Do you impose your own limits?

I ask this question, because I've noticed in my own life that often things I unconsciously assume I can't do or goals I think I can't reach are really limits I've placed on myself.

I'll explain more about this in a minute.

What brought this topic to mind was an email I received last week.

It was from a local person asking that I take them off this email list. Usually when someone wants to unsubscribe, they just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of my email and it all happens automatically.

This person wrote me a long and passionate email detailing why she felt that she didn't need the information I have to offer; she didn't care whether her work sold or not and she felt she and I were going in different directions.


Her email reminded me of one of the reasons I started

When I left the illustration field to focus on fine art, I joined a couple local art organizations. After being a member of one in particular for some years, I couldn't help noticing that there were members who never seemed to get any better at their art.

Some of them had been doing art for many years and seemed content to never improve.

It astounded me.

I agree with personal growth guru T. Harv Ecker who compared humans with plants when he said, "If you're not growing, you're dying."
I started to offer my diverse experience in art to those people who do want to grow but maybe haven't found the kind of instruction that will motivate and inspire them.

I firmly believe that you have much more creativity, imagination and artistic potential than you give yourself credit for.

But I also believe that providing inspiration and motivation isn't always enough. Many of us, maybe even most of us, operate within our own subconsciously imposed limits.

Author Gay Hendrickson calls this "The Upper Limit Problem" in his book, The Big Leap. As an executive coach he's found even some successful people will sometimes sabotage themselves, their business or their relationships when things get too good.

We develop limiting beliefs that prevent us from accomplishing all that we could.

I've found this has been true in my own life. Over the last ten years, my wife and I have found limiting beliefs we have been carrying around for most of our lives, and we've taken steps to get rid of them.

As one small example of what I'm talking about is a story I've mentioned before.

Most Sunday mornings I drive to Seattle to partake in a 3-hour figure drawing session. I've been doing this enjoyably for some years, but by last fall I was beginning to feel stale.

I'd lost my enthusiasm.

After some thought I realized that I was unconsciously assuming that I could only complete a simple drawing in the twenty-five minutes of each pose. I also realized that I needed to break out of that mindset and take more chances.

I needed to strive for a small complete painting of every pose.

When I drew with that mindset, I was surprised at how much I could accomplish in that time period. I started completing small pastel paintings of most poses and quite a few of them were keepers.

As a result, those twenty-five minutes gradually seem longer and longer, what I accomplish in that time is getting better and better and other people in the group are taking more and more notice of what I produce.

All because I finally recognized my own limiting belief and broke through it.

Best Wishes,

Gary Gumble
Founder of
Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. So my questions for you are these:

1. What limits are you imposing on yourself?

2. How good could you be in art or life if there were no limits on what you could accomplish?

HINT: You really have no limits except those you impose yourself.

So much of art and life is developing the self-confidence to believe in yourself.

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