Facilitator Journal | Issue #0399, June 30, 2009
I'm in Stamford, Connecticut this week visiting my dear friends Neerja and Deepak. When I arrived on Sunday, Neerja related a recent experience she had that drove home for me the importance of questioning our most prized beliefs: negative self-assessments. Her story inspired this week's article, Release Unexamined Limitations, and is contained herein. I think our responsibility as group leaders compels us to question limitations where ever we see them, in ourselves and others. Let us know what you think.
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Release Unexamined Limitations
Realize that what we assume to be true seldom is.
Self Management Skill
How often do we take descriptions of the claimed limitations of ourselves and others to be fact? I am always surprised when I offer a possibility to a group and they tell me that in the "real world" things are not like that. It seems that our cultural conception of the real world is a very negative one. Why is it that we find it easier to take a negative conception of reality as fact and one that is positive and hopeful a fantasy?
I'm sure we've all experienced how our beliefs about anything reinforce or predetermine its reality. The self-fulfilling prophecy is familiar to us all but easily forgotten when we cling comfortably to familiar limitations. Helping your groups examine their limiting beliefs by questioning assumptions about what's true is a great gift you can offer as a facilitator.
While visiting my dear friends Neerja and Deepak in Stamford, Connecticut this week, Neerja related a recent experience she had that drove home for me the importance of questioning our most prized beliefs: negative self-assessments. Read her account below and let it be a reminder to you to question the limits you hear yourself and others impose upon themselves.
On our way to the movies we made a stop at the bank and since the parking lot was empty, I parked the car close to the ATM and waited in the car for my husband Deepak to complete his transactions. While waiting, I noticed a car circling around mine and wondered why the driver was looking right at me. She finally pulled out her handicap sticker and began to wave it at me. There was parking behind me, in front of me, beside me and as far as I could see all around me. Even though I was not actually in the handicapped spot, I respected her decision to park my space so I drove to a different one.
I sat there thinking about what just happened, then let it go as we drove to our destination. But the event continued percolating in the back of my mind. As the next two days unfolded, I realized that like the lady in the parking lot, I too have handicapped stickers I wave to the world just so I can return to my comfort zone.
One of my handicapped sticker states, "I am not organized." I agree I have had numerous unorganized moments but my resignation to the belief that I'm not organized keeps me using this as an excuse to be just that.
Another of my handicapped sticker states, "My worth is measured by my accomplishments." Yes, I feel good with accomplishments, but my worth cannot be reduced to results. What about who I am and how I relate to my world?
Yesterday, after hearing Neerja's story, I caught myself telling her how terribly unskilled I am at marketing myself. Having not heard her story, I probably would have continued to view this as a fact. But instead, I stopped and said, well no, this is not true. I have the ability to market and present myself very well at times. This new look opened me to an expanded view of myself and what's possible. Later in the day, we just happened to call on a potential client where we had to present ourselves in a marketing capacity. As it turns out, they offered us both the opportunity to sign on with them for possible future work.
How many times do we allow perceived handicaps to limit what's possible for us?
The next time you catch yourself telling yourself or someone else that you can't do so and so or you're not very good at this or that, stop and take a look. Is this really true or is this simply a habit of surrender to an unexamined limitation? How might your next action change if you were to withhold this belief, at least temporarily?
Perhaps taking a new look will inspire a fresh new action that will lead to exciting new possibilities. Please tell me what happens by replying to this email.
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