The beliefs we choose to hold about ourselves, our circumstances, our work, the future and our ability to influence that future unquestionably define the outcomes we achieve in life, including at work.
Seven beliefs that impact upon our ability to build a successful career are the subject of this article. These beliefs are those that have had the greatest influence on my own career as well as those of many other people I’ve met or observed in business and life. Successful people often describe these beliefs, examples of which I will share below.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else
1. Believe you create your own reality
What we choose to think, feel and ultimately do, defines the reality we create. Choosing to believe life is outside of your control and success a matter of luck will only lead to a sense of helplessness and a life built on chance. As Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Dreaming about our future and choosing to act to make those dreams come true is fundamental to success.
2. Believe in what you are doing
Choosing to work in a job or pursue a career that has little meaning for you is unlikely to see you thrive. As Richard Branson said, “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” When we love what we do and believe it matters our spirit is energised becoming the fuel of our success. To quote one of my favourite businesswomen Oprah Winfrey “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” If you are struggling to get out of bed, let alone thrive at work, start by asking yourself whether or not you believe in what you are doing.
3. Believe you are capable
Being aware of and respecting our capabilities means we are more likely to apply them when needed. Doubting what we are capable of can cause us to hesitate and miss opportunities that come along. This is especially true when we are asked to step outside of our comfort zone and try new things we haven’t done before. In that moment choosing to believe we can succeed is critical to the next choice that must follow – to give it a go. As inspiring businesswoman Alice Foote MacDougall said, “It is the small doubts of timid souls that accomplish their ruin. It is the narrow vision, the fear and trembling hesitation, that constitute defeat.”
4. Believe in your potential
Limiting self-belief is the most common reason I observe for people living a less than fulfilling work life. As Brian Tracy said “The outer limit of your potential is determined solely by your own beliefs and your own confidence in what you think is possible.” Why not you? While there are many things you are likely to need to learn and capabilities you need to develop in order to achieve ambitious goals, choose to believe that you as much as the next person are capable of finding the way to succeed.
5. Believe you will overcome challenge
It’s inevitable that we will go through times in our careers that are challenging or frustrating. Feeling stuck in a role or stage of career can cause the most driven among us to give up the fight and settle for second best. As Michael Jordan said, “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Keep striving knowing that only you can change the circumstances you find yourself in. Avoid the trappings of a victim mentality. Yes life can be challenging but our belief that we are ultimately the masters of our own destiny is essential to overcoming the obstacles life can throw in our way.
6. Believe you can learn
It’s natural that at various stages of your career you won’t have all of the knowledge, skills or experience you need to take the next steps. Too often I observe people plateau in their careers because they believe stepping up to the next level of contribution seems beyond their reach. These people choose to believe that they have reached their limits and doubt their ability to learn and grow further. While some things will take greater time or efforts its critical that we first choose to believe we can grow. As Pablo Picasso said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
7. Believe its OK to be YOU
Having the courage to be authentically who you are is essential to success. Of course our ability to build healthy relationships with the people we work with matters, but if that comes as the expense of being true to ourselves, it’s not worth it. You are entirely unlikely to thrive if you choose to believe you have to hide away behind a façade. Too often I meet people acting out what they believe other people expect them to be. They struggle to ‘fall in line’ and behave within the safe boundaries of conventional thinking an expectations. You will never bring your full potential if you are scared to bring your full self. A Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
Karen is a highly-regarded author, speaker, advisor and educator in the field of human performance and leadership. She brings a fresh and down to earth approach, advocating a methodology focused on leveraging both talent and energy to drive great results. She is passionate about guiding women to reach their full potential and to step up to the challenges of the business world.
Karen founded HR consultancy Ryan Gately in 2006, after 8 years as Human Resources Director – Asia Pacific with The Vanguard Group. She is the author of two leadership titles, The Corporate Dojo and The People Manager’s Toolkit (Wiley, 2013). Her approach is deeply rooted in the 25 years spent training and teaching karate. She was the youngest person in Shukokai karate awarded a 1st Dan black belt at age 14 and won multiple state, national and international titles.