Know Your Limit


I drove down the highway last week and I made the mistake of hanging out on the fast lane. Very quickly I noticed this posh Audi tailing my car. The driver was in a hurry to get to his destination and didn't need me wasting his time that day. I humbly maneuvered my old clunker out of that lane to the right and watched him zoom past me like someone who had things to do, places to be and people to see. I knew my car's limits. My brain was fully engaged regarding how far my car could go regardless of how hard I pressed down on the accelerator. Do you know your limits? Can you tell when you are approaching it? All things have limits - cars, planes, appliances, bikes, sofas - you name it. All you need to do is read the manual. We humans however, don't come with a label, a manual or a warning, nevertheless we have limitations physically, emotionally, mentally and most importantly chronologically. Regardless of what we think, we all have expiration dates. 

Not knowing and understanding our limits is never a sign of strength. All this does is keeps us ignorant regarding when to say yes and when it is appropriate to say no. It puts us at risk of constantly crossing the line and burning out. I went over my limit last month and my body completely shut down on me. I saw it coming and I decided to ignore it and to keep pressing on. Needless to say, it created a truckload of problems for me personally and professionally. We are often gifted enough to do many things, but no one is blessed with the power to do everything. It's important to know your limits and to respect them. I often hear people say - "Push beyond your limits, exceed them and never accept them." My advice is always the same - "Honor your limitations and be brave enough to admit it to yourself that it's time to take a step back." So, how do we explore our limits? The only way we know our limits is when we push ourselves towards them. And when we get there, to accept them. Going beyond our limit should only happen once. Once we have learnt that valuable lesson, we are wise to be mindful of it moving forward. This is especially important for those who see themselves as driven.

Albert Einstein said, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it limits." Facing reality regarding the tiredness of the body, spirit and soul is critical to success. Taking the time necessary to recharge our batteries is critical to accomplishing the tasks set before us. Being kind to oneself means acknowledging when we are at the end of our rope and need some time to ourselves to regroup. It is important to know activity does not always translate to progress. Alfred Montapert tells us: "Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress." The fact that we insist on defying our limits and pushing beyond them with ongoing activity does not mean that we are making any significant headway. Sometimes, just unplugging and allowing the brain to rest and reset allows us to resume our work with fresh eyes. 

How do we respond when we have reach our limit and others are none the wiser? First and foremost, we should never be afraid to stop - to raise our hand and say, "I think I need to take a step back for a day or two." That is what vacation and sick days are for. Never taking a vacation or a sick day is nothing to be proud of. It may actually indicate a lack of balance. Secondly, saying no when necessary is also paramount. We are never called to meet the needs of everyone. We cannot be the solution to everyone's problems. We all know the old adage that says: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." It is key to master the art of saying no in a way that does not threaten the atmosphere of tranquility. Many of us have an issue with saying no for a variety of reasons but learning this art helps to maintain boundaries and keeps us focused on our own priorities. Thirdly, integrity is everything. Knowing what we are each capable of and making sure that our aspirations are realistic is major. Setting goals in a way that allows time for rest and recuperation makes our goals more attainable. 

When we work with and in tandem with rather than against our physical, emotional and mental limitations, we do better and accomplish more. Having limits is not a disadvantage. It is what makes us human. 

No comments:

Post a Comment