Why Not or Why Not? – Removing Personal Barriers to Success

Self-limiting BeliefsFollowing on from my recent posts on Self-Limiting Beliefs (Part1, Part2), I’ve paid much more attention to the language people use around me to watch for self-limiting beliefs or self-restricting words that serve to embed these hindering thoughts as ‘facts’ in our subconscious.

How often have you thought about a new goal for yourself, only for your subconscious, your inner dialogue, to give you 10 reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do it and if you did do it why you would fail in achieving that goal? The first of the Why Nots!

I recently was talking with a highly competent individual who felt completely stuck in their current role. When asked what they were doing about finding another job, I was immediately faced with a whole host of reasons why not:

1. I’ve worked there too long and wouldn’t be able to find the right job

2. Other employers wouldn’t be as flexible with my working hours

3. Other employers wouldn’t pay me as much as I get at the moment

4. Nobody is recruiting for roles with my skills

You get the picture. When asked whether they had looked into the job market locally or spoken to any prospective employers the answer was no. By having the reasons ‘Why Not’ already in their mind, the possibility of finding another role couldn’t even be there. That very evening, following our conversation, that person found a job that crossed off the ‘Why Not’ reasons! Opening up the possibility led to action and potentially a different outcome. Whether the person gets an interview or not, is not that relevant to the point I’m trying to make. It opened that door and others to future possibilities by taking away the reasons not to do something.

So, how do you change your mind-set from finding reasons not to do something into reasons and belief in yourself to take positive action – The second, but more positive ‘Why Not?’ – 5 easy steps – STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, PLAN, ACT

1. Stop

Recognise when your inner dialogue is starting to list reasons why you can’t do something, and STOP yourself in your tracks. This is not as easy as it sounds, but gets easier with practice.

2. Look

Look into the reasons why you are putting barriers in front of what you are trying to achieve. Have you got any evidence as to why you can’t do you what you want to achieve or are the usual sel-limiting beliefs that you know you have rearing their head?

3. Listen

Try and clear your head of all the clutter and noise and focus on possibilities. Don’t shut anything out at this stage. If there were no reasons ‘Why Not’ to do something, what could the possibilities be? Try and think of all ways to achieve your goal, some might feel outlandish, but don’t discount them at this stage. Write them down – try to get at least 20 possibilities!

4. Plan

Now you’ve got your long list of possibilities. Now is the time to narrow them down to a short list of SMART goals that contribute to your ultimate goal.By SMART, I mean:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

I find it best to prioritise these types of goals from the easiest to the hardest, which goes against some management wisdom. Why? Well our subconscious doesn’t seem to be able to qualify small success from huge success particularly well. So by getting some quick, small wins against our ultimate goal, we immediately start feeling better about our ability to achieve it. The more belief we get in ourselves, the more likely our success!

5. Act and Act Now!

Stick to your action plan, act and act now. This is often the hardest part for people suffering from ‘Why Not’ Syndrome. By acting quickly and getting one of your first goals completed quickly, you’re setting yourself up to succeed and preventing yourself from coming up with more reasons why not!

Let me know how you get on with: STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, PLAN and ACT

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Self-limiting Beliefs – Part 1

self-limiting beliefsIf you are one of those people who constantly has negative thoughts or feelings running around inside you, or you find yourself regularly repeating bad habits or destructive patterns, most likely you have a hidden self-limiting belief lurking in your mind, holding you back from reaching your full potential, preventing you from being the BEST YOU CAN BE!

What are Self-Limiting Beliefs?

Self-limiting beliefs are opinions we have of ourselves that prevent us from doing certain things based on our perceptions of  our own behaviours, abilities and lifestyles. When we talk of self-limiting beliefs, we are often not necessarily talking about something real or tangible. We are talking about a train of thought that could lead us to act in ways that are not helpful to us. Our belief system acts as a filter through which we see the world, and influences our take on life. This series of posts will help people to understand the power of the belief system, how it can influence our lives and what we can do to change it for the better! Our beliefs about ourselves, those around us and the world at large effect who we are and how we behave. Beliefs are merely thoughts that with a little encouragement and repetition from our over-active minds transform into facts over time. Once we have formed a self-limiting belief, we continue to pursue evidence to prove that our belief is real. These beliefs are backed up by our inner dialogue, providing further evidence to back up our negative or ‘unhelpful’ thoughts. How many times have you caught yourself saying:

  • I knew I’d be no good at this!
  • This always happens to me – I’m useless!
  • I never win at anything!
  • I’ll never get a great job!
  • I’ll never be as wealthy as them!
  • I could never be a sales person!
  • I’m terrible at public speaking!

Sound familiar? All of these phrases mask a self-limiting belief and if we say them to ourselves often enough, they tend to become reality. At best, they can prevent us from meeting our potential; at worst they can lead to significant impacts in our ability to function in certain aspects of our lives or relationships.

What Causes Self-Limiting Beliefs?

We are NOT born with self-limiting beliefs – Fact. Also a fact is that we are born with only two innate fears; firstly a fear of loud noises and secondly a fear of falling for very obvious evolutionary reasons. From the day we are born, however, our environment influences us – our parents, our broader family, our teachers, our friends, our society, our colleagues, the news, television, music and so on. Don’t believe me? Below are some well used phrases commonly used in our formative years. As you read through these, how do the phrases make you feel? Do they impact or resonate with you in any way? Do any of them lead to feelings you don’t like or stir deep-rooted or forgotten memories?

From Parents From Teachers / Adults From School Friends / Siblings
Children should be seen and not heard You will never amount to anything if …. Don’t be a baby
Respect your elders It’s really tough to become a vet, have you thought about …. instead? You’re stupid / fat / ugly
You are just like your brother You can’t have your cake and eat it too You’re rubbish at …..!
Do as I say, not as I do We’ve always done it that way I’m much better at …..than you!
If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything Big boys don’t cry You’re the worst in the team!
You’re too young to understand Don’t be so stupid. Nobody likes you
Just wait until your dad comes home Why can’t you be smart like … Why would anyone want to play / go out / marry you?
Boys will be boys Don’t you know anything? You’re not cool like us
Why can’t you be more like your sister? Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer If you don’t do it, I’ll……
Whilst you’re living under my roof, you’ll abide by my rules! For a smart person you have no common sense. You could never be a …., you’re not clever enough
What happened, you used to be so good at ….. You should know better I’ll always have more ….than you
I thought you liked …. I am always right She’s well out of your league!

All of these relationships in our early years play a big part in who we become and how we interpret the world. If you are raised or brought up in a culture of limited belief, this will certainly influence the lens through which you see the world. This is how and when an individual begins to develop their self-image. As you mature into adulthood, you don’t see a world of unlimited possibilities, rather a world of limitation. As a child in any environment, whether it’s home, school, or socially, if you’re told often enough that you can’t do something, eventually you will learn to believe it. The mind will soak up what it sees, hears or is told to believe over time, even if negative in nature. Once we have limitation embedded in our brains, we learn not to see potential or possibility in certain aspects of our lives. We shut them out, unconsciously in many cases. In other words we discount them without considering them at all.

How to Identify Your Self-Limiting Beliefs?

It’s not as difficult as you might think to discover your self-limiting belief.

1. Listen to your negative thoughts

We all have inner dialogues. We talk to ourselves all the time. Start paying attention to what you’re saying and when you catch yourself having unhelpful, hindering or negative thoughts about yourself or what you think you can or can’t achieve. If you can, make a note of them in the moment so you can start to see if there are any patterns. You may start to see a pattern of self-limiting beliefs.

2. Ask yourself some questions

Look at the following partial sentences and complete them honestly. Give as many answers to each one as you can. Spot any themes any in your answers. These may give you some clues as to the root cause of your self-limiting belief.

  • I am…
  • I am not…
  • I am good with…
  • I am not good with…
  • I will never be able to…
  • I am held back by…
  • I always…
  • I never…

3. Monitor Your Emotional Responses

Another method of self-monitoring is catching yourself over-reacting badly to a given situation. What did you react to? What was said? What specifically upset you and why? Has anything similar happened in the past and how did you feel on those occasions?

4. Ask someone you trust

Once you’ve spent some time on the first three (it could take a few weeks!), talk over some of the outcomes with someone who knows you well, whom you trust and that will give you honest feedback.

You might not feel like talking this through at this stage, and that’s ok. You may also have uncovered something in your past that you need to think about and work through before you talk to someone about it, but talking through your findings will help you when you feel you’re ready to.

This concludes Part 1. In Part 2, I’ll be looking at some ways in which you can start to tackle your self-limiting beliefs head on.

Aptitude or Attitude~ What makes a Star Performer?

Star Performer - Attitude or AptitudeI’ve been thinking a great deal of late about what makes the difference between a good team member and a great one, or for that matter a good leader or a great one.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Attitude is a key defining factor.

Who are the stars in your organisation? What characteristics do they possess that make them your top choice? Generally, the best employee is the one who exhibits desired behaviours, i.e. attitude, in addition to having a strong skill set in what’s needed for the job.

What constitutes a ‘great’ attitude? What attitudes make a STAR PERFORMER?

S – Self-belief

The person with self-belief believes in his or her abilities and strides forward with the expectation of success. Others can see and feel that confidence. They are not arrogant – they don’t have to be. Being self-assured means you are secure in your own specific abilities and are happy to let others shine in their own ways. Confident people are not overly sensitive and don’t have big egos. Those who are truly self-assured are the ones you feel good being around.

T – Tenacity

It is often not always the strongest, nor brightest that succeed. Sometimes it is the one who simply refuses to give in – who fights against every discouragement, who presses through every difficulty, who ignores every prediction of failure, who spares no effort, who sees no problem as insolvable and no obstacle as insurmountable. A person with tenacity simply believes that there is a way even when everyone else thinks there is not!

A – Approachability

Don’t you find that your highest performers are often the most approachable? They’re always happy to help, even when they’re really busy. You often find that your star performers are also great coaches because their so approachable and are good at what they do.

R – Resiliency

I’ve also discovered that those who are extremely positive don’t resist life’s events, curse their fate or bemoan how bad things always happen to them. Instead, they believe that everything happens for a reason. This approach helps them to overcome setbacks and “go with the flow.” They learn lessons fast and don’t make the same mistakes again.

P – Positive Energy

A person with high personal energy has a positive outlook on various situations, even during difficult times, maintaining the perspective that the glass is half full rather than half empty. Their energy tends to motivate others as well as themselves!

E – Exceed Expectations

Star Performers go above and beyond the call of duty of their day-to-day tasks. They pay attention to details, seek solutions to problems, and provide a high level of commitment in their duties. In short, they deliver and some, consistently.

R – Responsibility

Anyone that says – ‘That’s not my job’ or says ‘I passed it on to Dave to do, hasn’t he done it?’ or ‘Oh sorry, I forgot’ is not taking responsibility. People that take responsibility, take ownership and take the initiative. If they see something that can be done in a better way, they make it happen; they take decisions; they’re accountable for their actions and they also take responsibility for their own personal development and performance.

F – Focus

Star Performers focus on the right things, not only to meet their objectives, but they also focus on doing the ‘right thing’. Star performers are driven by results and stretch targets. See my previous post ~ Focus on Focus.

O – Openness

Authenticity and generous listening are great behaviours that are not always prevalent in business. These behaviours do get results and often much more quickly. Great businesses need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

R – Reliability

Star Performers deliver. You can count on him or her to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

M – Motivated

No matter what the task, a star performer will always perform it without grumbling or with lacklustre, in fact quite the opposite. They’ll absolutely immerse themselves in the task until it’s complete.

E – Enterprising

An enterprising employee is one who is always coming up with new ideas, new ways to do things and innovative solutions to problems. They can be difficult to manage and they can get frustrated by lack of pace. BUT, if you can harness their energy and help them deliver some of their ideas that make a

R – Respectful

Star Performers are always respectful of others, even if they have differing views. They generously listen to what others have to say before expressing their viewpoint. They never speak over, or cut off another person. Star performers never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas. They treat people the same no matter their status, race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin.

Know any Star Performers? Take some time to spot individuals demonstrating these attitudes in your organisation. With the right coaching and support, they could be your greatest asset and leaders of the future.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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