A Fresh Look at Limits. They Do Not Have to Limit You! - Betty Streff
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A Fresh Look at Limits. They Do Not Have to Limit You!

A Fresh Look at Limits. They Do Not Have to Limit You!

“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.”Rumi


I’ve grown to love the pinball-like action that certain conversations trigger in my unruly jack rabbit brain. One cell lights up and then boom, another and another and pretty soon I’m thinking, “Aha! Looks like I’ve stumbled into another life lesson!” And suddenly, limits fall away and another obstructive stretch of brush gets cleared out of my head. I’ve just shot a little further down the path to becoming a better version of the person I was created to be! Then magically, even more new ideas pop up from thin air!  These new thoughts always pair nicely with the all the other things that inevitably show up in the most serendipitous ways. (Like on the sometimes creepy, sometimes awesome Internet.)


Two eye-opening conversations


Did the first paragraph leave you scratching your head or can you relate to light-bulb moments? Allow me to back up the truck.


Last night a dear friend (an incredible perpetual motion machine who accomplishes a week’s worth in a day) asked me how my writing and book are coming along. My very lame answer? “Oh, if only there were more hours in a day!” Like that will ever happen! She said she felt the same way. She’s  got a terrific concept for a book about the history of some Sandhills family ranches. We lamented the swiftness of our days and how we need to manage it all better, including getting enough sleep to stay healthy. Only 24 hours in a day? Limits constrain us.


Conversation two, earlier today. A gentleman stopped by the place I work. We got into a fascinating discussion about an old house he’d moved. It was built in 1916, long before the power tools we have today. He went on to describe the incredibly straight walls, the unique roof design that required no rain gutters, and the generally amazing condition of the home nearly a hundred years after it was built. He added details about his discovery of an ice house, hewn from the earth, close to the main residence. The first home owners harvested ice from a nearby lake, stored it in the ice house packed in sawdust and used it to keep their food cool in an ice box they built in that century-old home. No power tools? No refrigeration? Limits did not constrain them.


No limit thinking and the power of constraints


Another one of my favorite thought leaders is blogger James Clear. I always love his interesting takes on perplexing things like limits, for example. Here’s a snippet from a recent post.


“In 1960, two men made a bet.

There was only $50 on the line, but millions of people would feel the impact of this little wager.

The first man, Bennett Cerf, was the founder of the publishing firm, Random House. The second man was named Theo Geisel, but you probably know him as Dr. Seuss. Cerf proposed the bet and challenged that Dr. Seuss would not be able to write an entertaining children’s book using only 50 different words.

Dr. Seuss took the bet and won. The result was a little book called Green Eggs and Ham. Since publication, Green Eggs and Ham has sold more than 200 million copies, making it the most popular of Seuss’s works and one of the best-selling children’s books in history.” See, Seuss did not let limits constrain him!” 

 limited words


What constraints and limits really do to for us


Clear goes on to describe limits very simply. It’s the size of the canvas we’ve been given to paint the picture of our life. That’s it! I needed this reminder, maybe you do too. Limitations make us creative. I’ve always been in awe of the resourcefulness of folks in the remote Sandhills of Nebraska. They can’t run to Target at 11 PM so they figure out another way to do it!! I’ve never met such clever folks!


And, I will hold fast to the belief that a lack of anything makes us more innovative. Sometimes a financial shortage triggers ingenuity in a major way. Solutions are often found when our back is to the wall. There’s just something about being a little bit desperate that makes our thinking more focused and inventive. There are countless stories of folks who kept going and were wildly successful when the other guy gave up just a few feet from victory.


Want an extreme example of what can be accomplished when constraints are ignored? The Navy SEALS really embrace a no-limit approach with their motto, “Not Dead, Can’t Quit!” No wonder they are so tough!


When you feel limited, maybe you’re not!

wow look at that


OK, so you can’t work out every day for an hour like your friend does. Only have 20 minutes? Then make those 20 minutes count, give it your best for the time you DO have!


Can’t make a meal from scratch and have it on the table at 6:00 when you work til 5:00? Then make parts of it ahead or explore semi-homemade options like using rotisserie chicken and bagged salad for a quick and nutritious meal.


You can only squeeze fifteen minutes in your day to write? Then write every day for fifteen minutes– have a journal, a laptop or tablet ready the minute you are! Same goes for reading! Just 10 minutes a day will allow you to read about 10 pages. String 30 days together and you can read a book a month which is twelve times as many as the average person reads!


What do you want to accomplish? You can do less in a week than you might like to achieve, but I promise you can do infinitely more than you can imagine in a year of tiny, consistent actions. Give it five years and you can completely reinvent yourself! Drop by drop!


Like what you read today? I crave your comments and input! You might like my program The Daily Difference which is all about not allowing limitations to limit you! Questions? Email me at bjstreff@gmail.com. See you next week! Summer will be official next time we meet!


“Any action is good action; do what you can from where you are and build off of that action each day.”~ Mike Basevic


  • Gail

    When I was at St. Olaf , our music theory professor gave us an assignment to write a small 2-3 minute piece. We ALL came back with GARBAGE. The next week, we were assigned a piece in the style of Mozart. We ALL came back with very acceptable musical compositions. And he said (one lesson I wiil never forget) that creativity takes place when they are boundaries, limits. Thank you for re-emphasizing that limits …. aren’t limits.

    June 21, 2018 at 10:22 am
  • Barb Malm

    I love reading your thoughts… thank you for the reminders I need🙂

    June 22, 2018 at 6:16 am
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