Two years ago, I was discussing with a company’s Chief Marketing Officer concerning a new project his company wanted to embark on. This project was the first of its kind. After listening to my client, I exclaimed, “This is a very beautiful project, which will positively affect the lives of many people across Africa only if you and your team really believe in it and decide to conquer your fears”. After that discussion, the HR Director decided to start a coaching session on Emotional Intelligence to prepare the CMO and his team to “face their giant.”

With their permission, here are the comments some team members shared during our coaching sessions, “We are a very small company. We have just begun…, we don’t have a lot of experience.” “We are 5 years old. How could people believe in us?” “There are giants in this industry and they are well respected. They have made their mark already. We are afraid we will not make an impact.” “What if the project doesn’t work?  We feel inadequate before this project and don’t have what it takes…”

Insecurity, fear of failure, worry, anxiety, inadequacy, lack of self-confidence, concern, lack of team spirit, and perfectionism were the negative emotions working against this beautiful team which was loaded with greatness and untapped potential.

As I engaged the team, suddenly a beautiful light sparked from the youngest lady on the team in the presence of her CMO “We need to take the limits off and take off. We are well able.” From that “eureka statement” made by that young woman, have come many great things this team was and is able to do.

Let us talk about taking off our limits by confronting our negative emotions and how to take off in challenging situations.

Take off our limits: In our case study, the limits of the company came from how the team members perceived themselves instead of seeing the potential in them. Our limits can come from our unhealthy self-esteem, our upbringing, our environment, our bad experiences in life, and others. These limits can prevent many from achieving their full potential and becoming the best they are destined to be. I mentioned “full potential” because many people settle for less because of the limits they place on themselves.

As you read this article, can I suggest that you start writing down five things, which represent or have represented a limit for you over the years and have stopped you from growing and becoming valuable? After writing down these five things, what do you foresee happening in you and in your life if you decide to take off these limits? What specific actions are you going to take to signify that “you have really taken off?”

I enjoy sharing the story of Ben Carson. In his book “Think Big” (Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence), he narrates his life story and how he used to think that he was the dumbest kid in fifth grade till the day his mother who was not well-educated told him, “Bennie, you can do anything you want to do – only you can do it better”. He says, “All of the many lessons my mother taught me I can summarize into this maxim: “Always give your best.” This statement changed the mindset of the young boy who was usually with the bottom few in his class to become the first in his class. With the renewal of his mindset for resilience and excellence, Ben Carson became the first black neurosurgeon in medical history by successfully separating Siamese twins joined at the back of the head. It was successful because both boys survived.

Some ways to take off our limits include identifying the source of our fears and inadequacies and working at them effectively, also replacing our negative inward conversations with positive ones can also help to deal with our limits. We become what we repeatedly confess and tell ourselves. Another way is to increase our capacity by learning new things. Innovative ways of doing things increase our confidence and give us the courage to do more and move forward.

Another way to take off the limits is to do that thing we are afraid of. For example, being afraid of speaking in public can cost you a lot. One of the ways is to get at least a few opportunities to give a presentation and once that fear is conquered, we acquire that skill and it becomes an asset. The fear of speaking was a liability and a limitation and now has been taken off by courage, practice, and perseverance.

For our case study, after acquiring new skills and going through Emotional Intelligence and leadership training and coaching, the team was ready to take off. Here are some steps they took:

First, they created a mental picture of how successful they wanted their project to be, then they did a survey and it was amazing the response they got. From there they identified their niche market and even how to make their clients loyal and happy. Lastly, they became focused on their goals by creating a safe environment where creativity and emotions are intelligently expressed, and teamwork, and excellent customer service are rewarded. In conclusion, the project was selected as one of the best projects in that industry at the end of last year and won an award. Taking off your limits by changing your mindset and becoming the best you can by being excellent, can distinguish you. “Excellence always sells” (Earl Nightingale).

Patrick Abah-Dakou

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