Put Me In Coach!
I never realized I was setting a limitation on myself, until I had a mentor provide their outside perspective. Once that fogged over window was wiped clean, boy did I have a different perspective.
See I always respected my elders; they had wisdom, experience and had been through the thicket of it all. I’m not just talking about my parents or grandparents when I say elders. But my business leaders, coworkers, managers, CEO’s; their title was an intimidation. Their title being higher than mine, made them my ‘elder’.
When I would apply for positions, I would get nervous! When I was approached by someone with a higher title than myself, I would get rattled! When I had to go speak with a group of executives, I felt like I was going through a menopausal episode, even though I was decades away from that. I believed they had all the knowledge, they had the experience, they had the decision-making power over all goals, strategies, ideas and solutions. What did I, the lower on the totem pole employee, have to bring to the table? What could I say that would influence a decision? What ideas could I possibly bring to the table that would be more ingenious than theirs?
I had been giving myself limitations, and not realizing how much I was hindering my growth. It took me a decade to get to a management position because of my limiting thoughts. I wouldn’t apply for positions because I thought “I’ve never done this one thing in the job description”, “I don’t think I have enough experience”, “There are so many other qualified people for the job, I don’t think I would have a chance”.
Once I made it to an upper-level position, I had an amazing mentor. His goal was to prepare me for the big leagues, to grow into someone I never thought myself I could be. “A true leader doesn’t create more followers; they create more leaders”. We would meet frequently, and during one of our meetings, he provided me with an observation he made. That I would stay quiet in the corner in management meetings. That I wouldn’t voice my ideas or solutions among the group.
After a lot of questioning and sifting through the layers of my brain like an archeological dig, we found my issue. I was setting a limitation on myself, all because of someone else’s title. This insight unlocked a part of my brain and opened my eyes. An awe, an inspiration, an epiphany, the blinds were no longer shut on my self-limitations. The light was shining through and there was no way of blocking it out now.
I’ll admit, my new way of thinking and being aware didn’t change overnight. Still to this day I must catch myself. It takes thought training, encouragement, mock meetings, utilizing tools and tips to overcome the hurdles I had set for myself over all those years.
It’s still a constant reminder that I my thoughts, ideas, solutions, are valid and can make a difference regardless of my title or someone else’s. But it is something I am constantly aware of, try to improve on and not let the thought of their title is higher or more important than mine, so let me limit myself and my potential.
Everyone sets limitations on themselves even though they may not realize it. Sometimes it takes a coach, a mentor, a leader, a friend to help you realize you are limiting your potential. Removing those limitations can open a whole can of potential if you let it! Push through your fears, pull in the courage, and rip through those constraints that are holding you back.