Have you ever lost your voice on the morning of a speaking engagement?
Or missed a flight and had to cancel an important meeting?
Perhaps you are getting ready to go to concert only to realize the show was the night before?
Some would say it’s an accident. Others call it bad luck.
While on the surface, it can seem like a coincidence, on a deeper level these incidents are a sign of hitting an upper limit.
As Gay Hendricks describes in The Big Leap, we typically hit an upper limit when we’re trying to move to the next level. Whether it’s a promotion at work, expanding a business or taking the next step in a relationship, navigating this new territory stirs up our underlying fears. That in turn causes us to self-sabotage.
Have you ever noticed when things are going well – you’re in a great relationship, clients are flowing in, your eating well and exercising – and then, BAM! You get in an accident, get sick or it seems as though “the other shoe” drops. That’s the upper limit.
There are four main reasons that cause an upper limit problem:
Feeling like you’re not good enough – New opportunities can bring up thoughts such as What if I can’t do it?; What if I can’t deliver what I’ve promised?; What if I don’t meet the expectations?
Fear of leaving your tribe behind – When you’re taking a big leap into new territory, you may meet resistance from friends or family. Perhaps they tell you you’re changing or no longer what to spend time with you. When this happens, naturally we want to stay where we are. You hit an upper limit and hold yourself back.
New level, new devil – Have you ever turned down a job because it seems like it will be too much work?
Fear of outshining others – Perhaps you turn down an opportunity because you don’t want to outshine a sibling, parent or friend.
How to break through the upper limit
So what can you do to prevent hitting an upper limit?
1. Raise your awareness – Make a commitment to become aware of patterns that lead to upper limits. Behaviors like worrying, getting sick, breaking agreements or deflecting compliments are good indicators that you’re approaching an upper limit.
2. Shift old patterns – By raising your awareness of upper limit behaviors, you can identify the pattern and change course before you sabotage yourself.
3. Write a new story – When old patterns and fears creep up it’s time to flip the script. Instead of spiraling out of control, adopt a playful attitude towards yourself. Embrace a sense of wonder about what’s causing you to hit your upper limit.