There are no limits, there are only plateaus

bruce lee limits.jpg

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

~Bruce Lee

I’ve written again and again about different ways of looking at the way we limit ourselves. I’m passionate about this in the extreme, and in my work, I’ve narrowed my focus to only work with highly successful people who are already making a “dent in the universe” and yet have a real hunger to make an ever bigger impact.

We all have limits, conscious and unconscious. Part of my place in this world is to help people not only to go beyond their limits but also to realise that there truly are no limits.

Bruce Lee smashed through so many conventions, paradigms, limits. This quote, though, highlight something known to people and to business leaders looking to go beyond and outside their limits, as it talks about plateaus.

I use the analogy of competitive swimming. Almost all competitive swimmers start competing before the age of 10, so see steady progress in their personal best times for years and years… and then, as they progress towards the elite level, it is very common indeed for them to reach a plateau. Sometimes they can go months or even years without a “PR” (a personal record time), yet in the culture of swimming, this is understood that this is part of the process and to trust that process and you will ultimately go beyond where you are and go beyond those limits.

The greatest limits we face are those in our mind, not physical limits or constraints. Bruce Lee was an amazing living example of this.

Where we can recognise that a plateau is part of our growth process, a plateau will be a catapult for later growth as we will use that phase to build foundations to create ever stronger and faster growth when it ultimately comes.

For leaders in business, pay close attention to the Bruce Lee quote. Every business I have been a leader of, every client business I have worked with, they have all had plateau stages. Top leaders are those who have come to see such plateau phases as opportunities to build foundations for growth rather than challenges to hold them back.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, we are coming to what is, for many, a slow summer period in July and August. Will you see that plateau as a challenge, or as an opportunity to build a foundation for growth?

In your business, could you use a quieter time to focus on core foundational work, whether that be purpose or vision, or on process and structure? Personally, when you are busy perhaps you don’t create enough time and focus on your own personal growth, whether that be intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional. Rather than simply switch off on vacation, what about consciously choosing to invest in yourself this summer, as an example?

Could you be your own version of Bruce Lee? What would that look like for you?