Achieve More: Recognize Self-Imposed Limits

Self-imposed limits are just that: put on you, by you. Situations navigated at different stages of your life create how you navigate the world today. Limiting beliefs do indeed serve a purpose … maybe to aid in knowing one’s place in the community or even maybe even for protection. 

It’s through ongoing work that we understand what drives us (i.e. motivation) and what shapes our choices (i.e. beliefs). Cambridge University’s Neuroscience department discovered an interplay between motivation and belief and the dopamine neurons in the human brain. Continuing to unconsciously follow patterns creates the place where self-imposed limits come into existence. We may be rewarding the wrong behaviors and reinforcing choices that strengthen out-of-date protection techniques. Increasing awareness of ourselves and how we show up is a foundational element of Dimensional Leadership™.

Dimensional Leadership™ is the way we interact with ourselves, others, and the situations in which we find ourselves. Understanding how our brain works allows more insight to filter through. The actions taken demonstrate what we prioritize. 

Understanding the map of your journey starts with what you prioritize. 

On every map is a legend – the decoder – which allows anyone viewing to understand the map. In your organization, it is also important for each person to have access to know the what, where, who, how, and why of the journey. 

The more clear the map legend, the better business decisions will be. Shifting what’s included in your decision-making process will also support the actions needed to reach achievement. Doing so will help you find self-imposed limits (and group assumptions) that impede achievement.

JW Rayhons, President of Rayhons Financial Solutions, says that the way to achieve more is to know what your company values are. He talks about the importance of knowing what they mean. The meaning becomes shared by what company values sound like and how they look day-to-day. 

The way we interact, our behaviors and expectations, are like the red point of the compass. That red tip always points to true north. Company values are fundamental to the our organization’s direction. 

There are four pieces of the legend on your business map that ensure you move toward the destination of your goals and objectives.

1: Tune into brain training and brain research.

Today’s key research is possible because of what we know about motivation from studies involving psychology, behavioral economics, and our brain. The more researchers uncover, the more there is to consider with regard to what we have to work with to best support a healthy business culture. We all know culture is the way that people come together to work. What individuals sometimes overlook in our map is that the culture creates the terrain. When on a journey we need to know the landscape. In our business, the culture is a big part of the landscape that the team must accounted for in order to move projects forward.

Another part of this mix are the habits we rely on.

Both good and bad habits exist, of course, in the skills we rely on – the core competencies that are second nature – and in the way we respond. If reacting or giving emotions to those talking to us (or even take the path of being aloof during interactions), we may think we have fully-developed soft skills. But in reality, the skills we use in leadership – including focus, discernment, and prioritization – are being constantly developed. When complacency or laziness sneaks in, our practice begins to lack intention. Lack of intention allows us to skate on our skills and this actually decreases awareness and results over time.

Practice of any kind creates a habit. And all habits, regardless of how they are labeled, require review and attention. Be intentional with your practice and question to better understand the terrain you are working with:

  • What habits do you have? What habits does your organization have?
  • Do they influence your impact – yes or no – and what must shift to change results?

The only way to know which habits are onerous is by taking time to reflect on what’s happening.

2: Self-imposed limits can change with intentional action…

…provided you are willing to face your limiting beliefs. It’s easy to stay comfortable, maybe even stick our head in the sand, and think things are okay. Okay is good. But okay does not put you in control of what you want to do … agreed to do … decided to do. It takes courage to look at situations that make people uncomfortable or that go against the “norm.”

When you stop to assess where you are at, it is like stopping to look at your map and make sure you are still on course. 

The most important point is to review where you were and where you are at regularly. This allows for real-time course corrections. Adjusting as you go keeps momentum moving toward the destination. Your map is your guide. The more you have success assessing and adjusting, the more confidence you have in things that may not yet be fully in view. 

What defines our beliefs is what motivates us; therefore, taking time to learn from our mistakes is vital. The present is noticing both what keeps us going and got us to this point. Jen Coken, best selling author, comedian, and life coach, offers a sage reminder that knowing what we did well can be as much a benefit as learning from one’s mistakes. 

Integrating “noticing what works” into the process of reflection not only helps you know yourself more, it helps in doing more of what you are good at and in developing areas of desired improvement.

Increased confidence happens when you pause to celebrate what went well and what made circumstances go well. 

3: Recognize how you best support your colleagues and employees.

Michelle Shakti Anne talked about the need to take responsibility for who you are at the core. When we take responsibility for the way we show up, the rest of the world changes for the better. Not only can there be clarity surrounding what we want and what we can do to get there, but also we can make decisions that last. Consistently showing up is foundational to every relationship. It’s from this place that we can create a space for interacting with people each normal day … and the more chaotic ones too. 

This level of awareness has another benefit. Knowing what people around us are good at and ensuring they do what they are good at (in addition to motivating factors) increases overall productivity. It creates a space for high-functioning teams. Increasing productivity results in increasing the bottom line.

Gallup found that employees who exercise their strengths daily are eight percent more productive and six times more likely to be engaged. A high performance organization has high performing people. What is focused on, the habits we cultivate, support what we allow. To shift from being limited to making decisions that last, creating path for rapid growth, and developing the next level of operational efficiency – all hinges upon the habits you choose to develop in your team.

The people you choose to have on the journey with you can make or break your ability to get to your destination. Your map must include the needed resources and instructions on how to fully utilize them. 

On the BOLD Business Podcast, we discuss self imposed limits. Watch this intro to the topic:

What have you learned from facing your self-imposed limits?


Reflection is required.

And, yes, you need intentional protected time to reflect. I call this time an Executive Present Retreat. Uncovering your own – and your organization’s – self-imposed limits is necessary to evaluate opportunities. The space for a Present Retreat is to carve out time in your schedule every week to reflect, assess, evaluate, and anticipate. It uses what you know about your organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It incorporates the soft-skill capacity of the leadership team as well as core competencies to fortify the culture you want to have.

Executive Present Retreats do more than just take a block uninterrupted time for four hours per week. These blocks of time allow you to create a space that is safe for:

  • Facing things that are uncomfortable.
  • Being present with yourself and what is real right now.
  • Exploring what you want to change and need to change.

When you prioritize understanding the legend of the map you have made, you can articulate it to others. The more explicit you can be in the plan – the journey – the better prepared both you and your team can be.

Listen to the BOLD Business Podcast


Search Blogs and Podcasts