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A-Ha Moments

Four ways that myths limit our individual and corporate potential

Written by: Bill Sherman on Monday, 15 May 2006, 6:45 PM

Although we use stories to describe our individual and corporate capabilities, we need to make sure that they remain fresh. Otherwise, these very stories can decay into myths that only describe “what we were.” Myths affect us in four unhealthy ways:

  • Narrow our perspectiveWhen people and companies become successful, they are eager to talk about their success stories. However, these stories create a comfort zone. Over time, these stories can narrow their willingness to recognize opportunities outside of that comfort zone.
  • Erode our confidence–We sometimes recognize opportunities, but think that we won’t be able to act upon them. So, myths can not only limit our ability to perceive opportunities, they can become obstacles to an aha-moment that changes our behavior. When we become trapped in our myths, we limit our potential. “That’s not my specialty. I can’t do that.” It’s always good to know your own limits (and stay within them). However, when we fall victim to myths, we consciously avoid risks that would draw us anywhere beyond our narrow comfort zone.
  • Promote stagnancy–We become comfortable telling myths about ourselves and our companies. We willingly continue to tell these myths to our colleagues, our clients and the whole marketplace. Meanwhile, the world continues to change. Our once-fresh solutions lose their relevance to clients, but we blissfully continue to tell our myths.
  • Limit how others see us–We may become so successful telling our myths that others refuse to think about us any other way. Individuals may be passed-over for projects or roles. Companies that suffer from myths may have difficulty persuading clients to allow them into new projects away from their core myth. Companies may even find difficulty translating their past successes into new markets and segments.

If you want to locate more aha-moments in your life, you must become sensitive to the stories that you tell about yourself and your company. Ask yourself–Is this story still true and relevant? Has it become a myth?

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