Limitations sharpen focus on what’s important

I recall that as a young man, I was always dealing with what I perceived as limitations imposed on me by myself or others. It seemed to me others were simply creating obstacles even as I thought I could do anything I wanted to.

It took me a long time to gain an understanding and appreciation for what limitations really are. To be sure, they’re real, undeniable and even unchangeable limits we’ve placed on us by virtue of the fact we’re human.

When you think more about it, though, limits are only information. To some degree, that young man was right: Most anything the mind can conceive, man can achieve. The real question, then, is not can we, but should we?

Limitations have a purpose we need to understand and appreciate. Recognizing them gives us the ability to focus, see values correctly and develop measurements that guide us. Being able to focus allows us to be productive, purposeful, efficient and meaningful in the use of our limited and valuable resources. Even the most wealthy and powerful face limited resources. Time is certainly one of the most valuable. Once time is squandered, it’s gone.

So, on what should we spend such a valuable resource? The world is a very big place with endless attractions or distractions, isn’t it?

There are many paths to walk. We must choose which ones to follow. There are a few paths that lead to worthwhile destinations. There are many paths that are only dead ends. It can be fun and even adventurous to explore some of those paths. But at the end of the day, dead ends offer nothing to show for the effort. Most would agree that would be waste.

I read a story the other day about a ship and its crew that set out on a voyage around the world.

The crew had not been at sea very long when the world became a very chaotic and dangerous place. The waves, wind and rain became enraged to such a point the crew was in danger of perishing. They came face to face with an absolute limitation: They could not control the sea.

So what could they do to survive? Recognizing what they could not do led to the realization of what they could do: They could control the ship’s response to the violent realities with which they were faced. Doing so skillfully enabled them to ultimately reach their destination safely.

William Tiefenback
William Tiefenback

As people recognize their emotional, mental, physical and spiritual limitations, they can adjust their course accordingly. In that respect, limitations protect us.

Another thing to consider is the fact that what is a limitation today might not be tomorrow. In fact, it could be an asset. So much of success depends on timing, on being at the right place at the right time.

And there’s the law of dependency: Some things only work when completed in the correct order.

How does this information apply to business? Knowing what we can and can’t do — as well as what’s actually worth doing — enables us to direct our energy in  intelligent and value-driven ways.

William Tiefenback is a small business growth strategist and growth coach in Grand Junction. Reach him through the Web site at