In my quest to grow as a person and lead myself well, I switched into thinking that limitations were simply a problem that I needed to solve with the right strategy or amount of effort. This wasn’t a conscious thought and my words said the opposite. But deep down, I was trying to eliminate all signs of being fragile.
What if those limitations are actually a key to growth and self-leadership?
“In my finite life, the mundane has begun to sparkle.
The things I love – the things I should love – become clearer, brighter.”
Kate Bowler (No Cure For Being Human)
This is the gift of our limited and fragile human existence if we embrace it. When we stop trying to do it all and ignoring those limits, we find what is truly important. Instead of splitting our efforts in so many directions, we can target that energy into a few. Days when I have completely open space on my calendar often get filled up with meaningless busy work. Short time blocks between other commitments often see me focused on the most important task and getting it done. I home in on the priority within the limits.
What would your life look like if you had the mental and calendar capacity to invest into your family? What would your community look like if you had the space to listen deeply and make connections? Maybe what we most need is to recognise we have limited energy, time and focus. People sometimes refer to this as ‘spoons’. When you know you only have a few spoons today, choose to use them where they make the most impact. Refusing to acknowledge how few spoons you have mean you end up wasting them and have little left over for what you actually value.
Last night, I stayed up late after a meeting to finish up a couple of tasks and watch an episode of the latest TV show to grab my attention. I was unconsciously pushing back on the limitation of my human body and the 24-hour day we all live in. Instead of breaking free of a limitation, it has increased the impact today. My brain is foggy. The tasks on my ‘to do’ list seem harder. If I had embraced that need to rest, I would have been able to focus more effectively.
I always have so many roles and pursuits on the go. If I try to do all of them, I end up doing nothing well. Part of leading myself well is deciding what will get my attention and what I will put on the backburner for now. Recognising the gift of limits allows me to let go of good things to allow space for the best things. This is a work in progress!
What limits do you have in your life? What gift can these limits bring you? Let’s encourage each other to be human even if this goes against our culture. Maybe we can be part of changing that culture – to embrace limits, to release toxic expectations and thrive within the time and energy we have.