I recently had the opportunity to attend an international conference where the world’s top life and financial services agents are invited to learn and collaborate. While there, I met a young American woman who had a small, but very successful insurance agency in a large metropolitan city. I listened as she shared her personal successes, trials and tribulations that she had encountered over the years. What struck me during her storytelling was the following comment “The hardest part of having an agency in my area is that my hiring options are the bottom of the barrel.” As an individual and small business development consultant, this comment caught my attention. “Tell me more about that.” I asked. “Well,” she continued, “I have to compete with major corporations in the area for employees, so by the time they are done picking the cream of the crop, I am stuck with the leftovers.” As compelled as I was to pursue this comment, I reigned in my coach’s curiosity and we both rejoined the festivities of the awards dinner we were attending.
I still think back to this successful young woman and wonder where and how she developed this limiting belief about her hiring pool. By definition, a belief is the acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty (Encarta dictionary). A limiting belief is a personal belief, typically about ourselves, that can constrain or hold us back in some way. Some common limiting beliefs include: the feeling of not being enough, the feeling that nothing ever works out, the feeling of not deserving success, the idea that you have no control or this is “just the way it is”, the feeling of being powerless, the idea that others needs are more important than our own, the idea that there is not enough time, or the idea that you need to be right. The list goes on and on.
Limiting beliefs can have negative effects on our careers because they can prevent us from taking-action or pursuing interests or goals. Overtime, our limiting beliefs can shape our reality. We all have limiting beliefs, it’s how we acknowledge and work through them that can keep us at a standstill or propel us into our desired state of being.
Let’s revisit the statement I shared above that caught my attention at a recent conference, “The hardest part of having an agency in my area is that my hiring options are the bottom of the barrel” (closely related to the compound limiting belief, “I am a victim that has no control”). If this business owner holds this belief to be true, how does it impact her and the success of her business? Does this belief change how she interacts with her employees on a daily basis or what expectations she establishes for them? Probably. It might even impact how much time she is willing to invest in their professional development. I am going to guess that this limiting belief results in a culture low employee engagement and high-levels of turn over. The overarching result is a negative impact on her business growth and success. This woman had demonstrated success, but what could success look like without that limiting belief?
Norman Vincent Peale the author of the well-known book, The Power of Positive Thinking, states “change your thoughts and you change your world.” The trick is knowing how to change your thoughts which requires you to start with your limiting beliefs.
Step 1. Identify the limiting belief(s) that you hold.
Nikki Stansfield is trained as a professional coach and loves to support anyone who wants to intentionally create something meaningful within their professional lives.