When You Don't Know You Can't

What occurs to me today is nothing new, but it is vitally important.

It has been spoken about by many wise and knowing people from Albert Einstein to Henry Ford.  Psychologists are fascinated.  Neuroscientists seek explanations.  And all because the implications are significant.

Years of research gives a single lesson

Don’t downgrade.

That is, don’t downgrade your thinking.

Or put another way, don’t impose personal mental limits.

When you want to achieve something new or important, an open mind that’s open to possibilities is essential.

Nobody has ever achieved anything outstanding by imposing mental limits.  Somehow people fool themselves into believing they can declare a victory if their goal isn’t quite so challenging.  They listen to others who utter “that’s not possible”, or perhaps “no-one has ever done that” and they start downgrading their goal.

Then there's something greater at play

Goals – whether personal or business – are achieved through action.  And yet there is something greater at play… motive and means - the “why” and “how” of every goal.

In a neuroscience goal hierarchy study researchers Spunt, Falk and Liebermann found asking a “how” question lit up the left brain circuitry, whilst a “why” thinking question engaged the right brain circuitry.

These finding are significant when you want to achieve anything because goals need whole brain involvement to be achieved.

I didn't know I couldn't 

But, I didn’t know any of this goal getting theory when against all the odds I starting achieving things.  When I was making more money from a little hobby business than my full time job I remember everything I did was experimental.

When I became the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the coast of Great Britain no-one had ever documented it before – another experiment.

And when I embarked upon a massive business contract to solve a problem other consultants couldn’t solve I succeeded because I had no mental limit.

There were no preconceptions.  I didn’t know I couldn’t, so I just did.

These five steps can help

In our businesses when we are setting far reaching goals and strategies these five steps work well:

  1. Decide why
  2. Get clear
  3. Make plans
  4. Ask how
  5. Take action

When all the odds seem to be against you remember these two words, “you can”  Or in the words of psychology pioneer William James “wake up!”.  He wrote that we are only half awake and we are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources.

Ask this question...

When I’m working with people who want more from their business I ask myself “why isn’t this business performing in the same way as their competitors?”

I’ve found the answer isn’t in buying more software, spending more on PPC, Adwords or Facebook advertising.  Neither does the answer lie in more Instagram posts, or more time spent on Twitter.  And neither is the answer found in more technical training to become even better at what they do.  The business answer is always found neatly tucked away in a body.

More specifically, the reason for poor business performance is found in a mental limit of the business owner, directors or employees.  The single mental downgrading flaw is responsible for thousands of pounds of lost revenue.

My “onlooker sees most” perspective gives the opportunity to show where upgrading exists and how to take a business to its zenith.