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Columnist Harvey Mackay says speed limits are for highways, not yourself.

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One day, the employees of a very unusual company arrived at their office and saw a big sign on the main door that said: "Yesterday, the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. We invite you to join the funeral in the large conference room."

At first, they felt sad for the death of one of their colleagues, but they were curious to know the identity of the person who hindered the growth of their colleagues and the company itself.

One by one, the intrigued employees approached the casket, and when they looked inside it, they suddenly became speechless. As they filed past to pay their respects, a shocked silence set in. There was a mirror inside the casket. Everyone who looked inside it could see themselves! A sign next to the mirror read: "There is only one person who is capable of setting limits to your growth, and it is YOU!"

What a wake-up call! And what a rallying cry for a company that was getting by, but certainly not flourishing. Management recognized the need to make big changes before it was too late.

Perhaps every organization wouldn't take such an extreme step, but that shouldn't stop you from examining your own progress. Are you limiting yourself? Are you setting goals and a vision for your life or just floundering through? Are you accepting your current situation or taking steps to change it? Do you focus on your shortcomings instead of your strengths?

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Don't settle for less than what you want or can achieve. Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs.

Cosmetics pioneer Mary Kay Ash said: "Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve."

Don't be afraid of difficulties, impossibilities and losses. It's the way you face life itself that makes the difference. Push the limits of what you think you are capable of.

Get rid of the thoughts that you can't do something, don't have time, aren't good enough or aren't smart enough. Don't limit yourself to your perceived shortcomings. Nothing will stop you faster than a defeatist attitude.

Start by setting goals that are significant, but achievable.

Improve your skills through continuous learning. You don't go to school once for a lifetime; you are in school all your life.

Optimism is critical to success. Optimists are people who make the best of it when they get the worst of it. I've discovered that it's just as easy to look for the good things in life as the bad.

When I am hiring -- especially for sales -- I seek out optimists. Why? A pessimist has no starter; an optimist has no brakes.

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Another skill I look for when interviewing potential employees is confidence. I'm not referring to hubris or arrogance, but to someone who understands their ability and is not afraid to use it. Confidence doesn't come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with it in their careers. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you're willing to work hard.

I draw inspiration from the poem "Thinking" by Walter D. Wintle, first published way back in 1905, but it's just as timely today for both women and men.

If you think you are beaten, you are.

If you think you dare not, you don't.

If you'd like to win, but think you can't,

It is almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;

For out in this world we find

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Success begins with a fellow's will

It's all in the state of the mind.

Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But sooner or later the man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can.

Mackay's Moral: Speed limits are for highways, not for your potential.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached at www.harveymackay.com , by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

Related Topics: HARVEY MACKAY
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