Boosters : Barriers and Boundaries

Often in coaching the topic of barriers will come up. Usually in relation to limiting beliefs (“I’m not good with numbers”, “Don’t come to me for creativity”) or challenging work situations that seem impossible to overcome.

We often impose our own barriers, tangible or otherwise, and often with good intention. Barriers and boundaries can keep us working within a specific scope (e.g. a role description), behave in a particular way (e.g. company or personal values) or operate in a predefined manner (e.g. processes or instructions). They can also be born from habit or what we believe to be true and these may or may not be helpful to us.

Are the barriers you have in place helping or hindering you?

I recently had a coaching conversation with a client and he talked about a self-imposed barrier around engaging with senior colleagues. (As in, he felt he couldn’t engage meaningfully with them).

He recognised that he had created these barriers but he also didn’t know how to remove them. Exploring this conundrum using barriers as a metaphor, he was able to work out a way forward. We used a series of questions but the two where the biggest shift was felt were these.

Two considerations to help you think differently

  1. Barriers prevent infiltration from either side. What is your barrier keeping in and what is it keeping out?
  2. Barriers are made of stuff. What stuff is your barrier made from? Concrete? Tracing paper?

What barriers or boundaries do you have in place? How are they helping or hindering you? How established are they? What possibilities could exist if they were no more? Take a moment to think about that. You might be surprised at what comes to mind.

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