Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” ~ Coco Chanel
- By the time we’re 17, we’ve been told “You can’t,” ~ 150,000 times.
- We’ve also been told “You can,” ~ 5000 times.
- That’s a 30:1 ratio of negative to positive programming. Wow. Who knew?
While this programming is often well intentioned, it limits our beliefs about ourselves and our potential as we grow into adults. Those limitations impact our personal and professional decisions and actions. And we never even know it.
Our childhood programming is the strongest and most embedded in our personas – creating and molding the people we become and the triggers/limitations we hold as knowns. But our limitation programming doesn’t end with our childhood.
As we reach young adulthood- we’re taught what we can and can’t do based on skills testing and peer opinions. We hit college and there are more aptitude tests as we’re pigeonholed into what we do well and what we should never do. The world says they’re focusing us for the future. Sounds more like limiting to me.
Then there’s the business world, where we’re immediately taught how things are done in each corporate culture. We’re criticized for coloring outside the corporate lines, rewarded for conforming to the herd (by leaders and our own brain)…and the limited programming continues.
Limiting Our Success
Our Can and Can’t programming significantly impacts our success.
- “I Can’t” puts us in a box. The can’ts serve to limit our perspectives of ourselves and our business. If we try something and fail – we learn we can’t do that. We end up missing opportunities because the opportunities appear similar to the dreaded “can’t” scenario. We don’t step into a new role because we fear we can’t succeed. We don’t push the envelope on a new innovation because we know we can’t create something important. And so it goes…
- “I Can” may be even more limiting. Most of my clients know what they can do well. They tell me right up front – proudly and securely. The challenge is that what we know we can do and be is rarely all that we can do and be. Our can’s become our safety blankets – and we hang on. We end up putting ourselves and our businesses into tightly defined boxes – complete with processes and beliefs that focus on what we know we can do.
How do we ditch the limits and to see our reality at this point in time clearly? Well – there’s not a single recipe for that. Shifting is highly specific to the business situation – and the people involved.
Folks who are willing to step into change and shift have a better opportunity to remove limits than those who continue to allow themselves to be triggered by stress, hang onto the status quo bias and hunker down.
I’ve seen small companies stay mired in their limited status quo even as larger companies shifted quickly into new beliefs and approaches. I’ve also seen large companies and even industries play dinosaur and hunker down in the tarpits. They watched themselves sink while hanging onto the way they’d always done it like a lifeline.
The simple answer is this. To have no limits – you have to truly believe you have no limits. Given the massive negative programming we all experience, how do we get beyond the limitations?
We’ll talk about that tomorrow… In the meantime, take a moment and pay attention to the limiting voices running through your life today. If you’re like me, once you pay attention, you’ll be shocked at what you find.
A Rebel Note: Some readers have suggested I break my long posts into multiple days to make the content easier to consume. So I’m doing that this week.
I would love your feedback as to whether you LIKE to come back for more or prefer to simply read it all in one post, at your convenience. I am not focused on about building traffic with multiple days of posts. I do want to make my posts easy and convenient for all. Please give me feedback – in comments or privately as you feel most comfortable on which scenarios – or others you would prefer! THANKS so much in advance!