Leadership in a Word: Limitations
Life has no limitations, except the ones you make. - Les Brown
A WORD ABOUT LIMITATIONS
One of the challenges in leadership is learning how to leverage your limitations. The more you grow as a leader, the more responsibilities you acquire. This means you give up certain rights in the process. It’s taking the old-school leadership pyramid where the leader is at the top and turning it upside down.
When one normally thinks of limitations it’s done so in a negative connotation. It often implies some type of handicap or restriction is holding you back. But that is not necessarily the case.
As a leader, having limitations does not mean you won’t be successful. It just means that success will look different to you. It will come in different ways. It’s all about how you leverage your limitations. But how? Here are two different ways to think about leveraging your limitations.
LIMITATIONS HELP YOU TO SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES
As you come to understand your role as a leader which is fewer rights, more responsibilities, you come to learn how to include more people in the process. You are now in a position to extend and expand your influence. When you do this you become stronger as a result.
Leveraging your limitations is about bringing people together to do what you can’t do alone. What may be a limitation for you is now a tremendous opportunity for the team. Where once before it was about leveraging yourself for success, you are now positioning your team for success. It may seem inconsequential, but the payoff can make a huge difference.
LIMITATIONS HELP YOU DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS
The traditional view of limitations bends toward restrictions placed on a person- what they can’t do. But I believe that your limitations can expose you to your strengths - what you are really good at. It’s all about your point of view.
Reader’s Digest some time ago shared a story about George B. Dantzig. During his first year of graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley, he arrived late for a statistics class. He saw two problems on the blackboard. Assuming they were homework, he copied them and a few days later turned in his solutions. One Sunday morning six weeks afterward, the professor appeared at Dantzig’s door, waving a manuscript. It turned out that the professor had merely written two examples of unsolvable problems on the blackboard. The manuscript was Dantzig’s work readied for publication.
Fortunately for Dantzig, he was not in class when the professor told the students that the problems could not be solved. You leverage your leadership and your limitations when you discover your strengths and stop listening to people who tell you what you can’t do or accomplish.
“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” - Amelia Earhart
“Set high standards and few limitations for yourself.” - Anthony J. D’Angelo
“There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.” - Napoleon Hill
“Out of limitations comes creativity.” - Debbie Allen
“If we can see past preconceived limitations, then the possibilities are endless.” - Amy Purdy
A FINAL WORD
Often time the greatest limitations we have are the ones we create by our mindsets and attitudes. If you want to overcome your limitations begin there. Every other limitation you face is a creative opportunity to increase your leadership and influence. Don’t allow your limitations define who you are and who you can become.
©2018 Doug Dickerson