Feeling invincible is a common
trait for most teenagers, but hopefully by the time
they've started their first job, the feeling has begun
one's lack of invincibility is a growing
yet, we know that many people never grow
up! I have met several people in my
career who believed they were invincible and
indispensable. In fact, the first person I knew
who believed this was me. And I was a bit older
we feel invincible and indispensable, we have no
understanding of our limitations. We believe there
is no task insurmountable, no issue non- negotiable, no
mountain un-climbable. While we can all view this
type of resilience as remarkable (and sometimes
essential), there is a down side to being completely
disconnected from the reality of limitation.
down side is that when we believe we are invincible and
can do anything by and for ourselves, we cannot lead
others because we simply believe we don't need
others. We may even have a sense of arrogance that
no one can do it as well as we can.
the reality is that we do need others to accomplish our
aspirations at work and at home. Leaders
recognize their need for others because they respect
what others can do and are well connected to their own
sense of limitation.
was reminded of my stubborn disconnection from my own
limitations just the other day.
was arranging our holiday cards on the mantel when I
accidentally knocked over a large painting that was on
the mantel leaning up against the wall. As it
crashed down towards me, I saw that it had also knocked
down a large, metal candle stick sitting
next to it. In a split second as I
witnessed the candle
stick falling through the air, I thought about
this metal object crashing down on the granite floor and
I imagined it damaging the stone.
with my invincibility intact, I stuck my foot out in
order to break its fall (my hands were busy catching the
painting). Well, didn't you know that my foot is
tougher than granite?!? I might as well have
taken a hammer to my foot! Fortunately, I didn't
break my foot.
I sat there icing it, I cried. I
cried because of the pain but also because the incident
reminded me of how fragile I really am and how fragile
life really is. It reminded me how important it is to
know your own limitations; after all, even a candle
stick could stop me in my tracks!
we don't know our own limitations, we take on too
much...we over promise and over schedule. We
juggle the world while others sit back and just
myself juggling holiday cards, paintings and candle
sticks with both my hands and feet made me chuckle,
yet made me realize that I was at a critical point of
needing to ask for help from others.
your limitations, isn't about signaling weakness or
about admitting defeat, it is the opposite, it is about
empowering yourself to be more successful.
Recognizing your limitations means losing your arrogance
about others' abilities and engaging them to be part of
faced this lesson many times in my career.
time we were given a mandate from our senior leadership
team to launch a product. However, this directive
was at odds with our strategic direction and my team
(including me) was completely against it. I
promised my team that I would get us off of the
hook. It was a well-intentioned promise, but it
also was based in invincibility. I didn't know
what I didn't know and yet, I put myself on the line to
deliver. In my mind, I could do it; I could get
senior management to reverse their directive, of course
I could do it!
I was wrong. I couldn't do it.
I couldn't get us off the hook to launch the
product. After all, our senior leadership
had another plan in mind. As a result, my team
lost faith and trust in me. The most frustrating
part of this situation was that I had made that promise
to my team with all of my best
see, the other down side to not knowing your
limitations is that even with your best intentions; you
can disappoint others and destroy trust.
leaders don't think they can do it all because they
understand how they are limited in what they
know and in what they can impact. They
understand the importance of building bridges in
order to have others' fill those gaps.
craziness of the holidays is a good time for us to
realize that maybe we just can't do it all and to engage
the help of others. So, this holiday
season, get in touch with your limitations
you need others to get the job done
realistic on what you can and can't do
your number of commitments to a minimum
for help and assistance
the contributions of others
for a last-minute, meaningful gift for a friend or loved
one? Give the gift of Self-Exploration.
on January 14th for a workshop on how to brand
yourself a thought-leader. Check it out!