Henry Ford, one of the most influential men in history, once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He believed that the largest obstacle people faced, the obstacle that kept them from realizing their potential, were themselves. Now coming from your average Joe these words may have little meaning, but as I’m sure you will agree, Ford’s success gives those simple words a great deal of credence. By eliminating the words “I can’t” from his vocabulary, he created one of the largest empires in the world.
Self-limiting beliefs are huge obstacles to success. Recognizing these self-imposed limitations is the first step to overcoming them, allowing you to reach any goal you wish. Below are the 4 most common self-limiting beliefs:
1. Failure Lasts Forever
Failure can stop people in their tracks. They allow a lone setback in life to define who they are and stop them from realizing their potential. But failures do not have to be permanent, and in no way are they representative of who you really are. It’s true that we must live with the consequences of our actions, but learning from these consequences is what separates successful people from the crowd. Use these failures as an opportunity to grow, and move forward confidently with this new knowledge. You are more than your experiences and the lessons you learn, followed by the actions you take in the face of failure, will help you to achieve remarkable results in your life.
2. I’m Not Smart Enough
Many people believe they are not smart enough to make a difference. They feel success is reserved for people in an entirely different class than them—an elite group of some kind—and that greatness is reserved for only them. They feel they have no control or power over their own lives because they just don’t measure up. This is simply not true.
Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, was a common man with very little formal education, yet his belief in himself allowed him to revolutionize the world. Can you imagine what the world would have been like if he believed he wasn’t smart enough or worthy of his calling?
Everybody has something that makes them unique. The trick is to discover your special skills—the skills that make you who you are—and utilize them to create the type of life of which you can be proud.
3. I’m Not Worthy
Unfortunately there are people who believe they don’t deserve to be successful. They think that great success and happiness is reserved for others and regardless of what they do, they feel they will never measure up.
Unfortunately, living life this way seems safe to a lot of people. After all, if they never even try, failure, their worst fear, is not even possible. One can’t, for example, fail to land their dream job if they never even submit an application. Conversely though, using this same thought process, success proves to be unattainable as well. This manner of thinking poisons the possibility for success and positive change, and creates that mediocre existence that most people are constantly complaining about.
You are indeed worthy of success. Believe in yourself and your ideas. They have great worth because they come from you.
4. Nobody Likes Me
Fear of the way we are perceived can be a major impediment to growth. Many of us become paralyzed to action because we’re afraid of the way it will look to others, but this paralysis is completely unwarranted. The majority of people-those same people we worry about-are far too concerned about themselves and their own issues to even notice what we’re doing. If you think about it, concern over the way we are perceived is rather egotistical.
Now there are people who care about you, and thus have a vested stake in the decisions you make, but why in the world would you worry about their perceptions? They are the people who want you to succeed and will unfailingly root for you regardless of the outcome of the decisions you make. They are your support team, people who will be there for you through good and bad. Count yourself lucky for having them in your corner. The rest of the world, however, is too wrapped up in their own daily grind to have time to ponder yours. Don’t worry about how your actions will be perceived by others. Move forward with the knowledge that the people that matter to you will support you in everything you attempt.
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When Abraham Lincoln took the Oath of Office as the 16th President of the United States in March of 1861, the country was anything but “united.” The country was so divided over issues such as slavery and individual rights that seven southern states had seceded from the Union, and the nation was on the brink of Civil War. Facing these obstacles, Lincoln could have easily and understandably succumbed to the pressure and relented to the demands of the South, but his values prevented him from doing so. He was willing to face an unprecedented War within the United States for what he believed to be fundamentally right.
History, both ancient and recent, is filled with examples of ordinary people acting extraordinarily and according to their values in the face of overwhelming challenges. People who refused to accept things they felt were wrong with the world, and who truly believed they alone could make a difference. People, such as Rosa Parks, who simply could not wait any longer for someone to act on her behalf.
In the face of personal harm and the risk of arrest, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, singularly protesting the accepted laws of segregation, thus beginning the Civil Rights Movement.
When people follow their passion and act upon what they know in their hearts to be right, amazing things can happen. All change begins with an individual—an individual who sees something wrong with the world or perhaps something that can be improved upon, and has the courage to initiate the change.
The trick, of course, is to find something you are passionate about. What types of things are important to you and what can you do about it? Next, you must act. No stone begins to roll without the first push, and you alone can get the ball rolling and create positive change that supports your personal values. Don’t wait around for someone else to do what you can start right now. It’s not easy, but when you truly believe in something you’ll find that the motivation to continue will come very easily.
As a simple Catholic Nun, Mother Theresa dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate. She refused to accept that people should be hungry or denied medical care simply because of where they lived or their circumstances. She took personal responsibility for what she believed was wrong and acted accordingly. She was neither rich nor powerful. She did not seek fame or fortune. She simply wanted things to change because they were not aligned properly based upon her value system.
Isn’t it possible that you too could take a cause you believe in and make it your own? What could you do to improve upon this world?
All too often in life, we wait around for someone else to instigate the changes we want to see. We doubt our own ability and become paralyzed to action, thinking either we are not solely capable of bringing the changes about, or that someone else will get around to it. This inability to act alone is all in our head. Each journey begins with a single step, and our first step may set in motion a journey that could change the world.
The world is indeed a better place thanks to Lincoln, Parks and Mother Theresa. Their values and the courage to act upon them changed the status quo and set in motion events that make this earth a better place to live. The only “special power” they shared was an unshakeable belief in what they thought to be right and the guts to do something about it. Individuals can make a difference, and it begins by answering two simple questions:
1. What’s wrong with this?
2. What can I do about it?
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