Argue for Your Limitations

“Argue for your limitations, and surely they’re yours.” –Richard Bach

It’s funny isn’t it? How we talk about certain things are “just not possible?” We don’t have to say, “No” or “I won’t.” We can prove it. We can prove that certain things are just not possible.debate 2

Coach: So why didn’t you get that report in on time?

Client: I couldn’t.

Coach: You couldn’t?

Client: No. It was impossible.

Coach: If you had been 100% committed, then what would you have done?

Client: I would have done the same thing. I had no choice. My boss came in at 10am and asked me to do something else. My kids got sick. My wife got called in to work.

Coach: Wow; that’s a lot.
I’m just wondering – if you knew it would make the biggest difference in your life and you were going to do it no matter what, what would you have done differently?

Client: Nothing. I mean what am I supposed to do? My wife gets mad if I try to get a babysitter for the kids. And my boss has unreasonable demands. We are understaffed. And there was an accident on the freeway.


I’m guessing you are having one of two basic reactions to this dialogue. You may be saying, “Lay off, Coach, this guy’s got it rough. It was impossible to get the report in on time. Stop bugging him.”

Or perhaps you can see the energy he is putting into proving that getting the report in on time was in fact impossible. This blog is found in a series on language and how we use it to limit ourselves and how we can use it to empower ourselves.Sisyphus-Image-01C

When you limit yourself in this way, you are showing that yes it is impossible. You have guaranteed it is impossible. You are pretty much staking your reputation on it being impossible. In other words, whether it was or was not possible, it surely is not now. Humans are powerful. When you declare a thing impossible, then it is.

So what is the alternative when all these things seem to be lining up against you? There are several answers to this. But the first is a mindset change. Be open. Be open to possibilities. Be open to the possibility that there is something you are not seeing. A way to do it that has not yet occurred to you. Be curious. Be ferociously curious, rabidly curious. Do not stop looking for a different way. Believe that there is another way. Know that there is always something you are not seeing.

And in keeping with the language theme of these blog posts, change your language. Do not argue that it is impossible. Argue that it is possible, but you have not yet figured it out. Say things like, “Hmmm, I wonder what I am missing here?” “I wonder what I could have done differently?” “What if I talk to my wife or my boss or my kids and get their perspective?” Asking open-ended questions will support you in finding answers.

Do not argue for your limitations.

possibilityArgue for possibility.

About the Author

Picture of Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching professionals and leaders since early 2008. She runs Transformative Coaching Essentials, a coach training program that produces first rate Professional Coaches and "Coach-Style Leaders." She coaches individually and works with organizations to improve communication, time management, productivity and ultimately bring greater results.

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