources we had, to leverage networks and experimentation.
Every time I hear the phrase “above my pay grade” I cringe. It is used to describe information, decisions and actions that are beyond an individual’s limits. Often these are limits people have imposed on themselves. Where they are real constraints, the individual still has the ability to act, to influence or to work around that constraint with the help of others. If you can’t approve it, go influence the person who can. If that doesn’t work, build a coalition to influence the person who can.
The most insidious limits are those that we alone know. These limits are the thoughts that constrain our actions. “I am not famous enough”. ‘I am not good enough”. “ I can’t do that”. “I am not influential/smart/powerful/wealthy enough”. These are the limits that paralyse us even when others expect or demand our action. Limits like these hide in all sorts of forms; respect for others, following process, honouring traditions, fearing consequences and failure, etc. These limiting thoughts are the simplest yet hardest to break. We need to unthink them and act.
We have fewer limits than we know. Together we have few limits at all.