Freeing Yourself From Limits: What Every Leader Needs to Know Freeing Yourself From Limits: What Every Leader Needs to Know You are a leader. If you are reading this article, you are interested in the tools and techniques to achieve that which you truly desire and to motivate others towards the same. However, did you realize that you, being authentically you, and creating the life and business that you truly desire (no matter what anybody else thinks, says or does) is already being a leader! You don’t need followers to be a leader. It’s about making a demand of yourself and being the invitation for others. What if only you could stop you? Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept What makes a leader stand still? Preconceived ideas about change. It’s our preconceived ideas that stop us; our ideas about our roles and where we see ourselves fitting into the world and our businesses. The funny thing is, we are the ones who have defined what that world looks like; it’s not real! There was a time in my life when the technology company I was working for advertised for a Vice President (VP). With the open position, I was doing my Director role and I was already doing the work of the VP but I thought I wasn’t qualified to apply. Fortunately, a friend of mine got me to question all of my preconceived ideas about what it meant to me to hold that title and how that would fit into my preconceived ideas of what my life as a single mom was and what I could/couldn’t, should/shouldn’t be or do. I realized that I was already doing the work and that nothing more would be required of me than that which I would put into it anyway; which had been an unconscious fear stopping me from applying. Any definition that you have of yourself, whether good or bad, is limiting you. It puts you in a box that has a subheading, “Therefore, I can’t.” For example, “I am a single mom, therefore, I don’t have the time to be a VP”, etc. Fear of failure. The most paralytic emotion is fear. A common fear for leaders is fear of failure. It stops you from making choices, which leaves you standing still. Any fear, including the fear of failure, is a distraction; something that holds us back from our creativity and power – stops us from living the life we truly desire and from leading through invitation. So, what is failure? In my opinion, it’s not achieving your preconceived ideas! As I said above, these ‘ideas’ are just figments of your imagination, so failure is also not real. I once worked with an executive who liked to cycle to release his stress at work. He had a hard time climbing mountains, making him slower to finish his races. His preconceived ideas about his inability to easily climb mountains would intensify the effort, strain and stress. He had put the mountain in the category of being greater than himself and feared that climbing it could never be done easily. Once he realized his fear of failing the mountain was not real, he began to actually enjoy climbing it, and ended up finishing in the top one percent of all his races with and without steep mountain climbing. I have worked with many executives paralyzed by fear of making a choice, and it is literally killing them; they present with a range of symptoms from disturbed sleep to depression. Outlined, below, are three tools to free yourself from paralysis and move forward as the leader you truly are. Steps To Move Forward How do you identify yourself? Write a list of all the ways you define yourself; your role as a mom, employee, executive, wife, etc., your characteristics, like friendly, nice, assertive, go getter, etc., your background, such as being the eldest child, from a middle-class family, a graduate, your ethnicity, age, etc., and everything that would build up a profile of you. Now, let it all go. Don’t use it to define you anymore. You are you, in this moment. That is all. And, in the next moment, you can be anybody you choose to be. This presents you with a clean slate that you can proceed from. What fears do you think you have? Take a look at what is underneath the distraction of fear. Write down all your fears around being a leader and moving forward. For example, do you fear that you are not good enough or that your current lifestyle might change? Have you made something vital for success and what would be left if it doesn’t actually work? Perhaps there are specific tasks or positions you are avoiding? Write it all down. Now, let all that go. What if none of it actually meant anything? What if they were nothing more than mental alarms warning you that you are going off course and changing? Celebrate that! You want to create the life you desire; not stand still in the same-old, same-old. Imagine that ‘whack-a-mole’ arcade game. Each time a fear pops up; whack it on the head with a “Thank you for letting me know that I am creating the change I desire.” Make a choice and act on it. It’s our lack of decision-making that gets us stuck in the same situation over and over. But if you don’t choose, the choice will be made for you, because the world does not stand still. Any choice will do. Choice creates. And in that creation, you gain additional information, which will assist you to choose your next choice. So, to stop standing still and to move forward into greater success in all areas of life, let go of your preconceived ideas, go beyond your fears and actively and consciously choose the life you truly desire. Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock Laleh Alemzadeh-Hancock is a management consultant, Joy of Business facilitator, and founder and CEO of Belapemo and Global Wellness for All. A passionate change-agent, Laleh has empowered thousands of individuals including Fortune 500 executives, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, athletes and veterans to achieve optimal growth.