Tell me if this sounds familiar: “The only person who has the power to limit what you can do is you.”
How about this? “You are the ceiling on what you can accomplish.”
Or maybe this one: “If you really want it, you’ll make it happen. If you don’t, you’ll make excuses.”
Maybe I just grew up in an incredibly Tony-Robbins-centric world, but I must have had these ideas repeated to me in some form every week of my childhood. My parents said these things, my teachers said these things, my karate instructor said these things. They became the kind of words I’d receive with a wave of my hand and a, “Yeah, yeah. I know.”
I won’t say that they didn’t shape my approach to life. They did. They trained my willpower muscle. I accomplished a lot because I kept myself in check with these standards.
But, like anything else, when you’re fed the same thing over and over, it starts to lose its flavor.
Therefore I am incredibly grateful that somebody positioned this idea to me a little differently when I hit my late twenties. This “somebody” was an author, and he wrote a book called The Big Leap. This book reframed the way I approach—well, everything in my business.
Consider this idea:
We’re all creative, relational brings with big dreams about the difference we can make in the world. Right? The possibilities of what each of us could accomplish are endless. The only difference between those of us who do great things and those of us who don’t is a willingness to recognize where the discomfort starts and fear takes over—and then choose mind over matter.
Hendricks, the author of The Big Leap, calls the threshold between comfort and discomfort—willingness to take a risk and paralyzing fear—the Upper Limit Problem. We all have it. It’s not that some people do and some people don’t; there’s no “special something” or “secret sauce” that makes the powerful people more successful. Some of us simply have the training to say, “This is scary. But if I don’t do it, then I’ll only ever be a dreamer.”
From a parallel point of view, Ashley Meehan gave an excellent talk at the Creative Mornings breakfast lecture series in March 2018 in which she said that every life-changing endeavor has three phases: Scary, Hard, and Great. If we are to believe Hendricks’s concept of the Upper Limit Problem, then the majority of the world’s population will never get past the “Scared” phase:
- You harbor a secret love for somebody in your life, but out of fear of rejection, you never say anything, and just remain “friends.”
- You look at management jobs every month on Craigslist, but never apply because you don’t have the required Bachelor’s degree and/or experience.
- You have a great idea for a product, but the idea of quitting your job, or asking for investors, or seeking out help developing a prototype is just too risky financially, so you just hope no one else has the idea before you’re “ready” to make a move.
- The person who can profess feelings for that same special someone (“Hard”) may just be the one who gets the happily-ever-after (“Great”).
- The person who takes a leap of faith, writes an amazing cover letter, and applies even though she doesn’t have experience (“Hard”) at least gets an interview (“Great”).
- The person who enters the marketplace with your same great idea (“Hard”) ends up landing magazine placements and TV spots and makes a solid living (“Great”).
The distinction between words like, “You are the ceiling on what you can accomplish,” and, “Where does your discomfort start?” is that the second idea offers some idea of where to look for signs that you’re being the ceiling on your own life. It offers the priceless value of clarity.
And when you have clarity, you can meet your fear with the logic of the Upper Limit problem. You can overcome emotion with will.
This was a huge breakthrough for me. I knew I wanted to leave my job two years or more before the decision was made for me; I had a great idea, and I was willing to study myself into the ground preparing for the day I’d work on my own… but deciding when was the right time was a huge obstacle.
Then, once I was in business, I had dreams to write books, film online courses, add services to my offerings… and each idea was met with fear. What if people think I’m a fraud? What if people want their money back? What if I say something that’s wrong, or outdated information? What if I get a negative review online, or people whisper about me?
But each fear was met with this reminder: “This might be my Upper Limit problem.” I was able to ask, “What about this scares me?”—and, more often than not, the risk was not as great as I initially perceived with my emotion, while the chances of reward were too great to pass up.
Today, because I can recognize when I’m being the ceiling on my own life and choose to push my fear, I am the author of a book of DIY copywriting that reviewers have called “game-changing”; I’m the creator of the wildly popular online course Learn to Live Stream; and I’m the chief organizer of the event Ethical Style, which 2000 people attended last year.
That’s a pretty big deal.
To learn more about your own Upper Limits, and break through to the next level of your best you, get your copy of The Big Leap here. Then come back and tell me about your breakthroughs below!
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