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9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

9 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keeps You Away From Success

“Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.”
-Steve Maraboli

We all make excuses and tell ourselves lies to avoid success. I should add, we do that to avoid the challenge, the blood, the sweat, and the tears. It is really taking the easy way out but that is denying us the chance of fame and power. The lies are barriers to achievement and fulfillment. Here are 9 lies that you probably tell yourself to avoid success.

1. I must never fail

People are afraid of failure. They are right. It ruins everything. You tell yourself that failure is not on the agenda.

The truth is that all the greatest entrepreneurs know about failure. They have all experienced it, although they may not talk much about it. But those who do all have one message. Failure was a learning experience.

Just look at J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter books. She was at one point suicidal as she feared she could not make enough money to feed her children! Yet, she persisted and now she has sold over 400 million books and is the second richest woman in the UK. Think of each setback as a building block to success.

Richard Branson has a string of failed projects to his name. Just think of Virgin Cola, Virgin Cards, Virgin Clothes, Virgin Vie and Virgin Vodka!

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
–Michael Jordan

2. I just need a lucky break

As you tell yourself this, you visualize success. The problem is that the chances of this lucky break happening are about the same as winning the lottery. There is another issue here. You are deceiving yourself in thinking that the winners have always had it easy and have never had to struggle. They got lucky and they never had to deal with grinding poverty, unfair competition, and backbreaking hard work.

The reality is a lot different. It takes nerve, determination, persistence, and a vision to succeed. The lucky break may come but waiting around is not going to make that happen.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
–J.K.Rowling

3. I do not have the courage

You are basically scared and are not prepared to make that courageous leap. You lie to yourself that fear is holding you back. If you are a manager, you may be avoiding staff problems because of a lack of courage. Your business may suffer. When you are in a relationship, fear may hold you back from expressing your real feelings and emotions. You may lose your partner because of this.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

4. I must do everything myself

If you deceive yourself about this, you will never be able to surround yourself with top level team members who will really make a difference. If you persist in this, you are likely to end up micromanaging. You will never be able to delegate because you do not know the skill set of each of your team members. You will never win their loyalty, trust, and confidence. This does not only apply to your team but also to all your business contacts. This is one of the reasons why Richard Branson is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.”
–Richard Branson

5. I must wait for the right moment

You think that there will be the perfect niche and you will know when to pounce on it to make it into a roaring success. You just have to wait until the time is right and you keep putting things off.

If Gutenberg had persisted in that belief we would never have had the printing press. Nobody wanted books then!

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”
-Napoleon Hill

6. I am not clever enough

So you think that successful people are really intelligent? You might be shocked to know that their IQ accounts for only about 25% of their success. The other 75% is due to their ability to network, their optimism, and their emotional intelligence.

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If you are telling yourself this lie, try to assess what your networking abilities and EQ are before beating yourself up about your lack of intelligence or formal qualifications. Common sense and social interaction skills will beat an MBA any day of the week.

“Hope is a talent like any other.”
-Storm Jameson

7. I haven’t got the right personality

If you think that personality is so important, think again! Look at the greatest success stories on this planet. Bill Gates is an introvert, Barack Obama has been described as aloof while Mark Zuckerberg is shy.

There are some fascinating insights into the personalities of people who have had enormous success. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. is well worth a read.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, measure your self-esteem. This is what really counts.

“He is shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm,”
-Sheryl Sandberg talking about Zuckerberg to The New York Times.

8. I never have enough money

You probably lie to yourself that all these successful people had loads of money to start with so they had it real easy. But throwing money at a project is not going to make it work. Instead of blaming the lack of funding, think of all the other factors that can make a project work. This may include planning, setting goals and objectives, team building, just to mention a few.

“The manager who comes up with the right solution to the wrong problem is more dangerous than the manager who comes up with the wrong solution to the right problem.”
–Peter Drucker

9. I know what works so I will continue with that

This is a fallacy because it can lead to stagnation. It is a dangerous lie too. The world is changing every minute. There are implications for your competitors and your markets. It also reduces your possibility of saving money on a more efficient solution or at looking at innovation. This is the dynamism of the business world. If you get stuck in a rut, you will never achieve success.

We have seen that success rarely falls into the lap of a person, unless they are born into a rich family. Even that is not a guarantee of achievement. The above examples show that determination, persistence, courage and vision are what really count in success. Time to stop lying to ourselves.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
-Lao Tzu

Featured photo credit: Lies/Ged Carroll via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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