Limitations

“A man’s got to know his limitations.” (Source: Magnum Force, spoken by Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan)

I am not going to win any kind of Olympic contest during my life time. Age and capability are concrete evidence at this juncture. Does this prove to those radical, positive-thinking gurus (of which I have been accused) that you can’t do everything? There are limitations.

There is a thing called reality. “Face the brutal facts!” advises Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great.  Not recognizing and ignoring these proven truths can be harmful. Where do we draw the line? How do we draw that line?

I do not want to limit what I really can accomplish in life, just because it is huge in scope or difficult. I also do not want to spin my wheels attempting an effort that will not be successful.  I now have a dilemma.

The truth, as I see it, is this: I do not always know my limitations. I may only discover this during the battle, hopefully not too late. I do not want to enter a five-year contest that will never be won, even if given 10 or 15 more years to complete. I want to discover the facts sooner rather than later. Does this sound right to you?

What is the key? Measurement.  We need to measure on a regular basis what we are currently striving to achieve.  Measure the important things in life, what we value most. Audit our significant goals.

A relatable example is in the process of a weight loss regimen. If we are trying to lose weight, we can figure quickly whether our plan is working. Get on the scales and weigh. If we do not lose a single pound after a couple of weeks, then it is likely that our plan is not working. We need to modify it or find a new strategy. Ending a two-week failing investment is certainly better than a five-year plan that never works. Does it make sense to measure?  Is there wisdom in using the evaluation to adjust and modify our actions so that we can achieve the desired results?

Two weeks is not a problem. It becomes an issue if we wake up after 10, 20 or even 30 years of something not working. Unfortunately, that does happen. We all have witnessed such a scenario. Sadly, this may somewhat define our own example.

Think about important areas that could go wrong: careers, relationships, financial status and spiritual growth. All of us know someone, who after enduring many years of effort that ended in numerous failures, finally realized that something major was not working. Perhaps, one of these categories matches something in your own life. What can you do? How can you help others who are slowly moving toward an unsuccessful end? How can you help your own self?

Any meaningful objective is worth measuring. Any effort that involves a significant financial investment is worth measuring.  Any major goal that will take a long time to achieve is worth measuring.  Yet, we often invest major money or time in something significant, but with little regard for the results.  And the sad thing is that the results may be visible – right in front of us. We failed to look at the evidence. Is this familiar?

You may have heard this old carpenter’s mantra: “Measure twice and cut once.” The purpose is not to waste any wood in making the wrong cut.  Additional materials add to the cost of the project. Time is also a cost factor.  The loss in a DIY project (do it yourself) at home may only be a few dollars and an extra hour of time.

What if that project represents the life of a close friend or family member? What if our own lives were at stake? What additional cost is reasonably acceptable? At what point do we change course or modify our approach? When does it become too late?

Do not worry about your limitations. Do not limit your belief in what you are capable of accomplishing. Dream big! Dream often. Act on your dreams.  Measure your progress.

Measure everything.  Measure often. Review daily. Adjust as needed. Stop doing things that do not work. Keep doing things that work. As you make progress, invest more time and money in what works.  Determine to eliminate spending money and time spent in things that do not work.

Today, take three minutes to measure something very important in your life.

How is it working? Do you need to cancel, modify or continue what you are doing? It is helpful to record in writing what you see and what you will do with what you see. Create a file, notebook or journal for storing your revelations as they occur. Repeat this every single day of the rest of your life.

Today . . . I measure so that I will become the person I am meant to be.