Can I make a confession? I hate limits. I pride myself in being someone who gets things done. Someone who can overcome ANY obstacle. I love to move fast and move forward.
I’m energized by possibilities. I’m inspired by ideas.
And I suspect you may find some of these same tendencies in yourself too.
To a degree, this comes with the territory of being a leader. Leaders inspire with hope. We see possibility. We keep people tethered to the vision. We’re the bridge between reality and possibility. We chart the way forward.
That’s why limits are so difficult for us to accept. We’re conditioned to see beyond limits.
This may be why the current season of leadership we find ourselves in is so draining and disorienting. The pandemic has put limits on us that are out of our control.
- Leading staff virtually.
- Mitigating the economic impact.
- Serving clients and congregants well as their needs change.
- Decision making with as many unknowns as there are certainties.
But I do believe that limits have a purpose, and a wise leader will pay attention to the limiting factors he or she faces.
3 Reasons Limits are NOT the Enemy
1) Not all possibilities are good. Not all ideas are sound.
If we’ve experienced momentum before, we can begin to believe that every idea will work and that no possibility is bad. We begin to believe we’re invincible and keep plowing forward as if we are.
Limits, if we pay attention to them, can help us slow down to evaluate and discern what is essential and necessary for this moment or season.
Pay attention if you hear yourself or your team say, “don’t worry…it will all work out.” There is a difference between faith and foolishness. Discernment is essential.
2) Ignoring limits hurts you and those you lead.
By the nature of our driven-ness, we are not comfortable with complacency. When we have not learned to manage our sense of urgency, we put the proverbial pedal to the metal and go all out.
When we do this, we leave disaster in our wake. Our health suffers. Our family suffers. Our teams and their families suffer. Every circle of our influence is impacted when we don’t recognize and respect limits.
Understanding what drives and motivates us as leaders is imperative because when we abuse limits we hurt others and ourselves. This is why you’ll hear me say again and again, “You must lead yourself well to lead others better.”
3) Limits give us perspective and prompt creativity.
When we are moving too fast, we don’t have time to observe the landscape and take note of what is around us. In a way, we have tunnel vision and we can miss other concerns that may need to be considered.
When we are limited by something – time, resources or some other unexpected roadblock – it forces us to pull back for a wider view. What are we missing? Is there another way? Do we need to slow down or go another route?
Used intentionally, limits may provide perspective that helps us see another way forward. They spark the type of creative problem solving that yields even greater possibilities.
In light of whatever limitations you’re facing today, consider this prayer from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. I hope you’ll be encouraged to keep leading well.
Keep leading well!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.