When I start working with a new client, one of the first questions I ask is, “What is it that keeps you from being successful? What is it you must overcome for your business to grow?” Recently, someone answered that question with, “The voices inside my head.”
I knew instantly what he was talking about. I hear the voices, too – we all do. They say things like:
“I don’t have enough experience.”
“It is hard to get referrals.”
“I’m not charismatic enough.”
“I stink at sales.”
“I’m not a good leader.”
“I don’t have a degree.”
“My peers are all doing better than me. I must be broken.”
“What works for everybody else doesn’t work for me.”
These are just a few of the reasons we give ourselves for why we can’t achieve the success we want.
And in most cases, they’re all lies.
In his book The Dip, Seth Godin says the vast majority of us have the talent to be the best in the world at what we do. Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what he means by the “best in the world.” He doesn’t use this term in the literal sense; he means you can be the best in your world, meaning your target market.
According to Godin, there are seven reasons you might fail to become the best in the world at what you do:
- You run out of time (and quit).
- You run out of money (and quit).
- You get scared (and quit).
- You’re not serious about it (and quit).
- You lose interest or enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit).
- You focus on the short term instead of the long (and quit when the short term gets too hard).
- You pick the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world (because you don’t have the talent).
Of all these reasons why you might not achieve the success you want, note that only #7 is actually a good reason to quit. The other six relate in some way to the lies you are told by the voices in your head.
What to do with the voices
Here’s the secret: you’re going to hear those voices in your head, but how you respond to them is a choice you make.
One of my favorite Simon Sinek quotes is from his “free bagels” story. He says, “…there’s two ways to see the world. Some people see the thing that they want, and some people see the thing that prevents them from getting what they want.”
When you hear the voices, you can respond in one of two ways:
- Yell, “Roadblock!” and give up.
- Tell the voices they’re lying and find a way to work around the obstacle.
The hardest part of stopping the voices in your head is not figuring out how to stop them. There are dozens of books and articles all over the internet on how to get rid of “head trash” and overcome other obstacles to your success. The hardest part is deciding you’re going to do it.
If you aren’t good at sales, there are plenty of people who are that can do it for you. If you aren’t a good leader, the internet is awash with outstanding resources on leadership. If you don’t have a degree, so what? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know didn’t go to college. If what works for everybody else doesn’t work for you, hire a coach who can identify why and what you can do about it.
Which will you choose? Are you going to keep your eyes on the thing you want, or will you only see the thing you think stands in your way?