Achieving success is hard. So don’t make it harder by playing out an all-too-common truth; that you tell yourself lies that get in the way. You don’t mean to and might not realize you’re doing it. But in conducting interviews for my book Find the Fire, I found the vast majority of people I talked to incorporated false assumptions into their pursuit of success, which became false truths, then full-blown self-lies.
I share now the seven most common lies I uncovered, including some I’ve told myself over my three-decade career. Pull these untruths from the background into the foreground, then expose them for what they are; unhelpful albatrosses.
1. “I’m not _____________ enough.”
Fill in the blank here. These are the words I hear (or have personally felt) most often in this sentence, “ready”, “expert”, “smart”, “talented”, “experienced”, “original”, “good.” Any of these sound familiar?
It’s so easy to feel you don’t measure up in so many ways. I’ve been there. You pick an irrelevant or even fictional standard you feel you must achieve, a standard nobody else would hold you to, a standard that causes paralyzing inertia. Before you know it, you’ve hopelessly distanced yourself from achieving that misguided standard with poisonous assumption after assumption.
But here’s the thing. You are enough. As is. Absolutely keep working to make the “is” even better, but stop underestimating the strength you already have.
2. “I can’t afford the investment (in time or money).”
Actually, I bet you can. The concept of affordability all comes down to priorities. With a fixed pool of resources, of course, you can only afford to spend it in so many ways. But if that thing you’re not investing in that could contribute to success is a priority, something else must become unaffordable. As in, I can’t afford to spend time or money on that anymore, I have a more important priority now.
Don’t ask if you can afford it, ask what else must go so you can.
3. “I am who I’m going to be.”
This also goes by the name of “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Either way, it’s a bold face lie. Whoever told you that people don’t change never tried to themselves. There are second, third, and fourth acts at work and in life. The only limits on what you can learn, grow into, how you can evolve, what you can become, are self-imposed.
For too long I let my corporate identity define me, convinced that it was who I was. Second-act-me that’s now an entrepreneur, speaker, writer, teacher and coach wouldn’t recognize first-act-me if we passed on the street.
Too often this sentiment turns into never. This nefarious word is aided by an evil henchmen. Says author of The War of Art, Steven Pressfield, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands ‘Resistance’.”
Resistance is a catch-all concept, it’s all the things we unknowingly concoct that cause us to put off our dreams and aspirations. Resistance takes the form of perfectionism, underappreciation of self, fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of change, and so on. All things that are a product of a distorted concept of self, and reality.
Take just one “someday” and convert it to “today.” Watch what happens to all the assumptions you were making that were feeding Resistance. Resistance becomes a renaissance.
5. “I’d like to but…”
This one is related to the above yet limiting in its own devious way. In this case, you create very specific blockades for yourself, buoyed by your misleading sense of practicality. You’d like to but _________ (insert some barrier that feels real but is really just an excuse).
The next time you catch yourself saying “I’d like to but…” to something that could help you succeed, try this instead, “I’m going to so…” You’ll naturally switch into barrier-busting mode.
6. “I don’t have the resources I need.”
Time, money, people. Whatever the resource, you likely already have all that you need. In fact, one of the greatest powers on earth is the ability to do more with less. It’s the corporate mantra of our times, after all.
Apply it to your own pursuit of success. If you can get those extra resources, great, but assume you can’t. Think of all those before you that did so much more with so much less.
7. “It’s too risky.”
I thought I’d end with an old standby. Psychologists will tell you here to simply ask yourself, “What are the real costs of being wrong?” Yes, in some cases it really is too risky. Much more often than not, though, the risk has been catastrophized in your head. The real risk is stagnancy.
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