Shots of Wit

A regular posting of witticisms, aphorisms, and general musings by Clifford Cohen.

Accepting limitations…

The only way we achieve our greatest potential is by accepting our limitations, not by not accepting our limitations.

Back Story

I know this sounds heretical in a world in which every person is expected to “rise above” and “conquer” their limitations to achieve unheard of things, but I believe that it is better to know your limits and then decide how, with those limits, you can achieve something entirely unique that is both fulfilling and meaningful. If you find yourself saying that you must “overcome” this or that limitation, so that you can compete on a universally recognized playing field, try radically accepting that you cannot, and should not, attempt to do so. Instead, ask yourself what your larger interest is in the goal you have chosen. Then, work with your limitations to achieve that larger purpose in a novel way. Such thinking flies in the face of everything we hold dear in our “can-do” culture, but I believe that thinking about one’s limitations in this way offers a better strategy for addressing the challenges we sometimes encounter in life. I also believe it better reflects what actually occurs in the world. I can make the case that heroes who are credited with surmounting incredible odds to achieve great things did not succeed by ignoring and overcoming their limitations, but by doing just the opposite.

To those who would ask, “How can you know if you can overcome a limitation unless you try?”, I would suggest that the concept of overcoming a limitation is itself a misnomer. If you can’t do something today, but you can do it tomorrow after exerting some effort, you were not limited in your ability to do that thing. You merely had not developed your skills sufficiently to perform the action in question. A limitation is a limitation. That is, it is something that fundamentally prevents you from achieving a specific goal. If you think you can “overcome” something and it, in logic and in reality, cannot be overcome given the circumstances of your situation, you are wasting your time. Better to do an “end run” around the issue and assert a new reality based on the logic of the context in which you find yourself.

Back to list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.