What size fish tank do you swim in?

I love seeing how people come across my website – referring sites, links, and my personal favourite, google searches. Today someone googled “breaking your limit to greatness”. What an awesome term. How do you break your limit to greatness? Perhaps I covered some of the limitations here, but I am reminded of a story that really resonated with me sometime back and I thought I might share it with you. (I might get some of the details wrong, but hopefully you will get the jist)

 A man was walking along the street and he saw a sign asking “What type of leader are you?” and next to the sign were 5 fish tanks. All of varying sizes, each with a shark in it. Each of the shark where also of various sizes. Curious, the man went into the shop and asked “What are you selling, I am a bit confused, you have a sign for leadership but then you have all of these fish tanks?” The shop attendant smiled, “We are selling leadership programs.” The man still looked confused, “I see, but why all of the fish tanks?” Again the shop attendant smiled “These are all sharks, they will only grow to the size of the area around them. The smaller the fish tank the smaller the shark, the larger the fish tank, the larger the shark.” The man scratched his head, “But what does that have to do with leadership?” he asked.

“We are all limited by our surroundings, we can only grow as big as our environment allows us to. In the case of the shark, this is the fish tank, for us as people this can be the organisation we work with, the people we associate with, the ideals of our society. They all create our boundaries, the things that can limit us. For leaders, we ask them to define the type of fish tank they want to swim in.”

Whether we apply the story to leaders in an organisation or to ourselves as leaders of our own lives, the same rules apply. How we break the limits to our greatness first start within, and what limits we place on ourselves. Over time, we may recognise that our environment or surroundings can also limit us so we can start to look for ways to find a more suitable “fish tank”. It may mean changing jobs, finding new hobbies, different people to hang out with or it could be appreciating the existing things already in your life that support you and your dreams.

My fish tank is the ocean

Unlike the sharks, we have some degree of choice. We can chose to stay or change, we can decide what works for us and what doesn’t. So is your fish tank working for you right now? Or could you maybe move into deeper waters?  Got any other stories about breaking the limits, I would love to hear them (I love a good story) drop them in the comments below.


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