Success Mindset: The Top Ten Reasons You Aren’t Where You Want to Be – YET! Part 2 of 2

Reason #6: You Lack the Skills

 Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks in building any successful venture. 

Lydia M. Child

Someone can know academically how to remove an appendix, but you wouldn’t want someone to take a scalpel to you who had never been trained – no matter how many books they’d read and videos they’d watched. There can be a big gap between knowledge and skill, and that may be what is holding you back.

Once you’ve identified what you need to learn, the next step is to try it. Skill can only be developed in one manner: Through practice. You can’t create a top-notch video… until you create a bunch of not-so-great ones. You can’t cook a gourmet meal… until you create a bunch of so-so ones. You can’t give a standing ovation-worthy keynote speech… until you give a few snoozy ones. You can read, study, learn, and learn some more – but until you actually try and refine your skills, you’re not going to get better.

There are a couple of misconceptions that hold us back from putting our knowledge to work:

  1. We think we need to “know it all.” The problem with gaining knowledge in today’s online world is that there’s no end to what we can learn. There’s always another class, blog post, video, article, or guru that we can consume. Solution: Pull the plug. Remind yourself that you cannot have perfect knowledge, and that is okay.
  2. We think knowledge is better than practice. In fact, the opposite is often true. Practice, as the old saying goes, makes perfect. There’s no substitute for picking up the golf club and swinging it over and over again – but that practice could very sell substitute for reading another book on hitting the perfect drive.
  3. We fear imperfection. We somehow think that “everyone else” is perfect and never falls down, sends out an email with an embarrassing typo in it, or otherwise struggles at first. This is so false; anyone who has mastered something, from making money to making a cake, went through failure first.

Sometimes, the only solution is to get out there and try. Publish the first blog post. Send in the first article. Sing the first song. Refinement comes through practice, and there is no shortcut to mastery. You can read as many books as you want, but true skill will only come with trial and error.

Reason #7: You Lack Stamina

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.
George Edward Woodberry

Take a sprinter on a long run with a marathoner and you’ll notice something: The fastest man in the world isn’t so fast once you get past the first 10 miles. The marathoner, who started out at a more moderate pace, slowly overtakes the sprinter who has trained himself for short distances. It’s the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare.

If you tend to start out with a bang on a new idea or project, only to get discouraged when you hit that mental “wall” around mile 13, you may be out of shape. And while you may be banking on becoming the next overnight success, you need to know that:

  1. The true overnight successes of today become the one-hit wonders of tomorrow, and
  2. Most overnight successes were many years in the making.

Look behind virtually any rags-to-riches story, from Susan Boyd to Zappos, and you’ll see that years went into the preparation for their time in the limelight.

If you see yourself having trouble with your stamina, it’s time to work on building your endurance. Here are some exercises to help you:

  1. Track your progress. Often progress is so incremental that you can become discouraged before you hit your goal. Write down the successes – small and large – and review them regularly to remind yourself that you are making progress. You may even want to make a large visual representation of your goal and track your progress towards it, just like schools put up huge thermometers to show how much money they’ve earned towards their pool fund.
  2. Pace yourself. The marathoner knows that going out as fast as possible in the first mile is usually a recipe for disaster. Yes, you’re excited about your new venture, but keep some of that excitement in reserve. You may feel like staying up until all hours working on your business plan, and while that’s great, don’t expect to be able to maintain that level of commitment for weeks or months on end.
  3. Cross-train. Find other activities to give you a break from your main focus. You just might find that time away from your goal refreshes and energizes you, and keeps you from burning out. Even if it’s just an evening a week, make sure you take mini-vacations.
  4. Find a partner. Partners are great whether you’re heading to the gym or working your way through med school. Sometimes an outside commitment is needed to help you stay accountable and stay on track. Having someone who understands the challenges you’re facing can make all the difference between giving up and going on.

While a sprinter can be in great physical shape, most goals require a long-distance mindset. Remind yourself what the tortoise knew: Slow and steady wins the race.

Reason #8: You’re Scared of Failure

Failure is success if we learn from it.
Malcolm Forbes

Any coach can point to a handful of clients who seemed to have all the talent, resources, and determination in the world, but for some reason, they were never able to reach their goals. They talked the talk, and walked the walk – for a while. But suddenly, they disappear into the sunset, becoming just a distant memory.

In my experience, it’s fear of failure that keeps these people stuck where they are, despite their resources and skill. They somehow figure that they’d rather be where they are, safe and sound, then venture out into the unknown and possibly not succeed that which they’ve set out to accomplish. They come up with every excuse in the book as to why they can’t do such-and-such:

-It’s too cold.

-It’s too hot.

-Everyone knows you don’t start (fill in the blank) in the summer (or winter, or fall, or spring).

-They need to take another class.

-They need to get their office ready.

-They need to wait for their youngest to start kindergarten, their oldest to start college, their husband to die, their wife to get well.

There’s always a reason why now is not the right time – but the real reason is that they’re simply afraid of not being able to make the grade. And then who knows what would happen if they (gasp!) failed?

Ironically, it’s the fear of failure actually causes them to fail! And they’re still alive, stuck in their little shell. So I guess failure wasn’t so bad after all, was it?

When working with people who have a fear of failure, sometimes direct questioning is the best method to get them to recognize their obstacle:

If not now, when?

If not you, who?

If you have this goal on your heart, then it’s there for a reason. You may be the only person who can bring that particular goal to reality in the exact way you dream of. If you don’t do it, no one will!

The truth is, there is never going to be a perfect time to start. And the truth is, you’ll likely have some stumbling blocks along the way. Everyone does. But you have to reach a point where staying where you are and never unwrapping your dream is more painful than any risk of misstep or failure. Then, and only then, will you be prepared to move forward. And I bet you’ll find it wasn’t anywhere near as scary as you thought it would be.

Reason #9: You’re Scared of Success

Action is the foundational key to all success.
Pablo Picasso

Susan wanted to go back to school after her twins had left for college to get her law degree. She wasn’t worried about being the oldest one in her class. She wasn’t worried about keeping up with the studies. She wasn’t even worried about taking the LSAT. Here’s what worried her:

“Who will take care of my dogs if I go back to work full-time? They’re used to having me home all day.”

This talented, vibrant woman was willing to put the imaginary wishes of her dogs three or four years from now, before her own desire to become a lawyer. Something else had to be going on!

A little digging showed that the dogs were just a convenient excuse. What she was really worried about was upsetting the carefully crafted balance she and her husband had stuck in their married life. He was the breadwinner; she was the homemaker. If she did something different, she wasn’t sure how he would respond. What if he left her? What if the friendships she’d cemented over PTA bake sales and field trips and Little League games couldn’t weather the change from stay-at-home mom to career woman? What if she lost everything she’d built her life upon?

Susan was afraid of success. Actually, it wasn’t fear of the goal itself, but of the byproducts of achieving her goal. The domino effect of making one change in her life – going back to school – might be more than she could handle.

If you find yourself not doubting your abilities, but feeling anxious about pursuing your goal because you’re not sure what will happen if you do, you may be like Susan. And it is a legitimate concern. Change often begets more change – more than we bargain for. But there are ways to prepare for it.

  1. Talk to the people closest to you. Share your fears about the changes in your relationship that might happen as a result of pursuing your goal. You may be surprised to find that they don’t care one whit whether you’re dressed in blue jeans or a three-piece suit; they just want to know they’ll see you at Bunco once a month.
  2. Be honest about your concerns. Don’t misplace your anxiety about your marriage onto your dogs – or your kids.
  3. Realize that change usually happens in increments. Yes, going back to school will be a radical change, but the subsequent adjustments in relationships will be more gradual. You will have time to talk about them and discuss them.
  4. Work with a coach or other expert. Coaches are trained in managing change, and will be able to help you predict some of the other secondary adjustments that may result.

Yes, things will change. But not all change is bad; in fact, you may find that your life in every area ends up better than you had ever hoped it would be. And that the dogs don’t miss you all that much anyway.

Reason #10: You Don’t Think You Can. 

We all talk to ourselves. A major key to success exists in what we say to ourselves, which helps to shape our attitude and mindset.
Darren L. Johnson

When it comes right down to it, there’s only one real barrier that will keep you from achieving anything you set your mind to, and that’s this: Your belief in yourself. If you don’t honestly believe you are capable of achieving your goals, your chances of doing so are very limited. And by the same token, if you honestly believe you CAN achieve your goals, there’s nothing that can stop you.

Many of us grew up with a limited sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. We constantly doubted our ability to do anything, from cross the street by ourselves to get a date. While this could spring from overprotective parents, who just wanted to protect us from the big, bad world, it resulted in lack of confidence that carried over to our adult life.

The only way out is through. The only way to build self-confidence is to do things you are nervous about. That means talking to strangers in line at the grocery store if you’re hoping for a career in direct sales, or posting some of your poetry on your blog if you’re interested in becoming a writer. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

There is no shortcut to self-esteem or confidence. No one can give it to you, which is where so many of the school programs aimed at enhancing kids’ self-perception go wrong. It must be earned, the old fashioned way, through risk and reward.

The great thing about confidence is that you can start small. If you want to complete the Ironman Triathlon, you don’t have to start at Lake Placid. Instead, you can run around the block and swim a length of the pool. Then you run a mile and swim two lengths, and bike home. You build and build and build, and while you’re building your muscles, you build your confidence. You know you can swim two laps because last week you swam one and a half. You know you can sell $500 in a week because last week you sold $400. You know you can get three customers because you have two right now. And so it goes.

Sometimes you may fail; you only make it one and a half lengths, or you only sell $467 in a week. But by looking at where you’ve come from and how far you’ve gone, you know that the next step is within your reach. And when you feel that in your very soul, you will be unstoppable. There is no obstacle or challenge that will be too large for you to overcome, because you know you can.

Conclusion

After presenting ten different reasons you aren’t where you want to be, it’s my intent not to overwhelm you with information, but to inspire you. Maybe you’ve identified only one reason you’re stuck where you are; maybe you saw yourself in all ten! In any case, I hope that you are prepared to make some changes to move yourself forward.

It doesn’t take huge movements to make progress; in fact, sometimes the biggest results come from the smallest actions, like giving up sugary soda, or making one more cold call at the end of the day. It’s the repetition of those small acts over time that brings about huge results.

I hope that after finishing this report, you have some clear ideas of changes – small and large – that you can undertake right now, today. I wish you only the best.

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