Self Limitation & How to Break Free

“Completely overwhelmed, daunted and intimidated”. These are the words Kent Johns used to describe his initial feelings around some of the more administrative aspects of owning a business. Owning a business and being your own boss sounds like a dream but scary terms like ‘balance sheet’ and ‘net adjusted profit’ can make it feel like we are out of our depth or there is something we don’t know. The reality is that while for many finances are perhaps not the most engaging task. They are an extremely important part of running a successful business. If we are not balancing the books properly then we don’t have a job, we have a hobby. 

In 2019 Kent not only became a health coach but decided to start his own business. In doing so, he was bluntly confronted by the business world. While financial tracking and administration wasn’t Kent’s motivation for being a health coach, it didn’t mean he could pretend it doesn’t exist. A way in which Kent leaped this hurdle was the growth mindset, the belief that you can improve through effort and actions. Now that doesn’t sound very revolutionary ‘of course we can improve by doing things’ you might say. But truly take a second and ask yourself about your self limiting beliefs, how about, ‘oh I can’t go for a run because its raining and i’m not a morning person’. Maybe these statements make us feel better because of the external assignment of blame, this way it’s not our fault or responsibility because it’s out of our control.

Although many people like to think they are in a constant growth mindset, we are all fixed in our thinking in some areas. A fundamental flaw in this mindset is the application of a dualistic model of thought to complex and interrelated problems where there is usually no black and white answers.  Approaching life with non-dualism is advantageous as it makes space for the grey areas (which are everywhere) as the answer is almost always somewhere in-between the absolute extremes. Because we are only human, we compartmentalise information that we perceive in a way which makes sense to us and our view of the world.

Consequentially this often results in duality of though, seeing things as only right or wrong. Therefore, a growth mindset is an active decision that requires sustained effort to maintain. An acceptance that we actually don’t know some things, an investigation with genuine curiosity and a willingness to learn are ways to embody this philosophy. Once again this sounds like common sense, but it certainly takes a degree of humility to learn. In doing this we take ownership and responsibility for things we just aren’t great at which is just as important as owning what we are really good at.

So what’s the takeaway? Should I start getting up at 5am drinking kale smoothies and going to hot yoga? While some people do this, productivity is a byproduct of sustainability. In other words living your most productive day once is trivial if you can’t keep consistency. Habits really compound over time to have prodigious effects. As Kent put it “Do one thing everyday to advance your cause even on days you’re demotivated or overwhelmed”.  Does Kent now love the financial side and analysis of his business? No, he doesn’t. However, he takes accountability and has learnt through experience. Challenge yourself to identify an area of your thinking that is fixed. Hint, it usually starts with the phrase “I can’t because”.


“They who say they can and they who says they can’t are both usually right”


Chinese Philosopher

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