Limiting Beliefs that Hold High Achievers Back

AML Inside the Box-9If you find yourself on the other side of big plans or dreams, but routinely fail to pull the trigger and do what you say you want to do, you may wonder what’s keeping you stuck?
More than likely it’s your limiting beliefs – thoughts that play like background music in the back of your mind and inform how you make decisions, how you navigate relationships and how you show up in the world.
As a personal branding coach for high achievers, my job is to help my clients increase their visibility around their gifts and talents, but often that also means helping them identify, address and clear their limiting beliefs so they can show up in the world as who they really are.
Over the years, I have noticed a number of limiting beliefs that pop up for people who are on the cusp of a new personal or professional frontier.
There is something about personal change that brings up all of your fears and replays them like a broken record. If you are on the cusp of something new – maybe you’re considering a career change, you want to start a business or even approach a new friend or love interest but can’t muster the courage – one of these limiting beliefs may be holding you back.
Limiting Belief #1“I can only be wildly successful in ONE field…” Many clients I have the privilege of working with are hard workers who have been giving their best effort since they were children. By that I mean, they were the ones who made good grades, studied hard, gained entry into prestigious schools and obtained advanced degrees. After all of that education – successful careers in law, medicine, media or manufacturing are just par for the course.
But when a high achieving individual wants to change course, she is often haunted by the nagging feeling that she is “throwing away” all of that hard work – all of the study, effort and money that went into becoming successful will somehow be all for naught. Or worse yet, she suspects that if she’s already been wildly successful in one area, it’s not likely that she will find that same level of success in a different area.
And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Truth: There is no limited amount of success – if you have success in one area, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll succeed when you do something different. But it also doesn’t guarantee that you’ll fail because you’ve somehow “used up” the success you’re allowed in your lifetime.
Think about actors like Ronald Reagan – a successful actor who went on to become president (much like Arnold Schwarzenegger who had mega success in Hollywood and went on to become governor of California). Or an artist like Maya Angelou who found success as a screenwriter, actress and dancer before becoming well known as a poet and author.

Limiting Belief #2 – “If I’ve tried once before and failed, I will more than likely fail again…”- On the opposite end of that thinking is the person who has had the opportunity to put him or herself out there in the past and was met less success than he’d hoped for. Perhaps he’s put his resume out there to switch careers and didn’t get any bites. Or maybe he pitched his business idea to investors and no one was interested.
Whether this happened ten days ago or ten years ago, the sense of past failure can become engraved in your brain and haunt you when it’s time to try your hand at something new.
Truth: The same way success in just one area doesn’t “use up” your success in life, one failure (or ten) doesn’t automatically mean that your next idea, venture or career path won’t work.
High achievers may tend to seek out experiences where success is all but guaranteed, because they see themselves as successful people. Truth is, the experience of failure can be traumatic, particularly for people who are risk averse and have gotten used to winning in life. But because big success is often times followed by failure of some sort – personal or professional, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal failing.
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Limiting Belief #3 – “Everything has to be perfect before I even get started…” Perfection is a big theme for high achievers, and that comes as no surprise. After all, high achievers are used to getting the details right, putting in maximum effort, and holding themselves to mercilessly high standards – the very qualities that made them high achievers in the first place.
But sometimes high achievers start using preparation and perfection as a way to procrastinate, and use their incomplete to do list as justification for why they’ve yet to put themselves out there.
Truth: As I mentioned in episode 36 of the Package Your Genius podcast, a long list of “shoulds” and prerequisites can keep you from pursuing your goals. There’s always going to be something you can improve to make your products or services better. But everything doesn’t have to be perfect before you take the first step.

Limiting Belief #4 – “My current circle has to understand and support my plans…” – Whenever you’re up to big things, it’s natural to seek out the support of others. Most of us go to the first and most obvious place – our friends and family – for support.
But what if our current friends, colleagues and family have no experience in what we want to do?
OR what if they are much more conservative than we are and want us to simply stick to what we know?
After working with dozens of women and men, I can tell you that one of the most important factors for your momentum and ability to stick with something new is the support you receive. What messages are you hearing on a daily basis? Are they positive or filled with doubt? Likely, these will be the voices that fill your head when you’re questioning a big decision.
Truth: You may think you have to share your big moves with the people in your personal life, but you don’t always have to – especially if those people don’t have the experience or awareness to be supportive. It’s fine to seek out a supportive network elsewhere. You can find a Facebook group, local meet up group, or try to meet some new people at your church.
Or you can always just keep your plans to yourself until you’ve firmed them up and they are at a less fragile stage of development.

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  • Carrie Poplar Sechel

    Great points… it’s so interesting because many of the beliefs and practices that drive early success are the same things that limit us from our full potential mid-career!

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