Adults are amazing at respecting limits that don’t really exist.
And kids are amazing at disrespecting limits that do really exist.
Cries, tantrums, arguments, flattery, debate, negotiation. There’s no shame to their game.
They’ll use whatever they’ve got to see how a limit can be toppled, overturned and redesigned.
As we get older, though, and move along in life we adapt to the limits that the world throws back at us.
Conditioning, rules, beliefs — all of these boundaries become a part of the way we perceive the world and operate within it.
But as our habits and expectations become more and more entrenched, we start seeing limits where they don’t exist, eventually boxing ourselves into tighter and tighter spaces.
The truth, though, is that what’s not explicitly forbidden, is technically allowed.
Until you prove you can’t do it, then you technically can.
There are a zillion ways that you can play around with this logic:
If you don’t ask for the raise, then how do you know if you can have one?
If you don’t ask for an extension, then how do you know if the timeframe is flexible?
If you don’t ask for feedback, then how do you know what people are thinking?
If you don’t empower your team, then how do you know what they’re capable of?
If you don’t start, then how do you know if you can continue?
In day-to-day conversation this comes out as:
“Oh no, I just couldn’t ask her to recommend me for that position.”
“No one would ever want to read the stuff that I write.”
“I could never earn money selling my artwork.”
“There’s no way in hell that my boss would let me take the afternoons off on Wednesday.”
During my discovery calls with clients I ask a question that tends to stir the pot:
“What have you already put in place to move your goal forward?
There’s always a long pause on the other line, and then a voice that starts to list concrete actions that have been tested, or, at times, a voice that says "nothing yet."
Those answers help you see just how far you've stretched your frame to get what you want, and where you've encountered external or internal friction along the way.
Why is this important as a first step in moving a goal forward?
We can become so fixated on what we’re incapable of doing, or why something wouldn’t work out, that we forget to take a stab at it.
We feel boxed in by boundaries that haven’t been really been tested.
So tell me, if you could throw a tantrum to get what you want:
What would that be?
How is that important to you?
And what limits do you need to test to get it?