It is amazing how much I have gotten in my way. I think that may be a challenge for many people. Especially if you are in any type of leadership position. Because if you are a leader, you have to worry a lot about other people. Which makes it easy to lose yourself in the process. It happens slowly, of course. And you may never notice if you don’t stop and think about it.

A long time ago I learned about something called “limiting beliefs.” This is when you start to paint yourself into a psychological corner.

These are sneaky things, these limiting beliefs. Because you unwittingly build yourself a mental prison with them. And when you hold yourself, hostage, it works better than any outside force.

A limiting belief is a thing that stops you from even trying something because you have already decided it won’t work. Or it isn’t worth it. Or you are not that type of person for such a job, task or work. That’s the worst…when you start to build these things into your identity.

It can seem like a subtle thing, but it is quite powerful. It’s the difference between thinking “I’m not a good public speaker” and “I’m not good at public speaking yet.” These are two different statements and have varied meanings.

When you identify as a poor public speaker (or whatever your chosen limitation is), you are making that part of your self-image which is a sinister way of letting yourself off the hook. While the later mean you are not good at it yet but can learn and be better. Because if you were born a poor public speaker, then fate has spoken and there is nothing you can do about it but whine like a baby. But, if public speaking were an acquired skill, you could work at it. You would have to admit that anyone building a new skill is going to be bad at it for a while. Then, if they keep trying and practicing, getting feedback and working to improve, they will get better.

You weren’t born “good at math” or “a bad listener” but lots of people tell themselves stories like that all the time.

I have told myself lots of stories like that, and I’m sure that I still do but I have also worked to identify and work around many limiting beliefs. And that has made all the difference.

It turns out that with practice, patience and determination, I could build a series of skills that led to success in many areas.

To do this, I did have to be bad at things until I could get better at them. I had to respect the process of incremental improvement.

Recently, I started working on my Networking Skills. Meeting new people and striking up a conversation is quite exciting and easy for some people but for some of us, it’s not such an easy task. I had to be willing to be uncomfortable, confused, and risk looking foolish sometimes. But every time it has been worth it.


I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I had to be forgiving of myself. I had to remind myself that I am a beginner and this whole thing is going to take time. The same is true for skills at work. Maybe it is making better presentations, leading meetings, collaborating across groups, or coaching staff. Whatever you want to get better at, the secret is to do it more, not less.

It will be awkward at first. Then only slightly better. But over time, your skills will build. And those evolving skills will open up more opportunities for you to grow and to do even more.

It is likely that whatever you feel is holding you back could be changed by the development of some type of skill or experience. If you can get yourself started, you can improve that skill or gain that experience over time.

Maybe it is you that is holding you back in some way. There might be something you believe about yourself that just isn’t true. It might be something that can be changed if you work at it.

And if you change it, you might work around a roadblock or simply open up more new routes to success.

Thanks for reading.



Lanre Yusuf

Vice President. Business Operations. Techspecialist Consulting Limited

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