Limiting beliefs (as we talked about here) can hold us back from so many opportunities. Limiting beliefs are often about people or situations around us. As leaders some examples of ways you might be letting limiting beliefs blind you are thinking things like:
- Men make better leaders than women. Or vice versa.
- Introverts cannot lead.
- Moms are too distracted to do a good job.
- Someone that doesn’t look like (fill in the blank) ________ won’t fit in.
We base these thoughts on gender, race, age, how someone dresses, how someone speaks, religion, political affiliation, and a million other things. And often they are based on our past experiences. The problem lies in us thinking they are always true.
So how do we keep limiting beliefs from sabotaging us?
- Be aware that we all have a tendency to gravitate towards (and give the benefit to) those who are most like us.
Ask yourself if your belief really has any merit (even if 99 people out of a hundred do X, Y, Z that doesn’t mean the 100th does).
- Actively look for evidence to disprove your belief.
- Ask yourself what impact this belief has had on your life. What have you not done, who have you not given a chance, what relationships have you missed out on because you let limiting beliefs guide you?
- Modify the belief to better serve you by choosing to give the benefit of the doubt. Ask questions and really listen to people that are different from you.
From my own experience, once I began to recognize my limiting beliefs, I had far more than I wanted to admit. And when I actually looked for evidence to disprove them, none of them could stand the test. That helped open my eyes to the realization that limiting beliefs are just that – limiting. Sure, they are true sometimes, but believing they will always be true does nothing but hold me back.
Many of you may be familiar with the anecdote that it took Thomas Edison about 1,000 attempts to successfully invent the light bulb. What if after the first attempt he had the limiting belief that inventing the light bulb was obviously impossible? We might all still be sitting in the dark.
What limiting beliefs are holding you back? Where do you most struggle with limiting beliefs – beliefs about yourself or others?
Limiting beliefs can be especially damaging to teams. As the leader, what beliefs do you, your team members or your team as a whole hold on to that are limiting your success?