Monday, July 4, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Believe in yourself

It is an ironic fact, but most of the time when we try to get something accomplished, the biggest hurdle to overcome is ourselves. In reality there are very few absolute barriers keeping us from doing whatever we set our eyes on, the thing that keeps us from truly achieving something is almost always self imposed.

It is true that there will be no shortage of people who will tell you that something isn't possible, or probable, or appropriate, or practical or any number of things that will keep your ideas and dreams from taking off. Those people have no real power over your life, unless you let them have it. If you start to worry that other people might think your grand idea is unreasonable, you are giving yourself another reason to talk yourself out of it.

As bad as giving power away to other people, the absolute worst enemy of your ideas is yourself. Everybody can come up with hundreds of reasons why what they want to do just isn't possible, or will have to wait until you make some more money, or whatever we tell ourselves.

This kind of thinking stems from not believing in yourself. When it comes to accomplishing things, self doubt comes from two main sources: Underestimating yourself and overestimating everybody else.

Underestimating our own abilities is very common. This is partly human nature, and partly social conditioning.

One part of the issue is that no one knows anybody else as well as they know themselves. Where our perceptions of others are based on the part of their lives they chose to share with us, we know every detail of our own internal worlds.

When someone does something we admire, we see very little of the failures, missteps, doubts and struggles they have faced in the process. We see the success they like to show off. When we face set back and hurdles in our own endeavors it is easy to be discouraged and think that our failures are caused by a defect or something missing in ourselves. Defects that successful people don't have.

Another and more subtle way people undermine themselves is when they become skilled in a specific subject or an art. The curse of getting better at something is that it comes with an increased awareness of how much you still don't know about something. When we become good at doing something, it is too easy to start seeing all the things that could be done better.

Of course, instead of focusing on how the skills we have can be put to use to help people with less knowledge, it is human knowledge to focus on everything we have yet to master. This mindset is easily recognized in thoughts like: "I really don't know enough about this subject to write anything about it", or "It would seem ridiculous if I displayed this photo when there are so many much better photographers than me in the world".

The second part of self doubt comes from our social interactions. Despite what most people will say, success often triggers jealousy and contempt. When someone is successful at something many people will react with trying to diminish this success. We all grow up with this ambivalence towards success. It is admired but also despised. This collective mindset towards success is often the reason why so many people are afraid of success.

As if self doubt wasn't a tough enough hurdle to overcome. Almost everyone makes the challenge that much more difficult by overestimating the skills and abilities of their peers.

Overestimating our competition is closely connected with the point I made above about how we only truly know our own thoughts. Without knowing the work and dedication that goes into other peoples work, it is easy to think that what comes hard for us comes easy to everybody else. This is just not the case, if you see what successful people say about how they accomplish things there are a few things that always stand out.

Success requires hard work, it requires dedicated effort and most importantly: Success is always found at the back of many failed attempts. Just like you, the worlds most successful people fail all the time. The 'secret' to be successful though is in how you look at failures. If you take a failed attempt as a signal to give up and try something else you will most likely never be able to accomplish remarkable things. If you accept failure and use it as a way to learn how to not do it when you try again you will find that you will climb ever closer to whatever goals you set.

The most profound insight I take from this knowledge is that people who are very successful at what they do are not magic or super intelligent or have any other unattainable properties that I don't have. Success is a result of a focused mindset, a way of thinking that can be learned. The first step to adopting this frame of mind is to stop doubting yourself. Instead, believe that you can do what you dream of doing. And if your efforts aren't immediately getting the results you want, that is ok. Failure is a prerequisite for success.

  1. Ah............just what I needed! Thanks for sharing!

  1. Ame
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  1. Ame

    Really great post. There's a quote by someone - maybe Thomas Edison? I can't remember, but it's:

    Most people can't find success because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like hard work! :)

    I also recently received an e-mail from Pick Your Brain that said, "If you haven't failed, then you haven't tried hard enough to live." So true.

  1. Be & do! Great point here HÃ¥vard:
    "Underestimating yourself and overestimating everybody else"

    Thanks, Paula

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