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100DC Day 86: Know Your Limitations

100 Day Challenge: Know Your LimitationsVery often the biggest barriers to success are paralysis by analysis, fear of failure, and lack of self-masters. In those cases, giving ourselves a serious dose of motivation is all that is needed to move to the next level.

Sometimes, however, there are real limitations that aren’t just figments of our imagination or produced by laziness. They are things that are out of our control. In those cases, recognizing the hard lines drawn by these limitations will be a key component to moving on to reach our goals.

Universal Limitations

Time

Studies have shown that you can become a world-class expert in almost any field with 10,000 hours of practice. That’s about five years of spending 40 hours per week at the desired skill. When you’re entering college, spending full-time for five years to leap ahead in your field is probably a good investment, but when you’re 50 and supporting a family of eight, you might not have the luxury of so much time in a single block.

Space

We have a rec room in the basement. There is a theater area with seating and storage, game table for four, foosball table, exercise equipment, and a popcorn machine. We have an all-weather ping pong table on the covered patio just outside the door.The other day my son asked if we’d ever get a pool table. I asked where we would put it.  Limited space is a fact of life. Moaning about it is pointless. I plan to live the rest of my life completely content without a pool table.

Capital

Most people in this modern age spend an inordinate amount of time accumulating cash. For some, it is for sustenance. For others, it is to satisfy ever-increasing desires. Either way, there are limits to the amount we have available to spend at a given time. (If only our elected leaders could figure out that simple arithmetic!)

Energy

I have been a night owl since birth. Because the world, sadly, has not accommodated my odd sleeping preferences, I’ve spent most of my life in a condition most would call sleep deprived. Somehow I’ve learned to function well in that state, but for many that simply isn’t possible. My husband is one of those people. Without enough sleep he is unable to work at his peak. Because he recognizes this fact, he makes sure he gets the optimal sleep for his body.

Customers

Contrary to what every MLM valiant — who’s trying to recruit you to his downline — says, every product or service has a limited customer base. While it’s true that most businesses don’t reach that threshold — and there are many ways to expand markets — being realistic about who you can reach makes sense when creating a business plan.

Information

I’ve chronicled my weight loss “adventure” here. As much as I’ve tried, there is simply no getting around the fact that in a world overflowing with fitness advice, the amount of correct, useful information on weight loss is limited. While there are many, many diet and fitness plans, there simply is not a perfect source of accurate information on this complex, personal subject.

Know How

For some time I’ve had a LinkedIn account, but I hardly know how to navigate around the place. One feature of the system enables “connections” to “endorse” each other on given skill sets. Recently I was notified that kind people were willing to endorse me on a number of subjects. While this gesture is appreciated, some of the endorsements were in areas where I have no expertise to speak of. For example someone claimed I had expertise in PHP (a language I can use only if given the correct code, told where to put it, and requiring only minimal modification) and MySQL (a relational database system I’m familiar with (because I’m a WordPress blogger) but struggle to manipulate in any way). Truth is, I’d like to toss both of them overboard for newer, better systems and, so, I don’t plan to take the time to learn either anytime soon.

Personnel

One person can only stretch so far. If you’re selling time (which is not the best income model to follow), there are only so many hours a day you can sell — even if you don’t sleep enough. If you want to get more done, you need other people to do it. And when qualified people are in short supply, you must deal with the reality of that (wo)manpower shortage.

Contacts

Years ago I read The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth by Robert Allen. The book tells a fictional story along side real-life experience making money. The system is to create a digital product and sell it only to a massive list of prospects.  I’ve met Allen on a number of occasions. He’s a nice enough guy, but the idea is utterly flawed. The success of the entire endeavor is based on having an enormous, targeted email list of people anxious to buy from you. Granted, Allen has spent decades creating that list, but that doesn’t apply to the vast majority of the population, let alone the down-on-her-luck and flat broke woman in the fictional story. Contacts are the life blood of sales, but the supply isn’t endless and getting a useful supply is hard work.

Technology

I have a dream piece of software. I have a name for it and in 2003 I bought the URL to offer it. But the product itself does not yet exist. I know it’s possible, but no single piece of software has met my needs in this department. Someday I’ll have the technology to do what I want. Today, I make do with other things. Unless/until I develop either the programming capability or the resources to fund the project, I’m probably going to have to get by with the (half-baked) solutions from other companies. And that is the reality of technology. Your choices are often limited, so you need to learn to work within those parameters.

 Reality of Limitations

Recognizing real limitations doesn’t have to be a barrier. Instead it can be the means for us to pivot in the right direction and to make positive changes while dealing with a fluid world.

Even the most successful buggy maker eventually experienced the economic impact of limitations.

One of my most notable personal “buggies” has been in the software arena. In the late 1980s I became something of an expert in HyperCard. I was paid for multiple tips in national computer publications. I created a commercial program, a handful of games for my kids, and Sam and I programmed a complex, personalized piece of standalone software that organized every facet of our church congregation.

Then HyperCard died and left my hard-fought skill to collect dust.

My first home business, FastLane Technology, focused on desktop publishing for numerous clients. I  invested in and knew every detail of QuarkXPress. After a few years desktop publishing became accessible to almost everyone and Quark fell out of favor (although it seems to wobble back and forth every few years now) and I learned FrameMaker (which died on the Mac side) and InDesign.

In my accounting work, I learned to use Quickbooks for Mac to manage general bookkeeping, payroll, inventory, and taxes — only to have Intuit stop supporting the Mac software (which, again has bobbled in and out in various configurations since), so I “upgraded” to MYOB, which later became AccountEdge.

My web work started with learning HTML and hand coding and then moved to GoLive. When Adobe dumped GoLive in favor of Dreamweaver, I switched platforms. Soon after content management systems (CMSs) became the rage and WordPress became the platform of choice.

And what about parenting? The minute you understand your newborn, they are crawling all over the house. When you figure out your toddler, they aren’t one. And when you figure out your teenager — um, never mind!

Just like the blacksmith, the furrier, the cobbler, and the butler, being successful in life and business often reinvent ourselves, learn new skills, and adapt to the current situation. Knowing our limitations and being able to let go or roles, methods, and plans that no longer work for us is a huge first step.

Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Fehmeen - Management Mafia March 28, 2013, 12:51 pm

    I think another universal limitation is that of our physical health, and that is often something people ignore because they are unwilling to accept it. Our bodies reach peak performance at 25 years (we can last longer without sleep, exercise more, digest tons of food easily, etc.) and after stagnating for a decade or so, things start going downhill. But people resist this change and often ignore the signs their body gives them, and that’s harmful in the long run.

    Great post 🙂

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