As promised from last week’s article, I’ll let you know the tips that went with the 30 Circles Test.
You can check out last week’s article here:
One of the things the creator of the test, Bob McKim, found was that a lot of people would draw something, like a smiley face, and then consider that was the only facial expression they could use on the test, and struggle to figure out as many varied concepts to fill in the circles as possible. To complete the task effectively, you could do as many versions of the same theme as you liked.
There was never any rule that stated you couldn’t draw as many facial expressions in the circles as you liked to exhaust that possibility, it’s just a self imposed restriction that many people take on of their own accord. This leads me to the topic for today’s article; self-imposed limitations and how to overcome them.
Limitations are mostly in our head, we’re the ones placing them on ourselves, and there’s often no need to do so. I’m currently researching for a book I’m writing about how we have capacities well beyond our current spectrum. Unfortunately, it’s often only when we’re pushed to extreme challenges in life that we become aware of our extraordinary abilities.
Through my research, I’m finding that people who have faced incredible challenges seem to come through with a level of self-assurance and humility that is only achieved after life has stripped away a lot of the superfluous, egocentric aspects of our character. The other thing I’m finding is that these people take more risks and tend to be more successful in whatever area of life they focus on. Because they’ve been slammed by life before, they don’t fear it as much as those who don’t know what it’s like to hit rock bottom.
So, how do you get that level of self-assurance to take risks and push yourself way out of your comfort zone if life hasn’t already done it for you? A few articles ago, I referenced a TED talk by Matt Cutts on trying something new for 30 days. This is one way that I’ve found extremely successful for pushing me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to realize that I can do all sorts of things I wouldn’t have imagined possible.
There’s another technique worth doing as well. List all the challenging experiences you’ve had in you life. Then look down the list and take notes of how much you learned from them. Give yourself credit for whatever you did to handle those challenges. Then write as many benefits as you can that resulted from your challenging experiences.
When I wrote my first book, this was an exercise I did during the content creating process. It draws out the stories that we all have hidden inside of us that have shaped our lives.
I was amazed to remember that when I was just 14 years old, I rode in a 160km horse race that started at 3 o’clock in the morning and I rode until around 7:30 that evening when I crossed the finish line. I did this with no training at all. I had returned home from boarding school for holidays and off I went.
It wasn’t until I reflected on that experience that I realized how insane that really was and what an accomplishment it was. I can’t even imagine having the mental or physical stamina to do that now! But I know if for some weird reason I had to, I could.
When you do this exercise and list your life’s major challenges, it will shift your perceptions on how capable you really are. You will know you can handle life’s challenges because you’ve done so before and come through them. By listing the benefits of the challenging experiences, you will get a stronger sense of gratitude for having them.
The result of completing the exercise is you increase your self-assurance, and this in turn will affect how well you handle risk taking and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Both of these things are key elements if you want to be successful in any area of life.
Don’t forget humility though. It’s a hollow victory without it, because humility is one of the greatest gifts in relationships. Your relationships make the world work for you, more so than anything else, in business and in social life.
Humility and vulnerability are the cornerstones of human connection, both of them surface when you’ve been through incredible challenges. They can be sacrificed if you become hardened by life. With self assurance, the key to keeping your humility and vulnerability intact is feeling gratitude for the people and events that shaped you through life’s struggles.
I hope you find those hidden gifts and bring them to the surface to raise your self assurance and increase your awareness of how capable you are. Good luck!