Limitations, Milestones and Dragons
655 home runs, 4-minute miles, perfect seasons, breaking the sound barrier, landing on the moon…what do these things all have in common?
No one thought they could be done until someone broke past that milestone and now these are not only reachable milestones but the conversation has turned to when will the milestone be reached again and how much further can someone go?
As a coach, it interests me to find out what the milestone or ceiling is that someone has on his or her mind. We all have some artificial barriers that are in place. How they got there and how strong they are is a topic for another day. However, just like fear or any other negative thought that a business leader or individual might have, if the self-limiting belief is allowed to persist then you will always stay just on this side of safe.
Before the four-minute mile was defeated by Sir Roger Bannister, doctors and runners frequently talked about how pushing the human body to the level of exertion needed to run that fast would most likely kill the runner. In short, runners could flirt with a four-minute mile but unless you wanted to kill yourself, you had better not push that hard.
The same type of myth surrounded the breaking of the ‘sound barrier’. There had been so many crashes, fatalities and near misses with pilots and planes that many thought that the sound barrier was an unreachable milestone. Then on October 14, 1947 with two broken ribs, Chuck Yeager climbed down into the belly of a B-29 and entered his experimental plane and became the fastest man in the world. From that point on, the race to break speed and altitude recorders was on. The world just needed someone to go first.
When early navigation maps or charts reached the end of what was known to the map maker, he would often through words or symbols indicate that “there be dragons” past his point of knowledge. This was simply a way of telling explorers or navigators that they were entering the unknown. What would sometimes follow is that crews would get nervous because they were becoming the first crew to enter those waters or push past that next mountain range.
While it is always easier to allow someone explore the unknown, if we are going to grow personally and professionally, we must be the explorer and prove or disprove the existence of the “dragons” in our own life and business.
So how do we ‘break on through to the other side’ (those that know music group The Doors, sorry I couldn’t help myself) to where growth and new opportunities occur? The following is a simple mental checklist that I have developed and use with my clients –
1) Identify what the limiting belief or unreachable milestone is
2) Think about what you are honestly willing to commit in terms of time and resources
3) Give yourself permission to have a little fear or trepidation about if you can actually reach push past the barrier in front of you. If you do not have a little fear then the objective is not large enough
4) Find a coach or a support network. All the people or teams that have accomplished the “unthinkable” had coaches, mentors, teams of technicians who bought into the goal and brought their skills and expertise to bear to support the individual or team
5) Be ready to take a punch or two. As you grow yourself or your business and move past the next milestone you will find it difficult and The Resistance will do two things to you – One it will present opportunities for you to quit and tell you it is alright to stop, no one ever expected you to make it this far. Two you will get pushed around and experience some setbacks and defeats. This is why it is important for you to be able to take a punch and keep moving.
Coach’s Wrap Up
We all have charts and maps in our minds, which mark the edge of our experience with a big call out of “There are dragons beyond this point.”
In business that edge of the map may be signing your first ‘big contract’ or it could be adding team members and equipment that you know will make you grow larger than you think you can manage.
In our personal lives, there are times when we move forward into new roles, responsibilities and relationships that promise stretch us and push us into greater development.
Whichever group you fall into, make sure that you have a great team around you, engage with a coach and most importantly believe that you are going to defeat the dragon.