Internet Self Improvement

Limited By Your Own Skills? 7 Ways To Hurdle Over Your Fears & Just Do It

Saikat Basu 16-05-2014

He is a dyslexic.


He dropped out of school at 16. He started a student magazine. No, he didn’t know anything about the print business. He then started a mail-order record company to run the magazine. From there, he went on to open a record shop and then a recording studio. Today, he has 200 companies in more than 30 countries. You can bet that Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson didn’t know too much or have the skillsets to run all the companies by himself.

You would win the bet. His secret? Probably, it can be summed up in one of his favorite sayings – “Screw it – just do it!”

That’s a mantra we could all use. Our limitations become our fears. Our fears stop us at the hurdles. But did you ever notice that “hurdle” is a noun as well as a verb? Here are seven tips to turn it and jump over your limitations.

Go With Your Strengths

Know your limitations

On a collaborative project, your weaknesses will be blotted out by someone else’s strengths. Your strengths will compensate for someone else’s weakness. If you are going at it alone, you can only build something new from a position of strength. With limited means, focusing on your weaknesses will not only waste time, but the lack of motivation will probably sap your energy.


The secret is to find your strengths and align them with what you are trying to create. Even a Larry Page needed a Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt to grow Google.

There are online tools find your personality types Top 8 Websites With Cool Free Personality Traits Tests Read More . For instance: The Jung Typology Test. Note of caution; I really don’t know how accurate they are. So, try some anonymous feedback 5 Websites for Self Improvement With Some Anonymous Feedback From Friends The web lends itself quite well to anonymity. Visit a blog and you can rant or rave without disclosing your identity. Anonymous feedback (or any feedback) if constructive is a great tool for betterment of... Read More for a twist.

Finding your strengths can be more intuitive especially if you are trying to uncover hidden professional skills. Ask your colleagues. Distill feedback and see what you are being praised for. Your work and the work you enjoy most is a hailing horn for your strengths.

Going with your strengths doesn’t mean that you forget about your weaknesses and stop improving. It means that you lead with your strengths and allow experience and time to improve your skills in other areas.


Get A Different Perspective

Perspective and self-improvement

Fear before starting something new is common to all of us. What sets one apart is the perspective we bring to it. A simple way to change your perspective over a project is to look at it with different eyeballs. This exercise also helps with creativity and imagination.

If you are a creative, go for creative meetups. Arranging meetups is easy with social media and online avenues like Meetups and CircleMe. Akshata talked about the value of listening to the right people when trying to build confidence and start your own business 5 Tips To Build Your Confidence When Founding An Online Business Now is a great time to start. Don’t let a lack of confidence stop you. Once you take the plunge, you'll be determined to do whatever it takes to make things work. Read More .

Twitter is also a great tool to search for mentors How To Use Twitter To Search For Mentors In Your Area Of Interest In the real world, a mentor is a wise teacher who supports and guides someone, and helps them maximize their potential. In the online world, you would be very lucky to find someone who will... Read More in your area of interest. Mentors and people with the right advice can show you workarounds and collaborative opportunities that could compensate for your lack of skills. This leads us to the next point.


Find The Next Best Thing

Quora -- Ask Questions

Look for alternate solutions and work around the limiting problems. If problems are common, solutions can be too. Finding the next best thing on the Web is easy. You can post a query on Quora or ask Reddit.

Let’s apply this thought to my love for blogging. To take it forward, starting a professional WordPress blog takes serious commitment. I am limited by my lack of coding skills and also by time. Searching the Web, asking my colleagues and the community gives me several solutions – I can use any of the alternate blogging tools Keep It Simple, Stupid: 7 No-Fuss Online Tools For The Lazy Blogger No complicated online setups. No plugin management. No hosting costs. If you're looking for a fast, easy, and free way to get started blogging, check out these platforms. Read More available today. I finally chose Squarespace which helps me balance all the requirements I need for a blog and vault over the lack of blog management skills.

If you feel limited by your design skills, search for design templates and work on them. If you feel limited by your coding skills but want to contribute to the Open Source movement 8 Ways to Help Open-Source Projects If You're Not a Coder We’ve covered why it’s important to contribute to open-source projects, but what if you’re not a coder? You don't have to learn how to program to help your favorite open-source projects. Many non-programmers volunteer some... Read More , you can still volunteer. The point is – there’s always the next best thing with which you can at least take the first step.


Build The Girders

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said – “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” But if you want to learn photography, you have to click them. To build a blog, you have to write that first post, then the second one, and then the third. Only you mother might read them, but that is all about “building the girders” before the project takes shape. Every personal project will have a core area where you can apply your limited skills. The stage will come when those skills won’t be enough anymore, but till then you have to continue and build.

We are in a startup culture. You can apply the same philosophies to your personal project. Fear to start something and fail at it is common trait of every entrepreneur. Persistence is another. Follow insightful startup stories on places like, Foundora, Does What, and Your Story (India specific). And yes, successful entrepreneurs discuss their skill hurdles and how they overcame them.

Go On A Learning Binge

Learning & Self-improvement

Learning closes the skills gap and helps you cross the bridge towards your goals.

Attend workshops, meetups, conferences. You could advertise online and try a “skill swap” i.e. teaching someone something you know while learning from them in exchange. Volunteering to work for free hides many learning opportunities. The Web is filled with elearning short courses. Try these educational search engines The Path Of Lifelong Learning - Three Educational Search Engines For Online Courses The path of learning is long and "costly". Perhaps, that's why we believe this too much and give up as soon as regular paychecks start hitting our accounts. But in today's age, staying skilled and... Read More to pick the needles from the haystacks. Keep learning.

Create A “Done” List

A Done List

When you are flailing at the windmills with a limited skill set, celebrating every small victory is a positive dose. There is some merit in the idea of a Done List versus a blah To-Do list. Or you could turn a stodgy to-do list into a Do – Doing – Done list. You can turn any to-do app that allows you to customize your lists into a “Done” list. Or just open a Word / Google document and create your own. I personally use Trello which is a simple but powerful productivity management system Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Does the name Joel Spolsky mean anything to you? If so, you’re going to want to read this post, because it showcases Spolsky’s latest and greatest project. And if not, you should know this is... Read More available for free. You can also look into iDoneThis which is free for personal use.

“Done” lists are energizing scorecards as it is a running diary of your big wins over small obstacles.

The Bannister Effect


Let me sum up this post with this common idea from motivational psychology. Before Roger Bannister came along, the 4-minute mile was thought to be an impossibility. He broke the record (it stood for only 46 days)and since then many have crashed through that “unbreakable” record.

Many allude to it as a result of positive thinking, but it came about because of minute planning, hard work, and focused training. It also came with determination after his failure in the 1952 Olympics. He wasn’t the best runner of his time. He used the one unique skill he had to finetune his running – his medical training.

We only have to clear the weeds in our minds with some of the same attitude. Step up to the starting blocks, run, stumble, and leap over the hurdles. Come back and tell us your unique take on how to overcome limited skills with the can-do spirit.

Image Credit: Perspective, Graduates throwing graduation hats, Road Sign (All Shutterstock), Jeff lasovski (Wikimedia Commons), Sabrina’s Stash (Flickr)

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  1. Rj
    May 19, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Thanks Saikat! Nice one.