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Mindset: How to overcome limiting beliefs and fears

Today I’m going to talk about a rather controversial subject – the idea of limiting beliefs and fears, as well as how to overcome them.

There are a lot of different philosophies out there on this topic, and I have to confess, oftentimes when other coaches talk about this, it makes me feel a little weird and uncomfortable. So I’m going to do my best to turn this esoteric subject into a logical, tangible process that you can follow to overcome the limiting beliefs/fears that are holding you back from achieving the things you want and using your talents to the greatest of your ability.

Before we start, I just want to say that there are some things we honestly can’t do. I’ll use myself as an example. If I say that I can’t play professional basketball in the NBA, that’s not a limiting belief. It’s just reality. I’m not that tall, not young or athletic enough, and definitely can’t shoot that well. No matter how hard I work or how much I change my mindset, I’ll never be able to play in the NBA. So approach this process with realistic goals in mind.

I’ll be the guinea pig here. When I was 26 (I’m 34 now), I knew I had this passion, and a God-given talent for coaching. It was my dream, my vision to be able to lift up those around me, be it friends, family, or the community. As I improved my own life, I also wanted to improve the lives of those around me. I truly believed that I had the raw talent to achieve this dream, even though my skillset wasn’t developed yet.

Sure, I know I can do it now, but imagine back before I did this as a full time business. My limiting belief was that nobody would want a 26 year old business coach. They’d want someone who doesn’t have as much hair on their head, and have a lot of experience in business already. And at the time, I didn’t have that kind of experience. All I had was passion.

The first step, then, is to identify the limiting belief or fear. In my case, I also had people around me who said that coaching wasn’t a great idea, and that there were other, safer, more reasonable tracks. They were looking out for me, but not in a supportive way. Because the reality was that I had the talent and skillset to be successful as a coach. It wasn’t something out of my range of God-given talents. It was in my zone, and it made sense. Anyway, the naysayers and doubters around me didn’t help, but I was still able to identify my limiting belief.

The second step is to figure out how you feel when faced with that limiting belief or fear. So when I thought to myself that I’m too young to be a successful business coach, I felt limited, and I didn’t want to bother taking action toward that dream. I was also a little sad and depressed. So identify the emotions created by your limiting belief or fear. It’s important to write this down on paper or type it up. This is where having a coach would be helpful, because you can verbalize your feelings to him. And if you don’t have one, tell someone else. Anyone. Get it out there.

Finally, track what you did to reach your goal after you’ve figured out how you feel about your limiting belief or fear. In my case (and probably yours as well), I didn’t take any action toward my dream. I continued to do exactly what I was doing before, living the same life, and then I got stuck because I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t using my gifts to help and serve others like I’d always wanted.

To recap this three-step process:

Step 1: Identify limiting belief/fear
Step 2: Identify how you feel when faced with that limiting belief/fear
Step 3: Track your activities (or lack thereof)

So what do you do next? How do you actually overcome this limiting belief or fear?

What I like to do is to create a trigger statement. Think of a time where you’ve overcome a fear similar to what’s blocking your goal now. For me, after I’ve developed a coaching practice, I might say to myself, “Have I ever gained a new client?” or “Have I ever helped or served someone? Have I ever helped someone grow?” The answer is obviously yes, so mentally I’d go back to a moment where I helped or served other people. Even though I was young, I still helped other business owners grow their businesses. Of course, this is now, when I’m much farther along in the business. Earlier on, I didn’t have that much to work with, so I had to do something different.

Basically, I stuck to three methods:

1. This is a personal method, but I prayed about any fear or limiting belief I experienced, as I have a Christian worldview.

2. I looked around at the others in my field. I’m not judging other coaches, but I’d ask myself, “If they can do it, why can’t I? If I am just as talented as they are, and I’m more passionate, why wouldn’t I be just as successful as they are?” So if you have a limiting belief or fear, look at those around you and ask yourself, “If they can, why can’t I?”

Here’s another example. Maybe you remember that back in high school, you didn’t think you could ever make varsity basketball, but you did. Go back to those past successes and use them as trigger statements. Like, “If I could overcome that hardship back then, why can’t I do it again now?”

After you have your trigger statement, this next part is key: take action toward your goal right away. Some people can identify their limiting belief or fear and then take action immediately, but not many. Most of us need a trigger statement to get mentally and emotionally prepared. After you do so, take action.

For me, that first step is to create a process for coaching and then tell everyone I know, everyone in my network. Next, I’ll join business groups. Once you start taking action, there’s momentum and you get into the groove of things. Once you get out of your comfort zone, things start to change. The way you think and feel shift toward more positivity.

3. Now that you’ve started taking action, maybe even enjoyed a little success, you can turn your limiting belief into an empowering belief. As opposed to saying “I can’t be a successful business coach at 26,” instead I said to myself, “I will be successful as a young business coach. Not only that, I will be able to serve many people and create a company that’ll have a huge impact on the world.” I believed that to my core.

So once you have your empowering belief, write it down, say it out loud, tape it to the wall, repeat it to yourself over and over. Continuously take action, and you’ll get the results you want. There will be obstacles along the way, so use the same process to get over those. It’ll become second nature. Next thing you know, your fears and limiting beliefs will get smaller and smaller.

As you overcome your limiting beliefs, you’ll start to face higher level challenges. For example, a person wants to become a self-employed professional, but they don’t think they could be successful, or make enough money to create a good life for themselves. Then, when they do get to the point where they’re creating a nice income, their new limiting belief becomes that they can’t hire people or have others help them. Next thing they know, they have fifty employees, and now they’re worried that they can’t grow their business to a 1,000-people company. The point is, we’re constantly working toward the next level. So keep that in mind as you embark on your journey to overcome limiting beliefs and fears.