“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.” -- Dalai Lama XIV
If you had met me 20 years ago, you would have deemed me a success. I was flourishing as a lawyer, making good money and keeping up appearances. In some ways I was successful, but on the inside I was deeply unsatisfied with the path I had chosen. Opportunities for creativity eluded me, and I was bored. With boredom came dissatisfaction, and I knew I needed to look for something more.
The problem was I remained locked into someone else’s definition of success. There was terror when I thought of doing something else, especially striking out and becoming an entrepreneur. What would everyone think, giving up such a lucrative and stable career?
It took work to drop those beliefs and forge my own way, but with courage I did drop those limiting ideas about myself, moved to the U.S. and started my own company. In time that became more successful startups, a venture capital fund, a book deal, tons of speaking gigs, and more importantly, a happy family and a loving home. I feel more successful than ever, and I know I’m just beginning.
Limiting beliefs can keep you small and stuck, but they don’t have to. You can drop those beliefs with just a little bit of awareness, and live the life you were meant to live. Your brain is a wonderful tool, so let it work for you, and ditch these beliefs that will keep you from your success.
1. Someone else’s approval defines your success.
It seems counterintuitive to define your own success, when you’re bombarded by ads and stories all day long of what success means. Sometimes, the definition of success seems like it’s living up to your family’s expectations or your superior’s definition of achievement. You want to look good in society’s eyes, and seem like a success on the outside to gain validation.
But I say this sincerely: at the end of the day, your personal definition of success is the only one that matters. No one takes their dying breath and says, “At least I have a bigger boat than my neighbor’s!”
True happiness comes from your inner landscape -- things like loving yourself, providing for your family, having happy moments with friends and feeling proud of how you are making a living. You’re in charge of how you define your success; whatever fulfills you on a soul level is what you should aim at achieving.
Though it can be difficult to cast off the opinions of others who matter to you, no one else knows what your fulfillment looks like; therefore, no one else can tell you what your success should be.
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2. You think you need a full-life plan laid out in order to start.
I can’t tell you how many budding entrepreneurs I’ve coached through feeling frozen in place. Just out of college, they view the vast landscape of possibilities ahead of them and think their whole life plan must be in place before they take a step. The same thing happens later in life to seasoned entrepreneurs, who want to start a new project; they don’t know how to begin a task so large, so they don’t begin at all.
It seems such a simple truth, but if you don’t begin, you’ll never get anywhere. People, who are afraid to start, think if they start down one road, they can’t correct course midstream, which just isn’t true. Even the best-laid plans have hiccups, so course corrections are almost always necessary. In fact, some of my most successful colleagues were in a completely different field before they decided to pivot and end up in something new.
Go into your plans carefully -- one step at a time -- but take those first steps and believe that when you get to a crossroads, you will know which path to take. Keep in mind your ultimate purpose, the overarching vision that you desire, and you will never be led astray. The journey is part of the fun so don’t be afraid if you don’t see all the twists and turns in the beginning.
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3. You’re afraid to fail.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail. Fail again. Fail better.” -- Samuel Beckett
I’ve done countless interviews with extremely successful CEOs and founders and found that many of them have stories of breakdowns and catastrophes. Whether large or small failures, those people who have made it to the top tiers of all endeavors have experienced outcomes that were less than what they wanted. Do you think any Olympic athlete made it so far without losing countless races?
Failure is not the end of the world. In actuality, failure is one of the primary ways that you will learn, grow and develop courage and fortitude. Failure teaches you how to be humble, empathetic and creative - all necessary traits for successful people. Being afraid to fail is understandable. However, once you understand that failure is not only inevitable, but it’s part of the process, it won’t be so scary.