In this issue ~~
* Working Within Limitations
* "Tortoise" Coaching: Moving
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
While we all dream of having ultimate freedom to be and do
anything and everything we want, the hard truth of the matter
is that we all face some limitations, large or small. Limitations
may be things you've dealt with all your life, or they may come
upon you suddenly through an accident or change of circumstances.
But limitations don't have to be a jail sentence. In art,
for example, while complete freedom can be glorious and expansive,
sometimes the most innovative ideas come from solving a problem.
Having boundaries forces you to use your resources in imaginative
ways, and a limitation viewed as a challenge can inspire you
to create something completely unexpected.
Limitations can take many different shapes. The most obvious
are health or physical disabilities and limited financial means.
Others are limited time or energy; lack of skills, knowledge
or credentials; and reduced opportunities due to age, gender
and/or racial bias or economic background. A change in status
due to divorce or job loss can also be a limiting factor.
We also experience "perceived" limitations. Feelings
such as fear, self-doubt, feeling you're not good enough live
in our minds, but can stop us just as effectively as physical
limitations. I would venture to say that every one of us had
an experience in our childhood where someone told us we were
a quitter or bad at math or would never amount to anything that
imprinted itself on our psyche and kept us from achieving our
potential, at least for awhile.
But limitations can be overcome, or at least stretched, and
you can probably find numerous examples of people in your own
life who have done so -- maybe even yourself. Here are some of
the more famous ones:
~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee, "the world's best female athlete," overcame
poverty and asthma to become a three-time Olympic gold medalist,
world record-holder and motivational speaker.
~ Russian skater Maria Butyrskaya was told by the Russian
skating federation that she wasn't good enough and was dropped
by her coach at the age of 15. Her determination and iron will
have since made her the five-time Russian champion, the 1999
World Champion and a top competitor in the 2002 Olympics at the
"advanced" age (for a skater) of 29.
~ Gymnast Kerri Strug pushed through the pain of an injured
ankle to successfully complete her final vault at the 1996 Olympics,
thereby clinching the gold medal for her team.
~ Irish painter Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, painted
with the only limb over which he had control. His story is told
in the film My Left Foot.
~ In the midst of a successful acting career, Christopher
Reeve suffered a broken neck in a riding accident, which left
him a quadriplegic. Since the accident, he directed his first
film, acts occasionally, wrote a book and does speaking engagements
across the country on behalf the Christopher Reeve Foundation,
which supports research to develop effective treatments and a
cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other central
nervous system disorders. Says Reeve, "I have my down days,
but I haven't been incapacitated by them."
~ After being told that her blindness was permanent and tired
of hearing "blind people can't . . .," Lisa Fittipaldi, having never painted before,
picked up the child's watercolor set her husband gave her to
pull her out of her depression and completed her first painting.
Her work is now in galleries and private collections throughout
the world, and Lisa founded the Mind's Eye Foundation to advocate for visually-
and hearing-impaired children.
~ Actor Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease finally became
too severe to hide from the public. He withdrew from a successful
TV series and has dedicated the Michael J. Fox Foundation for
Parkinson's Research to finding a cure for Parkinson's within
~ Actress Marlee Matlin, deaf since the age of 18 months,
won the Oscar and the Golden Globe Awards for her film debut
in "Children of a Lesser God" at the age of 21. She
has gone on to a successful film and TV career, both as actress
and producer, and is affiliated with numerous charities.
~ Deborah Rosado Shaw, author of Dream Big!: A Roadmap for Facing Life's Challenges
and Creating the Life You Deserve, was born in the
South Bronx to a Puerto Rican family plagued by serious health
problems and limited means. Inspired by an ambitious boyfriend
who was determined to go to Harvard, she got herself a scholarship
to Wellesley and went on to win an Avon Women of Enterprise Award
and inspire other women to "dream big."
~ Oprah Winfrey, a woman of color who grew up with poverty
and abuse, is one of the richest and most successful people in
~ Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, lost more status and
privilege than most of us will ever experience when she and Prince
Andrew divorced. In the aftermath, "Fergie" ran up
a 7-figure debt. Unwilling to let her children down, she pulled
herself together, began earning her own income and paid off her
~ Grandma Moses began painting and was discovered when she
was in her late 70s.
~ Beethoven was deaf when he wrote the Ninth Symphony, perhaps
~ Helen Keller . . . need I say more?
Stephen Covey said that "we are limited, but we can push
back the borders of our limitations." So, what can you do
to push back your limitations?
~ Be realistic about who you are and what you can do. You
can accomplish more by accepting your limitations and starting
from there, rather than depleting your energy wishing you were
somewhere else. Self-pity and giving up are the biggest obstacles
~ When you feel limited by your circumstances, come up with
as many alternatives or options as possible. Be imaginative.
In the brainstorming process, you'll open up new possibilities
for yourself that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
~ Challenge your limiters. If you were given only 3 colors
to paint with, what would you do with them? Keep pushing the
envelope. Make it a game, not a reason to diminish yourself or
your abilities. Boundaries give us something to push against.
While those boundaries may sometimes be constricting, they can
force you to be more focused and productive than you might be
~ Change your expectations, or let them go altogether. Sometimes,
when you try something you don't think you're good at, you can
release your expectations and just go for it. I can attest to
this one myself, as English was one of my weaker subjects in
high school, and here I am a writer and editor! (This is also
a good exercise for perfectionists.)
~ Value the talents and abilities you do have, and leverage
them. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. The gifts
you have may not be the ones your family or friends value. Create
your own set of values, rather than succumbing to other people's
expectations, and use your gifts fully.
~ Use your limitations to help you focus and use your resources
efficiently. If you have $20 to pay for groceries for the week,
you'll think more carefully about what to buy than if you had
an unlimited amount.
~ Do what you can when you can. Modify or adjust your dreams
to suit your own parameters, not how it's "supposed"
to be done. Every path to success is unique.
~ If you limitation came upon you suddenly, through accident
or loss, be sure to deal with the grief, so that you can move
Challenging your limitations can be scary, and yes, you'll
probably feel discouraged at times. But if you feel drawn to
doing something despite the challenges, your successes will be
that much more exhilarating, while giving up can lead to boredom
or depression. I don't know anyone who's ever regretted trying.
We always have a choice: We can let our limitations stop us,
or we can let them inspire us to greater heights of achievement
and character. If someone like Christopher Reeve can accomplish
so much from a wheelchair, and without self-pity, how can we
do any less when we have so much.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Tortoise" Coaching: Moving
If you find yourself dealing with limitations, yet have much
you want to accomplish, I offer a special type of coaching called
Tortoise Coaching (like the Tortoise and the Hare), for those
who want to achieve, despite being challenged by time, energy
or other limiters. Click
here to find more information. If you feel you might benefit from
Tortoise Coaching, I invite you to e-mail me at [email protected] to schedule a free 1/2-hour telephone consultation.
When you're dreaming, start big, as if there were no limitations,
before you narrow it down. We often eliminate possibilities as
they occur to us, without giving them a chance. Start with your
ideal, figure out what parts of it are important to you and why,
then see how you can achieve the "why" in ways that
work for you. For example, if you have a dream to run the New
York City marathon, but can't, what could you do that would give
you that same sense of accomplishment?
"The more the means are limited, the stronger the expression:
that, perhaps, explains the choice of a limited palette"
~ Pierre Soulages
"Whether we like it or not, each of us is constrained
by limits on what we can do and feel. To ignore these limits
leads to denial and eventually to failure. To achieve excellence,
we must first understand the reality of the everyday, with all
its demands and potential frustrations."
~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With
"Your only limitations are those you set up in your mind,
or permit others to set up for you."
~ Og Mandino
"My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand
ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges,
and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by
~ Helen Keller
(click on the book, tape or disk graphic to
see a description at Amazon.com)
Dream Big!: A Roadmap
for Facing Life's Challenges and Creating the Life You Deserve
. . . Deborah Rosado Shaw
Rising: Rising Above Limitations . . . Denise Linn (audiocassette)
Conquer Your Critical
Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to End Negative Self-Talk
and Live Free from Imagined Limitations . . . Robert W.
Firestone, PhD, Lisa Firestone, PhD, Joyce Catlett
It's Only Too Late If
You Don't Start Now: How to Create Your Second Life at Any Age
. . . Barbara Sher
The Added Dimension:
Celebrating the Opportunities, Rewards, and Challenges of the
ADD Experience . . . Kate Kelly, Peggy Ramundo, D. Steven
Still Me . . .
A Kind of Grace: The
Autobiography of the World's Greatest Female Athlete .
. . Jackie Joyner-Kersee with Sonja Steptoe
Deaf Child Crossing
. . . Marlee Matlin
© 2002 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.