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Working To Our Limitations

This might sound counterintuitive, but I suspect there might be an advantage to working to our limitations when considering the efficiency and energy expenditure of our endeavours. It also allows us to refocus efforts to more beneficial and relevant projects that better align with our goals and intentions. We often talk about strengths, capability, and potential, but what happens if we instead focused on limitations? If we acknowledged that there are somethings we won't be good at, or that someone else has a more appropriate skillset, then is there a benefit to this process? What effect would this have on our current situation? Whilst normally viewed as a restriction, now we might find that there is freedom in saying this actually isn't the priority I should be focusing on. I need to reach out.

It makes sense in certain circumstances where as part of a team you would allocate tasks to people who have more specialised skills to complete these. In working to your own limitations, you are working to others strengths and therefore the opposite would be true. To be clear, limitations can reflect skills, knowledge, ability but also time and resources become important considerations in this. Working to limitations might reflect that we seek the appropriate assistance earlier in the process, and recognise that our own efforts alone might be in vain or that the gains are too small to quantify for the required commitment.

There are and will be tasks that we complete ourselves where we are working to those limitations and will compromise the outcome through doing so. Yes, there is knowledge to be gained however the alignment of these tasks will also highlight their relevance in relation to our situation. An example might be where I can complete a home renovation project (such as tiling a bathroom). Through basic skills and understanding a satisfactory result might come about that "saves" time and money however a skilled professional will be able to complete this to a much higher standard. The determinant of success in this instance is whether the satisfactory outcome is sufficient to meet the criteria of completion. In some instances, remedial work will be required due to these limitations or other complications might ensue. This can also link to an overall view of projects and tasks to see if this effort is better placed elsewhere. The working to a limitation acknowledges that this is a one off task and not necessarily an area to look for continued improvement through industry training or progression. In essence, we can't do everything therefore working to limitations allows us to better recognise which tasks have the best alignment to providing the best outcomes.

Working to limitations can potentially have a connotation of weakness associated with it. Essentially, if we are working to our strengths, this is a good thing then the opposite acknowledgement must be that we have weaknesses. We could reframe these as "not yet developed" or "future potential" but we also need to have an honest assessment of whether these are relevant to us. It becomes overwhelming to imagine that there are so many things in our future potential that the result is that we dilute this pool with lack of direction or acknowledgement in this instance. If we consider that we have a speciality and an alignment to particular tasks and projects, then we are both working to our strengths and to our limitations. There is no shame in recognising that the skills we have for a particular task might not be adequate, and that this does lead to the evaluation of whether it is right or useful for us to gain those skills or work on the expertise of others.

We might also have bias that affects our perception of strength in particular areas (the Dunning-Kruger effect continues to demonstrate this) that wouldn't be present in the same way if we focused on limitations. It is common to overstate strengths, and it might be accurate that we do have strengths in particular areas that are balanced with limitations. We are consistently evaluating our outcomes, and the measure of how well we can state our own skills might not in reality match up to where we currently sit. It is also important to consider if the limitations are simply a ceiling to break through, and that more time and energy will allow our capability to extend in this area. This does require the opportunity to step back and evaluate the benefits of the task at hand to determine the alignment of these. We are then not working from a position of believing that we have the necessary skills and can find the correct course of action to rectify this.

Potential is often undefined, and our expectations of what this could include are misguided. Limitations are often much clearer although does need the understanding of what lies beyond. This acknowledgement then determines whether that potential is within reach or not a worthy pursuit in that it doesn't provide a meaningful value or contribution to your current situation. Limitations are likely to give us better insight into understanding choice and making the decisions that best align with this.

And finally, I acknowledge the limitations of this particular argument. Limitations are not necessarily restrictions, but might be providing enough resistance that we should listen and acknowledge the corresponding course of action.


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