I had the opportunity this week to speak at a local high school in Brooklyn, NY that proved to be an eye opening experience. I hadn’t been in a high school classroom in nearly 20 years and although I have cousins and other friends of family, etc. who are currently going through the high school experience I wasn’t sure what to expect. A bit nervous wondering how I would be received, and if what I had to say would be seen as something of value. It was career day. How I was going to fit the journey of my professional and personal life experience in a 10 min oration? Had any of these kids even heard of a life coach before? Would they understand what I did and the purpose of my role? How would my previous 13 year career as a respected model agent and Director of division translate to their world? Furthermore, would any of them be interested in what I had to offer?
These were all of these questions running through my head and to be quite honest I was a nervous wreck on the inside. Afraid of children? Who was I at this moment? I love to speak, have given countless interviews for a variety of media outlets to include TV, yet here I was…, a well-educated, skilled professional with 15 years of successful experience questioning everything.
How many times have you had that feeling? One of Fear. Fear of something so trivial that when you look back at it you can’t help but to laugh at yourself.
Fear is defined as: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
If we know this to be true then what was I so afraid of?
In my mind I knew that speaking in front of these children was not going to cause me any sort of harm and they certainly weren’t a threat, so what was the big deal? Looking back upon it now I realize that the anxiety I had going into to that morning had absolutely nothing to do with the kids, the environment, or any other outside forces. It became clear that it wasn’t fear at all that I was dealing with, but rather the result of a Self-Limiting Belief I had designed for myself way back when.
So just what are Self-Limiting Beliefs?
Self-Limiting Beliefs are mental models and assumptions about ourselves and our world that we believe to be absolute truths. Typically we arrive to these models through experience as children and they stick with us as we move into our adult lives. Many times they are completely irrational and false but because we adopt them at such an early age we subconsciously set the bar to their standards.
Examples of this could be the following:
I’m not good enough. I am not smart enough. I don’t deserve to have certain things. I am not pretty enough. I’m not cool. I’m don’t have enough experience. I’m too young/ old. I don’t offer enough value. I am not a dancer. I am not a writer. Etc…
In the case of my example above I was face to face with the self-limiting belief that my career choices might not be legit enough because they weren’t your typical mainstream positions.
Needless to say, once I checked myself, I got through the morning with flying colors and it proved to be quite the learning experience for not only the kids but myself included. As it turns out they could relate unequivocally to my experience and were completely engaged in all I had to offer.
So what does any of this have to do with you?
Well, the truth of the matter is that we all fall victim to these limiting beliefs and the first step to shifting them is recognizing that they exist. Because we most often view these assumptions as truths we rarely question why we feel this way.
I challenge you this week to take a few min and start a list of your belief system of yourself both positive and negative and see where you land.
Once you have your list underway start asking yourself what is it that makes each negative belief true for you? For example, you might believe you are too old to start a new career because someone once told you that hiring managers primarily look for young fresh talent they can easily mold. Or that it’s too hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
Next, I encourage you to challenge this belief with new information. Ask yourself what is this limiting belief preventing you from doing? With this example, by believing that it’s too hard to teach an old dog new tricks you could be limiting the potential of executing your true purpose in life or maximizing your earning potential. Pigeonholing yourself into a career or job that is dead end and doesn’t really serve you.
The key now is to find new evidence to support and create a new belief. With this example, shift your belief in a positive direction using supporting evidence to reflect the benefits a hiring manager might find in hiring an older more experienced candidate. An example might be, less time and resources for the organization to spend on tactical training. Or having advanced successful field experience to bring to the table and your new team. Etc… By doing this you have now given yourself leveraged advantage over your competition to accomplish what you set out to do.
When your belief system changes in a positive way you automatically gain strength and start living in the light that makes you authentic. So start believing in yourself and all the possibilities that lie ahead. Watch as your actions towards things change for the better right before your eyes. Before you know it you are challenging yourself to try new things that have the potential to shift the entire trajectory of your life.
Paulo Coelho says “you are what you believe yourself to be”.
Imagine how powerful your life could be if you just believe.