I have spent almost three decades coaching people on how to achieve their goals at work and in life.
It’s easy to teach people the skills necessary to succeed, particularly in the business I work in (not rocket science). It’s also not too difficult to get people inspired enough to get into action. So for most people, getting started on the path to success is not really a problem. But along the way, most people encounter a challenge that is very difficult to overcome.
What often gets in the way for so many people is SELF-DOUBT.
At some point along the path to success, everyone is confronted with the question, “Why me?”
Why should I be able to achieve what I want?
Am I good enough to reach the top in my field?
Can I really do this?
Every one of us has the tendency to let doubt and insecurity creep into our thinking. We worry about things that aren’t even likely to happen. We remind ourselves of past experiences where something went wrong, or things didn’t turn out as well as we had wanted.
What if this doesn’t work out?
Last time I was in this position, things didn’t work out.
What if that happens again?
By dwelling on the potential negatives, we actually make these things MORE LIKELY to occur. Our minds are like gigantic magnets in that they attract to them whatever thoughts are held most consistently.
Self-Doubt, therefore, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, how do you fight off this tendency? Here are some ideas …
Learn to talk TO yourself instead of just listening to the voices in your head.
Champions in any field practice positive self-talk. Going into any critical moment, they input positive thoughts into their mind in order to maintain focus, enthusiasm, and confidence. As you are talking to yourself, no negativity can pop into your mind. Talking to yourself pushes any other thoughts out of your mind. This results in a positive focus, and where focus goes, energy flows.
Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people.
This is one of those ideas that everyone has heard, yet some people still allow themselves to be mired in negative environments. One of the concepts that I think most holds true is that repetition is the key to buy in. The more we hear things, the more we believe them.
When you hang out with people who complain all the time, it’s natural to develop more of a scarcity mindset, and to gradually lose your positive spirit. And worse, if you are around people who hold you back or discourage you, it’s impossible to not start thinking less of yourself and develop more self-doubt.
Your reference group – the people you hang out with the most – is possibly the largest determinant of your success and well-being in life. Think hard about the people you spend the most time around. Learn to gradually minimize time with negative people, and find ways to get more time with people who will uplift and encourage you.
Ongoing learning is a vital piece of the puzzle for a healthy self-image.
Every time we learn something new, our expectations notch up slightly, and our confidence does as well. For this reason, the accumulated effect of ongoing learning can be extremely powerful. Be proactive about scheduling into your life opportunities for learning. This could include seminars or retreats, reading or watching videos, or simply listening to audios like podcasts during your drive time. We are all imperfect humans with these fears and doubts and insecurities. You just have to throw a little patch on each of these through daily self-development. As you gain new ideas about business and life, you will increase your expectations, build your confidence, and have an extra tool for fighting self-doubt.
Work hard, and be a person of character.
Jim Rohn teaches that “life responds to deserve.” Occasionally in life, we luck our way into good things. But in the long run, we typically get what we EARN or what we DESERVE. A solid work ethic creates a feeling inside of deserving success, and this feeling helps motivate people to push through short-term challenges.
“To give anything less than your best would be to sacrifice your gifts.”
— Steve Prefontaine, legendary distance runner.
When you surround yourself with the right people, and you work hard, an interesting thing happens: You often succeed. As your “success experiences” accumulate, one on top of the other, it’s natural for your image of your future to grow larger, more exciting, and more clear.
One’s character is also a huge part of this feeling of deserving success. Temptations to compromise your values will come often, and one of the toughest places to overcome these temptations is when money is involved. I have seen people do some very strange things in the pursuit of more money, often justifying a lack of character by saying “I have to do what’s best for my family.” Never trade your character for a few bucks. What’s always best for you and your family is for you to be a person of integrity.
“Life responds to deserve.”
— Jim Rohn
If you are reading this, you are likely in the top 10% of achievers in life, or at least you are in the upper echelon in terms of having opportunity. You were put on this Earth for awesome things, and there is no limit to what you can do.
So, consider this final philosophical statement that I’ll make:
For you to NOT achieve your grandest visions in life would be one of the most selfish things you could do.
The world is watching you, and many others will draw their own personal inspiration from what they see you do. Your co-workers, your friends, certainly your kids, can all be uplifted by the positive example that you set. There’s no greater answer to “Why me?” than this point.