Breaking Through Limiting Beliefs for Greater Success
Your mindset can play a crucial role in determining your success in all aspects of your life. Limiting beliefs, those deeply ingrained thoughts that hold you back, can hinder your progress and prevent you from reaching your full potential.
These thoughts are sometimes so deep that we can cling tightly to them without even realising they are there. They could be inhibiting you from applying for a promotion or asking for a pay rise, moving house or finding a new partner. Or perhaps you have been sitting on a brilliant idea for a new business or project but something is stopping you from taking those first steps.
Another way limiting beliefs can show up for leaders in particular is in resistance to sharing ideas or working collaboratively. The inability to delegate can be due to a fear of losing control where you can feel like you have to do everything yourself because no one else cares as much or can do it as well as you can. This can be compounded by perfectionism, where you convince yourself that anything less than perfect will result in failure and you’ll be exposed to painful criticism.
Read on to discover seven steps to unlock your potential and overcome limiting beliefs.
Over time, limiting beliefs can erode our resilience, making us more susceptible to setbacks and failures. You may internalise failures as personal shortcomings, leading to a loss of motivation and a reluctance to bounce back. Resilience is crucial for leaders and entrepreneurs in particular who need to be robustly navigating challenges, learning from failures, and persevering in the face of adversity.
If you’ve experienced these types of thoughts, or experienced feeling like something is holding you back, then rest assured you are not alone. Most leaders have grappled with self-imposed limitations that have impeded their potential for success.
How to recognise limiting beliefs
Here are some signs that may indicate the presence of limiting beliefs in the for leaders in the workplace:
If you notice patterns of self-sabotage in your work, such as procrastination, avoidance of challenges, or consistently missing opportunities for growth, it could be a sign of limiting beliefs. These behaviours often stem from a fear of failure or a lack of belief in your abilities.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue. If you frequently engage in negative self-talk, criticise yourself excessively, or doubt your skills and potential, it may indicate the presence of limiting beliefs. Listen to the tone and content of your thoughts to identify any recurring negative patterns.
Fear of Taking Risks
If you find yourself consistently avoiding risks or playing it safe in your work, it could be due to limiting beliefs. Fear of failure, rejection, or judgement can prevent you from stepping outside your comfort zone and pursuing opportunities that carry inherent risks but also significant rewards.
Settling for Mediocrity
If you find yourself settling for less than what you desire or accepting mediocrity in your work, it may indicate a limiting belief that you are not capable of achieving more. This can lead to complacency and a lack of ambition or drive to reach higher levels of success.
Reluctance to Seek Feedback or Help
If you are hesitant to seek feedback or assistance from others, it could be a sign of a limiting belief that you should be able to handle everything on your own. This can prevent you from benefiting from the insights and support of others, hindering your personal and professional growth.
While striving for excellence is admirable, an extreme perfectionist mindset can be indicative of limiting beliefs. If you constantly feel the need to achieve flawless results and are highly self-critical when you fall short, it may indicate an underlying belief that anything less than perfect is not acceptable.
If you consistently set safe and easily achievable goals that do not challenge or stretch you, it could suggest the presence of limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs can restrict your vision of what is possible, leading to modest goals that do not reflect your true potential.
Becoming aware of these signs and recognising when limiting beliefs may be influencing your thoughts and behaviours is the first step to overcoming them.
Take the time to reflect on your mindset and beliefs, and consider seeking support from mentors, coaches, or peers who can provide objective perspectives and help you spot, challenge and overcome these limitations.
How to overcome limiting beliefs – Seven steps to unlock your potential
Let’s look at some of the effective strategies to help you overcome limiting beliefs and thrive as a senior leader.
1. Spot or Recognise Your Limiting Beliefs
The first step towards overcoming limiting beliefs is to identify them. Take time for self-reflection and examine your thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions. What beliefs are holding you back? Are there any recurring patterns of negative thinking or self-doubt? Becoming aware of these limiting beliefs is essential to begin the process of change.
2. Challenge Your Beliefs: And those limiting beliefs imposed by others
Once you’ve recognised a limiting belief, it’s time to challenge them. Start by questioning their validity. Are these beliefs based on facts or are they assumptions? Or simply someone else’s narrow or subjective view. Often, limiting beliefs stem from past experiences, poorly handled or negative feedback. Reflect on those experiences objectively and consider alternative viewpoints. Seek evidence that contradicts your limiting beliefs and open your mind to new possibilities. By doing this for yourself you can learn how to navigate imposed limiting beliefs.
3. Reframe Negative Thoughts
Negative self-talk is a common manifestation of limiting beliefs. Replace negative thoughts with helpful, more positive, empowering affirmations. For example, instead of thinking, “I am not qualified for this role,” reframe it as, “I have a unique skill set that makes me an asset in this position whilst developing myself in areas I have less skills at this stage.” Reframing helps rewire your thinking and reinforces a growth mindset, enabling you to see opportunities rather than obstacles.
I have always doubted my own abilities, despite the belief, support and guidance I have received from managers and peers alike. Because of this I have spent many years side stepping.
Joanne has helped me to understand where these self-limitations have come from and be more confident by highlighting where my fears lay and breaking them down into something that is manageable rather than insurmountable. When these feelings of self-doubt arise now, I am now able to rationalise these thoughts and talk myself down from feeling like an imposter!
I’ve felt safe to be myself with Joanne and open up to the challenges and fears I felt have stopped me from progressing. Sometimes we think we know ourselves better than anyone else, but it has been truly eye-opening having Joanne’s insight and it’s also been positively career changing.
– Tammy W | Communications Programme Manager
4. Embrace a Growth Mindset
Adopting a growth mindset is crucial for senior leaders. Understand that your abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and experience. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and view failures as valuable lessons that propel you forward. A growth mindset enables you to break free from limiting beliefs, build your resilience and opens doors to continuous improvement and success.
5. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences or forces for good
The people you surround yourself with significantly impact your mindset. Seek out individuals who inspire and uplift you. Engage with mentors, coaches, or like-minded peers who support your growth and challenge your limiting beliefs. Collaborate with a diverse range of individuals who bring different perspectives, allowing you to broaden your horizons and break free from self-imposed limitations.
6. Take Action and Persist
Overcoming limiting beliefs requires action. Create new habits that align with your aspirations and break them down into manageable steps. Take consistent action towards your objectives, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone. Celebrate small victories along the way, as they reinforce your belief in your abilities and help you overcome further challenges.
7. Seek Continuous Learning and Development
As a senior leader, the journey to success is a lifelong pursuit. You can invest in your personal and professional development by seeking new knowledge, attending seminars, enrolling in relevant courses or executive coaching. Acquiring new skills and expanding your knowledge base not helps improve your confidence but also helps you overcome any limiting beliefs related to competence or expertise.
Overcoming limiting beliefs is essential for achieving greater success in all areas of your life. By recognising and challenging these beliefs, reframing negative thoughts, embracing a growth mindset, and surrounding yourself with positive influences, you can break free from self-imposed limitations.
Are limiting beliefs holding you back?