There are times in my life when I am soaring with confidence, ambition and enthusiasm for just about anything that my mind conjures up and I totally commit to the possibility and the belief that I can make it happen. Can you relate to that feeling?
When I am that girl, immersed in a vision, I feel everything around me galvanize by a blind faith, and my actions are spurred on by a passion and enthusiasm that makes success feel inevitable. That girl has accomplished a lot in her life and I laugh and shake my head in amazement at all that I did!
Like being on a ship in 2018, going through the entire Panama Canal and realizing that I was achieving what I had conceived and believed I could and would do, one day.
The reverse is also part of my life. There have been many, many times when I held back from pursuing a dream or an opportunity, because I accepted the limiting beliefs of others, or the ones I had imposed on myself. I allowed certain insecurities and fear to be my protectors against possible (or inevitable) failure, negative judgement, persecution.
Its not who you are that holds you back, its who you think you are not.– Dennis E. Waitley, Motivational Speaker
Limiting beliefs are opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth. They tend to have a negative impact on one’s life by stopping them from moving forward and growing on a personal and professional level.
If your mind is conjuring up a few examples of times you held back from pursuing a dream, or playing out a few limiting beliefs right now, as you read this, then this story is for you.
A Defining Moment
When I was in my forties, I had a very good job, doing what I really enjoyed. I had developed a strong network of collaborators, I could get things done easily, and even pull the occasional miracle out of my hat. My hours provided good work/life balance and I was very well paid for this great job. I frequently refused invitations to apply for Manager roles, as I felt the price would be paid by stress and less flexibility.
In retrospect, I understood later that I had a fear of success and truthfully, I did not feel worthy of success. I felt that I was very fortunate to have what I had, and should not be looking for more.
The position of Manager in my department opened up one day. While having coffee with a colleague I found myself again listing all my reasons for not applying for the job. My colleague wrapped up the conversation by telling me “sounds to me like you are not wanting to challenge yourself”.
That comment was a powerful one. It actually had more power than the limiting beliefs I had about not being worthy or capable of greater success. Unknowingly, this colleague tapped into a deep rooted motivation to always surpass myself and prove that I was capable of a challenge. I knew that anyone who prepared, trained, and focused on a task could get it done. That belief was stronger than any other limiting belief I had and I set my mind that day that I was going to win!
To make a long story short, I competed against 3 other women who were already in Manager roles. I dedicated my days to preparing and rehearsing for the interview. I went into the interview confident that I could do the job. The panellists were impossible to read. A week later my confidence had wavered again, and I was expecting a polite “regret” call when instead, I was offered the position.
That was a defining moment for me and an important stepping stone to many rewarding leadership roles after.
Perceived limitations are just one of the reasons we hold back from change or pursuing a dream. Other factors include:
- A lack of confidence
- Ignoring problems
- Having negative thoughts
- Thinking its too late, or that we have no control
- Having a lack of courage
- Blaming it on a lack of resources
- Not taking responsibility
Sometimes what holds us back is not so much the fear of failure, but the fear of others seeing us fail. When we find a way to work above that, and draw on personal strengths and qualities, we can overcome our fears and our limiting beliefs, and we achieve success. You have to find those belief busters and press on!
It may take a few tries, or it might be an immediate right fit. The lesson is to believe in the dream, make a plan, prepare and go for it!