Self-limiting Beliefs ~ Part 2

Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right!In part 1, we established what Self-limiting Beliefs are, what causes them and how to identify your own, because we all have them. In this post, I will be focussing the most common self-limiting beliefs and how to start tackling them in your life.

It is extremely easy to let our self-limiting beliefs take over our lives or at least keep us from fulfilling our potential, especially when we’re going through a challenging period at work or in our relationships or if we’re feeling a little run-down, or all three!

Some people, who let their self-limiting beliefs take over their thinking for prolonged periods of time, can be significantly impacted by them and in some cases may even lead to mental health issues. Many people aren’t even aware that these beliefs exist, never mind that they can do anything about them; they believe that it’s just the way they are and therefore can’t find a way out. I’ve listed some of the most common self-limiting beliefs below. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Not being good enough ~ at something to everything

Most of us at some time or another have felt that we weren’t good enough. You need to believe that perfection simply doesn’t exist. There will always be someone who is faster, stronger, bigger, richer, younger, older than you. Stop comparing yourself to others. You never compare how much better you are, you look at how well THEY are doing. Focus on being the best you can be. Put all that energy you spend focussing on others on improving YOU.

By releasing yourself from the stress of perfection, you will be able to perform at the top of your skills.

Not being loved

Many people go through life trying to be who they think other people want them to be in order to win love and acceptance.

The most important person, however, is ourselves. It is far more important to totally love and accept ourselves exactly as we are. Once we can do that, we attract to us people who also love and accept themselves and they can then love and accept us exactly as we are. We don’t have to pretend to be something we are not to love ourselves and to be loved by others.

Fear of rejection

I love this quote by Bo Bennett and he articulates rejection much better than me – ‘It is not rejection itself that people fear, it is the possible consequences of rejection. Preparing to accept those consequences and viewing rejection as a learning experience that will bring you closer to success, will not only help you to conquer the fear of rejection, but help you to appreciate rejection itself. ‘

Fear of failure

Failure is often seen as unacceptable. We are encouraged to innovate but avoid “wasting” time or money. When we fail, we may be threatened or even punished by employers, spouses and parents. This negative experience can lead to a fear of failure, especially if this has been built up over many years. A low-level of fear can be inspiring, but a higher level of fear can become a full-blown phobia, limiting your potential. If you missed Six of the Best …. Failures take a look at some really big failures!

Feelings of being unattractive

These issues plague even the most admired, sought-after people in our society. Just because you feel ugly doesn’t mean you are or that others perceive you that way. They are just another self-limiting belief that plagues thousands of people every day.

The list above is in no way exhaustive. They all do relate to self-esteem in one way or another however. So how do we start to address self-limiting beliefs.

Tackling your Self-Limiting Beliefs

If you have read part 1 and tried out the steps of understanding what your self-limiting beliefs are, hopefully you will have begun to understand some areas for you to work on. If you haven’t, don’t worry, it may take some time to get to the root cause of some of your unhelpful beliefs. Some of the following steps will still help you along the way.

So, 3 easy ABC steps, well, easy to remember, a little bit harder to practice:

1 . AWARENESS –  Catch yourself when your inner dialogue is being unhelpful, hindering or downright horrible to you. Which of your self-limiting beliefs is your inner dialogue addressing?

2. BELIEF – You are good enough, you’re not a loser, you can lose weight if you want to, you can be a good public speaker, you can find a way around the problem. You just need to believe that you can. I’ll try to illustrate this with a well publicised example:

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister was the first man in history to run a sub four-minute mile, 3:59.6 to be precise. At the time it was said that the human heart/lung capacity combined with our muscular skeletal system made it an impossibility. Some said he might even die trying. Roger Bannister believed the four-minute barrier could be broken. He believed he could do it, even though he had never run a mile in under four minutes. The fact that he proved it could be done, started to have a major impact on the self-limiting beliefs of others. Six weeks later, an Australian runner broke Bannister’s record. Within a year more than 20 people had run sub four-minute miles. Today it is not uncommon for high school athletes and people in their 40’s to run the mile in under four minutes with the record over 15 seconds quicker than in 1954!  Belief has a BIG impact on the art of the possible.

So you need to have that belief that you can change your subconscious, your inner dialogue, before you move to the next step.

3. CHALLENGE – Really challenge your self-doubt. Find an example when you have been a success, felt attractive, did feel loved. With self-limiting beliefs we have a habit of filtering these moments out of our memories and therefore lives. If you can’t find an example, don’t worry. Challenge your inner dialogue by changing the internal words to something different. So for example:

From: Well you really messed that up! – To: What have I learnt from that and how can I do better next time?

From: You’ll never get that promotion! – To: What’s the next way that I can really prove that I’m up for a challenge?

From: I can’t speak in front of these people! – To: I really know and am passionate about my topic, I’m going to rehearse it every day before it happens, and I’m going to be confident!

If you challenge your negative inner dialogue quickly, and replace it with something more positive, you will start to feel better about yourself or the situation. Persevere! It does take practice, but it does help. Within a matter of weeks you will begin to notice a difference. Don’t forget that many of your limiting beliefs have been with you for years and you won’t fix them over night!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems, given to me by my late father on my 21st birthday. I just wish that I’d understood it fully at the time!

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will.

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But soon or late the man who wins,

Is the man who thinks he can.

~ C. W. Longenecker ~

If you enjoyed the post or have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you! Until next time…

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Six of the Best …. Failures

Following on from my last post Fail to Learn, Learn to Fail, I’ve done some research into some famous business people to see how rocky their road to success was. I was surprised by a few names and fascinated by others, so I thought I’d share some of them with you:

Walt DisneyWalt Disney

‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them’

Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World. He kept going with his mantra – Dream, Believe, Dare, Do and eventually found a recipe for success that transformed the dreams of millions of children and adults alike. Unfortunately he wasn’t alive to see his Walt Disney World vision become reality.

Winston Churchill

‘Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.’

This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn’t always as well-regarded as he is today. Churchill struggled in school and performed poorly. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.

During Churchill’s political career, he made numerous decisions that would turn into failures. In the First World War, he led the troop who invaded Turkey in order to establish a southern link with Russia, which resulted into a complete failure and loss of many young soldiers from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, ANZAC. In the Second World War he was chiefly responsible for taking over Norway and he was defeated by the German army. In spite of all the failures and criticism, Churchill is regarded as one of the greatest leaders and orators of the 20th century.

In 1953 he received the Noble Prize for Literature for the book ‘The Second World War’, In 1963, the US Congress granted him an honorary American citizenship. In 1940 and in 1949, the Time magazine honoured Churchill with the “Man of the Year”.

J.K. RowlingJ. K. Rowling

‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.’

Jo Rowling is a huge success on a global scale due to her Harry Potter stories, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel, which incidentally was rejected by 12 publishers before being published by Bloomsbury. Rowling went from struggling to survive on benefits to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.

Richard BransonRichard Branson

‘You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over’

Richard Branson has tried many different things in his life. He likes to compete and prove to bigger players that the smaller ones can indeed win too in business.

Virgin Cola, introduced by Richard Branson in 1994 as the rival to Coca-Cola, has practically disappeared. Virgin Clothes, launched on the stock exchange in 1996, folded with losses to shareholders, after debuting with promising new trends in providing more edgy wardrobe to the young. Virgin Money was launched with a viral and somewhat controversial advertising campaign, panned by critics with Richard Branson emerging naked from the sea, but did not deliver the expected big financial rewards to its shareholders. Then came Virgin Vie, Virgin Vision, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Wine, Virgin Jeans, Virgin Brides, Virgin Cosmetics and Virgin Cars – All the major brands who wanted to compete and earn a huge market share from established brands in those areas, failed to live up towards expectations.

He has lost millions upon millions, if not billions, over the years. Many people would have given up along the way. But he hasn’t allowed his failures to stop him from trying again. He has learnt from his mistakes and gone on to be extremely successful again and again. It is his willingness to give things a go that has seen him succeed. He sees his failures as a step to success.

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein

‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’

Most people would come up with the name Albert Einstein, if you asked them to name a genius.  Yet even for Einstein genius did not come easy.  He had speech difficulties as a child and was once even thought to be mentally handicapped. As a teen he rebelled against his schools reliance on rote learning and failed.  He tried to test into Zurich Polytechnic, but failed again (although he did very well in the mathematics and physics section!  A few years later he had a PHD and was recognized as a leading theorist.  A few years after that he had a Nobel prize for physics and began to be recognized as the genius of our modern era.

James DysonJames Dyson

‘By fostering an environment where failure is embraced, even those of us far from our student days have the freedom to make mistakes — and learn from them still. No one is going to get it right the first time. Instead of being punished for mistakes along the way, learn from them. I fail constantly. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.’

While developing his vacuum, Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over 15 years. By the time he made his 15th prototype, his third child was born. By 2,627, he was really struggling financially. By 3,727, Dyson’s wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. Each failure brought him closer to solving the problem. It wasn’t the final prototype that made the struggle worth it. The 5,127th prototype worked and now the Dyson brand is one of the best-selling vacuum cleaners in the World.

Hope you enjoyed reading Six of the Best…Failures. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes of the moment :

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Fail to Learn, Learn to Fail

Failure

In this post I’d like to cover some common failures of leaders and managers. We all make mistakes, and that’s actually a good thing, as long as you learn from them…and learn quickly. I’m going to draw from my experiences and those of people I’ve met along the way and hopefully save you some time and some pain.

1)    Waiting too long to address under-performance

I’ve seen this so many times in my career and have been guilty of it myself in the past. Many of us like to think the best of people and think that with encouragement, coaching and focussed objectives everyone can make the grade or better. Not so, certainly not all the time. There comes a point when you have to take decisive action.

These situations almost always get worse if left alone. They never get better on their own. Understanding the real issues and taking action quickly leads to faster improvement and reduces the risk of unrecoverable failure for your team members and yourself.

You need to ask yourself the following questions?

a)     Does your team member know what is expected of them? Have they got SMART Objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound)?

b)    Does your team member have the capability and skills to do what you need of them? Do you and they know what needs to be changed? Have you got time to get there?

c)     Are they passionate about what they do? Maybe they’re ‘a square peg in a round hole’ i.e. they’re in the wrong role for their skills.

d)    Have you ensured that they are receiving feedback? Don’t trust that just because you’ve discussed it with their manager, it’s happened…Follow up. Don’t trust that just because the words have come out of your mouth, they’ve got it. Get them to play back what they’ve heard and let them tell you what they’re doing about it.

e)     Is their performance impacting other members of the team negatively? Are you hearing this from more than one or two people?

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, make a decision to act and then act. Stick to a plan. Set objectives, measure performance, give feedback, coach, give more feedback and if the person’s performance or behaviour doesn’t change, make a decision, and yes follow process, but move the person; either to a different role, or out of your business. It will be hard, but it is the right thing to do – Right for you, for the team, and in my experience, right for the individual.

2)    Not linking Strategy to Objectives or Pay

If you pay your sales team only on winning new business and you’re not setting objectives to any of your teams on retention or great customer service….you will fail.

If you incentivise your people on revenue, they won’t focus on profitability and you will fail.

If you want the best customer service in your industry and you pay people on lowest call times…you will fail.

If you want your executive team, or your management team to change the culture of the business for the long term, make sure that they are compensated on it, or you will fail.

You get the picture, but many don’t. If you want to shift the momentum of a department or a function or a full business, you need to align how people are compensated behind that vision.

3)    It’s ‘their’ fault

Let’s get something straight. If you take ownership for delivering something, big or small, it’s no-one else’s fault but your own. True ownership means, tenacity – not taking ‘no’ as an answer, not taking ‘it can’t be done’ as an answer. You keep going, keep pushing, you fight for resource, you fight for priority, you fight for your goals. You make yourself unpopular. Yes…but. No buts. If you agree to take ownership of something, you deliver it or you face the consequences. Stand by your goals!

4)    I thought they knew what they had to deliver

This is a big one. Communicating top priorities creates the basis of focus for an organisation, team or individual. However, without clear definitions of success, management and employees can be aiming for very different levels of performance. This creates significant risk in execution to committed operating plans and strategic projects.

Leaders need to be very precise in defining how they are going to measure success. What indicators are going to be used? What weight will be put on different measures? And what are the specific target levels for each of those measures that are expected?

Highly visionary leaders struggle with this more than most. They tend to be heavy on pitching big ideas, but very light on communicating priority and specific expectations.

a)     What’s the big idea?

Visionaries get this. They have the idea. They have the passion. They feel they have communicated it. But your team may not.

b)    What are the under-pinning principles?

What guiding principles underpin the big idea? No more than 5 – In priority order if possible. These principles will help your people define the boundaries of the big idea. Make sure that your people, especially your influencers understand the big idea AND the principles.

c)     Get your people to shape the plan

Ok, so your key players understand the big idea, they’ve thrashed out principles and priorities with your help. Let them build the plan. You sign it off. But let them ‘own’ the plan…and the targets.

d)    Review and feedback

Keep on top of the plan, regularly. Give feedback, but don’t take over. If you’ve got the wrong people on the team, change them. If the numbers aren’t coming, evaluate what you’re doing and either change your course or focus extra energy on results.

5)    Accepting the status quo

I’ve spent my whole career being frustrated by the status quo. No system is perfect. If it was, the animal kingdom would not have evolved. Competition would not exist. Siblings would not try to out-do each other. There would be no Olympic Games or Premier League. Business is no different.

I’m amazed at the lack of attention to detail in business. We get feedback every day from our customers – directly or indirectly. Do ‘we’ listen to the news, surveys, research, phone calls, letters of complaint….?

Only the best businesses truly listen to feedback and act upon it. And by business I mean, every part, every person in the business listens and more importantly ACT on feedback.

Companies that stick with the status quo, fail.

6)    Stop communicating – Engage, Enrol, Involve

People are not stupid. They have lives, they have mortgages, they have complicated relationships, they have children, they have debts, they have secrets, they have dreams. Don’t give them a mouse mat or a piece of paper and expect them to ‘vote’ for your strategy. Talk to them, listen to them, find out what they care about, let them help you with your strategy. Listen to their ideas. Morph your strategy to the best ideas. Bring the most enthusiastic into your inner circle, no matter what their grade.

Forget emails, slides, videos, intranets and 3 minutes at a team briefing in isolation. If you only use these methods without truly engaging with your people and getting their buy-in and belief, you will fail.

7)    I won’t tell them, it’s in their best interests.

Rightly or wrongly, businesses often hide the truth from their people and often for the ‘right’ reasons. The days of mass union action have gone. Some will disagree.

Everyone that has an element of commercial awareness, knows that sometimes, tough decisions have to be made. One day that could impact you.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather know. I would then have time to make plans.

My advice, some would say naively, tell people the truth. Give them enough time to make plans or change direction.

I hope this post provoked some thought and hopefully some ideas to help you reflect on past failures and how you may improve, going forward.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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