Curated Leadership for Today's World

Limitations or DElimitations? What's Holding You Back?

Posted on 25 March 2018

 Last week, I completed my final doctoral seminar, Empirical Research III. We covered everything from research questions and methodologies to coding data and interviewing techniques. The goal of earning a Ph.D. is to create one singular and unique piece of knowledge to enlighten humanity. We repeatedly heard the need for a finely tuned research problem and to keep our data collection “sleek”. My father, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, referred to this as the SIB-KIS principle, See It Big – Keep It Simple.

Once you've identified your research problem, concern, and questions, you must also recognize your limitations and delimitations. I am going to draw from the definitions included in our seminar presentations created and delivered by Dr. Kevin Gushiken.

 Limitations are what limited you in the process of doing your research and that you recognize may have affected the results of the research. It is typically something beyond our control, and we realize these design flaws.

Delimitations, are limitations that you are the researcher deliberately set in the study. In the case of doctoral research, it refers to how the project topic was deliberately narrowed or limited by you, the researcher. In other words, DEcisions made by the Researcher are the Delimitations and within our control. 

One of the supreme joys of working towards the completion of my doctoral degree in leadership has been the transferability of every concept I learn into my everyday life, and these two terms are no exception. Henry Ford has a great quote that summarizes the idea of self-imposed limitations, or delimitations, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”

In life, do we know the difference between a limitation and a delimitation? Often, I’ll hear someone lament about a lack of upward mobility or an unfulfilled dream. They’ll cite the source of their shortcoming as a limitation, but is it? Much of what we label as a limitation is a delimitation. All actions have consequences, some of the unintended. We make choices throughout our life journey and often underestimate the repercussions of our decisions..

We miss opportunities because of a deliberate action we took. That’s not a limitation, that’s a delimitation. The tremendous news is, the sooner you realize that you can push through barriers and create your preferred future, the sooner you can become DEtermined to break through those DElimitations.


You’ve heard it many times before, make sure your own worst enemy isn’t living between your ears. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, "Every person takes the limits of their field of vision for the limits of the world." This week, take an objective look at what's holding you back and determine if it's self-imposed or not. When you adjust your lens, you just might surprise yourself at how many previously unrecognized and colorful options are in your life.

Tracey and her Tremendous cohorts at Lancaster Bible College.

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1 comment

  • Pat: March 26, 2018

    Excellent book title. For those who are seeking to understand what’s going inside them will allowed them to see the issue that is holding them back. Love to have the book

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