(This is the third chapter of Scott Arney's Super Hero Series, which starts with Fear is Our Enemy)
Do you create your own limitations? If you do, you have a lot of company. Maybe you have made a habit of convincing yourself that you will not be up to the task at hand. Perhaps you are worried about looking foolish in your pursuit of a dream or an idea. Maybe you think you lack the confidence or the requisite skill set to achieve success.
When you examine this obstacle and the extent, if any, to which it applies to you and your decision-making, you must be willing to honestly assess your own opinion of yourself. How you view yourself will go a long way in determining whether or not you have a healthy and productive perspective or if you are holding yourself back because you are unduly consumed with negative thoughts. If you feel as though you cannot get out of your own way, you may very well be unnecessarily succumbing to your own self-imposed limitations.
Luckily, I know someone who I think can help you break free of those barriers. His name is Infinite Self and he is another one of my associates who appears to be ordinary, but who actually has super hero abilities because he has developed a three step system that has helped him to live completely free of self-imposed limitations.
I asked him to outline his system and the three steps that comprise it and this is what he said:
- Understand nature and your instincts
- Develop and maintain positive self esteem
- Find your motivation
He told me that he happened upon his super hero ability when he realized that he was feeling unfulfilled. He took some time to look inward and to think about what common threads existed in his decision making to that point, and it became clear to him that all of the barriers and limitations that had blocked him from the sort of progress he desired were self-imposed.
This was a major break-through for him because once he identified that his obstacles were his own, he knew he only needed to work on one person to fix what wasn’t working and he immediately set out to do so. This realization also helped him to isolate the fact that self-created, otherwise imaginary limitations, do not exist anywhere else in nature. They only exist within the human mind.
This thought led him to think about a nature show he had recently watched involving the life of a tiger. He had noticed that when a tiger is hunting for his next meal, he does not spend one moment worrying about whether or not he should pursue his prey for fear that he might not catch him, or that his tail might get caught on a branch. The tiger does not worry about what the other tigers will think if he goes home hungry. He instinctually hunts and pursues his goals because his survival depends on it. His understanding of his habitat and what he needs to do to survive and thrive in his surroundings carries the day, every day.
A tiger’s actions are guided by his instincts, in part, because his survival depends on it. Humans have instincts as well, but our evolved and complex thought processes and reasoning skills tend to make it easier to forget we have them or to otherwise override them.
Infinite Self began to wonder how different his life would be if he approached his decision-making opportunities as if his survival and well-being depended on it? He figured that if he were to achieve the happiness and fulfillment he was seeking, he would have to bring his natural instincts into play as a first step.
He further reasoned that the tiger’s version of nature doesn’t allow for much time for second guessing or negative thoughts to develop. If he could discover or re-awaken his natural instincts, it would help him to overcome his nagging doubts. Concentrating on his journey forward would keep him busy and productive, which would reduce the amount of time that Infinite Self had to create those self-imposed obstacles.
He then started thinking about his view of himself. Self-esteem is the mirror reflection of how you see yourself and he did not like what he saw. So, he began to ask himself some difficult questions like why in the world he would ever work against himself in his pursuit of happiness and consistency? Why would he deliberately make it more difficult to enjoy his life?
So he set out to answer those questions because he knew that if he did not feel good about himself, he owed it to himself to figure out why and to address those issues. He determined that self-esteem was a huge part of the base that he would need to build in order to make good decisions.
He identified a root cause of his poor self-esteem as a nagging fear of failure. When it came to making a decision and taking action, he found that he didn’t want to face the disappointment of falling short or to feel foolish in his pursuit and because he hadn’t yet bothered to put himself out there, he was devoid of the types of positive examples he needed to build confidence and push past his self-esteem issues.
He thought about people he admired and he realized that anyone who had ever achieved any kind of success had to be willing to look foolish in pursuit of that dream. Every one of the examples he could think of involved people who had fallen short, felt silly, or taken a few lumps along their path to success.
Infinite Self was able to tie the development of his self-esteem directly to his new found understanding of nature and the role his instincts play when he realized that he naturally sought out things that made him feel good and he sought to avoid events and circumstances that made him feel bad. Once he did something that made him feel like an idiot, he was naturally motivated to not feel that way again. He became determined to get past his frustration or that feeling of falling short.
When he embraced this reality and learned from his experiences, especially those that weren’t what he was seeking, he gained strength and confidence and his self-esteem soon blossomed as a result. Once he was making mistakes and falling short, he was on the path to success. What he had previously feared actually became a great motivator.
The fulfillment he gained and the reward he reaped from setting goals and achieving them made him feel so good and capable, he knew that if he ever needed any internal motivation to keep him on his positive path, he would never again struggle to find it.
He still had one more step to take, however, and that came upon him when he realized that when he created his own limitations, it had a devastating effect on the people around him as well.
As a manager of people, if he did not display a willingness to try new things and to trust others and their abilities, every one of his employees suffered as a result and innovation throughout the organization diminished. After all, if the leader of a particular group or unit is stunted in his own forward progress, how would anyone who is a part of that group or unit be able to progress?
As a parent, he knew that one of the greatest things he could do for his kids was to set positive examples for them. If he were to continually talk himself out of pursuing goals and seeking out opportunities to put his best foot forward, he imagined the negative impact that example would have on his children.
Thinking of these examples, he knew that forms of external motivation were all around him if he ever needed to draw from them.
Infinite Self has discovered the joy of living life free of self-imposed barriers and imagined limitations and you can as well.
Author’s Note: This is actually the second version of this article. I accidentally wrote over the first version when I was writing this series of articles. I sulked for a while. I was frustrated when I thought about the amount of time I lost and I was not looking forward to re-writing the article as a complete do-over, but once I got past all of that, I took a deep breath and I thought about what my friend Infinite Self would do. I sat down to re-write it as soon as I could. I actually like this version better than the original.
Be sure to check Scott's Spot on Patrolmen's Dispatch for each chapter of his Super Hero Series, which starts with Fear is Our Enemy; and his ongoing Serial Decision Maker series.