Moving Forward - Working Beyond Your Limits

Scientist who train fleas have observed a strange but predictable habit of fleas while training them. Fleas are trained by placing them in a cardboard box with a lid on top. The fleas will jump up and hit the top of the cardboard box over and over and over again.  While observing the fleas jump and hit the lid, something very interesting became obvious to the scientists. The fleas naturally continued to jump, but over time they did not jump high enough to hit the lid. Apparently, hitting the lid forced them to limit the height of their jump.  And when the lid was removed, the fleas continued to jump, but they did not jump out of the box. They did not jump out because they couldn’t jump out. Why not?  Well the reason is simple. They had conditioned themselves to jump just high enough to miss hitting the lid. Once they had conditioned themselves to jump just so high, that became the limit of their ability.   They learned to work within a limitation rather than to overcome a limitation.

Learning to work beyond our inherent limitations is the key to learning to perform at a consistently high level of success.  Our challenge is to first recognize the things about us that may become lids that limit our performance.  When patience is essential to success, an impatient nature would be a lid and a limitation to our performance; when self-assurance is essential to success, insecurity would be a lid and a limitation to our success.  Our limitations are the lids we develop and the behaviors we demonstrate when we learn that it is easier and more comfortable for us to work within rather than to overcome our inherent lids.

Our ability to achieve and to sustain consistently high levels of success is dependent on how we deal with our lids. When leaders work within their limitations they are typically only able to lead to the level of the problem they encountered last.  They lead to their limits rather than to their strengths.  But this fundamental aspect of life is not limited just to those of us in leadership positions; many people learn to limit themselves by the size of the problems they encounter in life.  When they do this they never reach their uncapped potential. Just like the flea, they fail to jump higher because they are conditioned by their own lids to jump to only to their limits. They redefine success to mean working within rather than overcoming.

There is hope for you if you are willing to look in the right place for your solution.   Becoming an uncommonly effective person is more a function of will than skill.  It is learning, for example, to develop the character that defines and overcomes your limits and never allowing your character to be developed and defined through the limits you will face in life.  Just as working beyond their limits is universally true of the uncommonly effective people, it is also universally true that when you perform to the level of your limits you actually limit the people and organizations you lead!  As a leader, your family cannot operate beyond the level of your greatest lid; your team cannot operate beyond your weakest lid and; your organization cannot achieve beyond the lids you allow for yourself.

Learn never to hold others you lead back by the things that hold you back.The most uncommonly successful people and the most progressively effective organizations have this one thing in common – they learn to enable their people and their organizations to truly perform to their highest potential – they Work Beyond Their Limits.

So what can make you more successful today is developing the ability work beyond the limitations that are common to others and to release others and to teach others how to do the same thing.  Working within your lids may seem necessary for your own comfort and your sense of accomplishment, but working beyond your limitations is essential for your success and the success others can expect to achieve with you.  If you don’t move forward others cannot move ahead!