Limitation is not a concept we easily think about. I am not referring to limits such as not having enough money to buy a flat screen TV. Or the amount of time that we can take for vacation.
When I use the term limitation, I am describing something inherent to the object we use in a situation where its usefulness abruptly ends. It does not degrade but abruptly ends. We have a real hard time seeing the boundary of where something stops being useful.
A hammer provides a good analogy for what I am trying to describe. Powerful as an extension of our arm. Able to help nail things together such as chairs, floors, walls, and tables made primarily of wood. Small hammers or large hammers available to accomplish many things. We know exactly when to use or need a hammer.
But stop to think about needing to now use a screw. Our mind has been trained to not think of using a hammer. A child would look at a screw and say it’s the same size as a nail. It does many of the things that a nail can do. “Why not use a hammer, they ask?” You would reply ” we might be able to use it if we are using it with wood”.
You see a small change from a nail to a screw that needs to secure objects made of metal abruptly ends the usefulness of a hammer. Its inherent power becomes irrelevant.
Hammers, nails, screws, wood and metal objects make up a great part of our life. Situations change what is needed. Sometimes we are faced with nails and other times screws while always carrying our hammer. Metal objects also change what we might have done with objects of wood.
We tend to focus on the tool and not enough on what we are trying to use it for — a nail or a screw? In wood or in metal?
Consultants, mentors, friends all have limitations where their useful knowledge abruptly ends. It takes some skill to decide when someone’s recommendations borders on the abrupt end of their experience. What we are facing and what they suggest is no longer useful.
The same holds true for us. There comes a time where our skills, knowledge, and world view’s usefulness abruptly end given the situation and the things we are now involved in. The skill we have, much like a hammer, no longer is a tool that is helpful.
Knowing how to use a hammer is good. Knowing when to change and look for a screwdriver becomes important. Becoming aware of abrupt ends can be most useful when trying to find leverage in our lives.
The challenge for us is to begin to recognize our own abrupt ends, giving us the opportunity to reach out to others for help and new learning so that we may continue to evolve and become more effective.