How We Limit Ourselves

Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.Denis Waitley

I’ve attended a lot of trainings but very rarely do I walk away with practical takeaways that I think are worthwhile to pass along or apply to my life. In a recent training about having masterful conversations, the facilitator talked about the concept of mental models. A mental model is a framework that all of us have that is unique to how we think and interpret the world around us. It shapes how we behave and react. 

For example, if you apply for a job and your application is denied, your mental model will influence how you interpret the rejection. Do you perceive it as a personal slight with negative undertones, or do you conclude that maybe you weren't a good fit and the company probably did you a favor. In other words, maybe you’d be happier somewhere else. 

The specific example the facilitator gave was in terms of the old railroad barons and tycoons of the 18th century who built their wealth through the construction of the American railroad system. Although wildly successful in their day, those families no longer exist as they once did. His premise was that if they had considered themselves transportation barons instead of just railroad barons, their reign may have lasted the test of time and potentially still exist today. The mental model of what they were, limited them and stifled their ability to evolve. 

This point was pretty poignant for me; so much so that I really stopped listening to the next hour of the training. It made me wonder about what mental models we all have that limit our greatness. Someone that thinks of themselves as just a high performing employee may actually have the potential to lead a multi-million dollar company. A sedentary mother of four may actually have the potential to run marathons and become a formidable fitness guru. 

This revelation was a bit startling but empowering to hear it in the way it was framed. How many of us are limiting ourselves with our mental models? 

What’s your mental model for your life? What expectations do you have for  yourself? Is it time for a refresh? 


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