We are all subject to boundaries of many types—geographic boundaries, legal boundaries, various rules and regulations, and the boundaries of good taste. All of these are essential to a well-functioning society. There are other boundaries, though, that are not essential, nor even useful. Many of these are self-imposed.
Think, for a moment, about personal boundaries you have erected for yourself. Do they help or hinder you? Do they have a positive effect, or are they limiting? Sometimes we see boundaries when they might not actually exist. These can easily occur around your career and professional performance.
For example, you listen to a colleague give a great presentation. You admire her poise and her ability to interact with the audience. You wish you could do that, but you know you aren’t comfortable with public speaking. At the same time, you know that getting your ideas out there is important for career advancement.
Or a new management position has just been announced at your office. According to the job description, you meet all the required qualifications, but you are not certain you could actually move into management. You decide not to apply.
Or there is a leadership training institute you have looked at several times. It would be exciting to be a part of it. Every time the enrollment deadline comes around, you consider whether or not you might be an acceptable applicant. You aren’t sure you are leadership material.
These are all self-imposed boundaries. They create barriers to your professional growth and success. The next time you hear yourself say, “I couldn’t do that,” or, “I’m not good enough to …,” stop yourself mid-sentence. Think carefully about what you are saying and decide if it’s a real boundary, an actual impediment, or if it’s simply an excuse. If you are risk-averse, work on that area. If you are lacking a needed skill, figure out what you have to do to acquire it. But don’t let self-imposed boundaries imprison your career.