Rediscovering My Limits

Well, it’s happened again.

I made it through eight whole days believing the lie, but today, I couldn’t do it.

Every year summer seems to do this to me. I start a new year with that feeling that I can do anything and everything. What do I mean? For starters, I start to assume that I can work and work without ever needing a break, ever. Then (since that was rational enough…) I add on the idea that following that up a solid day’s work with a few hours of school work at home at night is actually a sustainable plan. That’s logical, right?


I feel like I’ve been working pretty tirelessly (or so I told myself) to stay on top of things over the past two weeks. Most of the work I was putting in was on things I really enjoy working on and thinking about, things that really don’t feel like “work.” But even with circumstances as good as these, today was the day that reality set in: I have some definite limits.

At a distance, I can say the things you’re supposed to believe about that. Things like, “Everyone has their limits” and other ideas that are a lot easier to agree with in theory than in practice. That admission is a good thing, but it being good for me doesn’t make it any easier. After all, today was the first day I felt the scales tipping toward that feeling of being more overwhelmed with my to do list than I was excited about those big ideas.


I’m not sure what the percentages are, but I’m confident that although a portion of my desire to do things myself may be to serve others well, too much is motivated by pride that I can get things done the best way or fear that I might not be good enough to get it done. Because what would that mean? It sounds silly now, but I think I’ve thought that before.

It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t a result of who I work with. I work for a principal who is up for trying all sorts of new ideas and constantly works to meet the needs of students on our campus. The other assistant principals are a great group of leaders, and our campus leadership team is a cohesive group that continually goes above and beyond to help our students feel they are valued, capable learners.

All that is to say that this is not a circumstances problem. It’s a me problem.

I suspect it’s also a problem others encounter.

I think people are wired up so that we naturally compare ourselves to one another (I wrote about it a while back), and I feel that the most on the days where I feel my limits. I don’t like that feeling of falling short, not being good enough. Even if that feeling only lasts for a short time while pursuing a worthwhile, challenging goal, I don’t like it. Not one bit.

But it’s going to be there. Either that, or I’m going to begin to live too safely, which seems far worse to me. And if I really believe that people can grow and that people are worth relentlessly serving, then I have to continue forward. I have to acknowledge my limits.

If I’m honest, I probably want to be known as the guy who can just keep going. Maybe it’s holdover from being a distance runner in high school, but that’s one of the places where I feel my limits most now. I just don’t have the time to do everything that could be done at school and still be a good husband and dad. 

I don’t have a pithy way to end this blog with a short and easy solution, and I’m good with that. Anyone who experiences this sort of feeling knows it’s far more complicated than a “3 ways to get past limits” post would be able to offer. What I can offer is the assurance that if any of this resonates with you, you are not alone. Maybe that’s not much, but it’s helpful for me to know that I’m not the only one pushing to do my best only to feel like I fall short.