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Limiting Beliefs — Do You Have Any?

November 15, 2013

Photo courtesy of Iwan Gabovitch

Around 2003, I met a guy in Las Vegas who worked for Tony Robbins. He was one of Tony’s high-end coaches, who worked with top-level executives for something like $50,000/year.

He also administered first aid to people who injured themselves walking barefoot over hot coals at Tony’s events — an act known as firewalking.

Plenty of people have successfully done firewalking without getting injured, so I asked him what the difference between the people who got injured and those who were successful was.

“Limiting beliefs,” he said.

This was his philosophy for a lot of things. I remember eating lunch with him one time and mentioning a problem I was facing…

“Limiting beliefs,” he said.

Today, I’m going to talk more about this — specifically about some “limiting beliefs” that have affected me and my career that may also be affecting you and your career.

Do You Believe These 5 Things?

1. As-Is Isn’t Good Enough – Even though my newspaper interview from 2002 wasn’t exactly supposed to be hard news, it would have been a great opportunity for me to show up fully and share myself and my company with the public in a more honest and authentic way. Instead, I ran with the idea of it being “fun” by rarely giving a straight answer.

Why? Because I believed everybody always wanted more than I had to give and I wanted to keep myself from being drained by this.

I know it sounds cliche, and it is cliche, but what you have to offer is good enough and it’s ok to stop there. People would rather deal with something real than fake and this applies to both personal and business relationships.

There have been more times than I’d like to admit that I’ve taken the “fake it ’til you make it” attitude and tried to act bigger than I was. Sometimes little things, sometimes big things. For example, introducing an intern as an employee. Or saying “we” on the phone at a time when the company was really just “me.”

I’m not listing this stuff here to tell on myself or because it’s a big deal — it’s not. But even tiny things like this can impact people from seeing who you really are. And if they can’t get to know who you really are now, how can they help you to become who you want to be in the future?

I once met a guy at a seminar who had his “fake it ’til you make it” presentation down — successful, wealthy, etc. Everybody was impressed, including me.

Then I saw him check out of the hotel and have multiple credit cards declined…

Look, we’ve all been there. I once left a hotel without checking out because I knew I was going to be in a similar situation, so I know how embarrassing it is. The good news that being honest doesn’t mean you have to announce everything, such as situations like this, to everybody you meet — you just have to slow down on the “fake it ’til you make it” stuff and come forward in a more authentic way. Basically, just done fake anything.

2. I Want It Done Right – I used to have the belief that if I wanted something done right, I had to do it myself. That’s what I told myself anyway.

And I acted on this, and proved it right by surrounding myself with bigger idiots than I was.

Everybody else saw this. A consultant I went to for advice once told me, “David, these people have a bargain in you. You don’t need them.”

So why did I keep bringing in extra people who weren’t needed? Because if something failed, I wanted to be able to share blame for that.

I can’t tell you how many times I see this in other people. One guy of a partnership is amazing, while the others are just taking up space…and taking credit.

This has been my biggest hurdle in business and I still struggle with it. If something doesn’t go well, it’s nice to know you’re not the only one around. From my experience though, if things do go wrong, I’m the only one left anyway because bad partners are the first to bail (and blame) when the chips are down.

So what’s the solution? Either partner good people who are pulling their weight or drop the idiots and learn how to take 100% responsibility for your endeavors and do them yourself.  Start on smaller projects, ones you are comfortable taking 100% of, if you have to — this might slow your growth a bit, but it’s better for you to learn this lesson now than later.

3. We’re Not Scared – We’re all scared of something and some of the most successful guys I know, at least financially, are terrified of losing everything. For example, I was at this meeting with some high-level guys a few months ago and they were literally counting gold coins and planning what they were going to do in the event of a stock market crash or some kind of currency takeover by the government. It was total InfoWars type stuff.

Could those things happen? Maybe. Will they? I doubt it. Most of the stuff we worry about doesn’t happen.

The reason I mention this isn’t to say you should be worried about anything, but to say that, if you are worried, it’s safe to admit it because everybody is worried about something.

4. We Don’t Have Problems – I used to go into business meetings with a very hard edge. Regardless of what was going on with me personally, I kept that approach.

Then I started dating a girl who had a drug problem and, once I found out about it, I broke down. And it wasn’t just any type of break down— it was right in the middle of a business negotiation.

So here I was, trying to be the tough guy who was going to get his way, and I’d been a very tough guy during previous negotiations, meeting with a woman just a few days after I’d figured what was going on with my girlfriend, when I just broke down crying.

And then what? I dropped the tough guy approach (or what was left of it) and told her everything that was happening.

“My brother is on crack,” she told me. “I haven’t seen or heard from him in a couple of years.”

Suddenly we were on the same side, boding more in just a few minutes than we had in hours of working together using my previous approach.

And the relationship was easy after that…

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but something I’ve found in dealing with people since is that if you’re first to admit something, they’ll often come around and admit to something similar. We’re all “on guard” so much, it’s nice to ease up on that and be known. If you can let people know it’s ok to do this by going first, they’ll often follow right behind you.

5. The Persona Works – The “persona” doesn’t work. A gay man in the closet doesn’t fool anybody, even with a wife and seven kids. And when we do the equivalent of this in our lives, like wearing a bad toupee, we’re not fooling anybody either.

In general, I’ve found that people have a pretty amazing BS detector. They may not know exactly what’s going on, but if you try to fake it, they’ll know something isn’t right.

The Bottom Line

I’ve already said something similar, but it’s worth saying again…

People aren’t interested in the person you’re pretending to be — they want permission to be who they are. By going first with who you really are, this gives then that.

To make this happen, you need to be both vulnerable and strong. Vulnerable, because it shows you’re just like they are, and strong because it shows them what is possible. You can do both by honoring what you bring to the table, taking total responsibility for what you do, being honest about your beliefs, and dropping the front.

Best wishes!

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.

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