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The Illusion Of Limits


Marian Evans, Managing Director at Elevate BC Ltd

To go beyond a limit, we must first understand what the limit is and who imposed it.

Google’s English dictionary, provided by Oxford Languages, defines the word “limit” as:

1. A point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass.

2. A restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible.

For something to feel limiting, we must arrive at a point we believe we cannot go beyond. This realization generally comes about when we experience some aspect of failure—we fail to continue on our course or trajectory, or we simply fail to imagine ourselves beyond this point.

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Even business leaders, who from the outside may appear to have it all sussed out, often halt their onward progression and fall short of their true potential. The leaders I work with have often had ambitions to reach a particular level in an organization. But what if that level isn’t where you are destined to stop? What inspires some to keep going and continue to set a blazing trail? Put simply: it’s the ability to overcome limits.

Herein lies the challenge. It’s safe, comfortable and wonderfully familiar inside our comfort zone. However, that’s not helpful when everything we could wish for is on the other side of fear. Beyond that limit is a world of possibility. Limits prevent us from meeting our true potential. What are you capable of? For those who can muster up the courage to open the box and peer outside, there is no going back.

I have lost count of the number of clients who come to me for coaching who have been stuck in a loop of repetitive negative behavior—for instance, a client who on the one hand is desperate to accelerate in their career but on the other hand automatically discounts themselves when a board-level vacancy comes up. What this example shows us is a deep-rooted self-belief. They dare not go beyond their limit, and that becomes habitual. In order to change, you need to rewrite your story and challenge those (often self-imposed) limits so you have the final say.

Top tip: Any word that starts with self indicates you are the only one with the power to change it. The single most potent tool we have is our mind. If mastered through daily training, it can create limitless success.

How To Build A Limitless Sense Of Self

These are the steps I go through with my coaching clients.

1. I always encourage clients to think big (and then challenge them to think bigger!). Ask yourself: What is the biggest goal you have? When we visualize what we could do if there were no limitations, we begin, slowly, to realize that many limits and impossibilities are things we ourselves have conjured up—and that they are false.

2. Now, look at your strengths, your character, your values and personal beliefs. If you can align your goals with your values, you create a powerful strategy.

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3. Now, think about the choices and sacrifices you would need to make in order to reach those goals. Is it worth the sacrifice? Is the pain worth the pleasure?

4. Break down a system and solution for every sacrifice.

5. Consider the benefits to your health and well-being because, unless these are part of the goal, the success will be very short-lived.

6. Look at what essential actions or daily habits this new version of yourself would need to have. Create a realistic road map.

7. Consider who will support you on the journey. Who reinforces the limits in your life (sappers) and who encourages you to be courageous (zappers)? Seek out zappers; they are the jet packs on the journey. Zappers energize you and lift you up and help you drive forward, while sappers drain you, bring you down and hold you back.

8. Work to ensure that not only the voices around you are constructive and energizing, but the voice inside you is too. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. There are many tools that can help nurture a positive mindset, but it is a process of unlearning and there will always be resistance. Maintaining balance through understanding resistance is another key element of success.

9. Finally, make fear your friend and challenge yourself every month to take a new risk and to stay in the stretch zone. Celebrate every single failure as a step closer to your goals.

If we don’t learn to face our fears regularly, we won’t learn to fail. Failing is the key that unlocks success, while the fears we don’t confront become our limits.


Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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