How Do You Limit Yourself?

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iStock_000011147119XSmallI’ve been talking in-depth to a lot of entrepreneurs over the last few weeks, and I’m more convinced than ever that we should be classified as a subspecies of humanity. There are just so many ways that we’re like each other — and unlike everybody else.

But what has been coming through the loudest is the way we limit ourselves. No matter what our business is, or how much we’re able to help our clients, most of us are hung up in some way or another by two things: 1.) the distraction of bright shiny objects and 2.) our own limiting beliefs.

“Bright Shiny Object” Syndrome
Bright Shiny Object Syndrome shows up in two ways: You may know you’ve got Bright Shiny Object Syndrome because everything that looks or sounds more interesting will invariably distract you and pull you away from what you’re doing, and you’re aware of it. You know what’s happening, but you can’t help yourself — the project you’re working on was interesting when you thought of it, but it’s not so interesting now that you actually have to put the pieces together and do it. However, that new idea over there — hey, now that has a lot of potential! And so you abandon the current project in favor of the new, shiny project with all the possibilities. And you dig into the new project with gusto until the next bright shiny object grabs your attention. And so on.

Or you may have “Hidden” Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. With this strain of the disease, the exact same thing happens, but you’re not consciously aware of it — you just beat yourself up because you can’t finish anything. You don’t exactly know why — you’re not aware of the new shiny objects taking your focus away, but the results are the same: lots of unfinished projects.

Both of these versions of the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, whether you know you have it or you don’t, will wipe you out and leave you feeling lost, distracted, overwhelmed, stuck, stagnant, anxious, and guilty. Lots of stuff on your plate but no forward motion. No direction. And definitely limiting for your business — with a vague sense that it’s your fault.

Our Own Limiting Beliefs
It’s actually amazing that we do this to ourselves. I mean, here we are — entrepreneurs, for crying out loud. We’ve done difficult things — we’ve put it all out there by starting businesses! People think we have all the confidence in the world. But we don’t. Many of us are second-guessing ourselves all the time.

Maybe this happened because you left a big business or corporate situation, where you had a big machine behind you and, sure, it was easy to be confident with that kind of name and back-up. But now, on your own, it’s just little old you — what if they find out you don’t know everything? (Which is ridiculous, of course, who does know everything?) Believe me, no one expects that — your clients are far too busy to be worrying about what you do or don’t know, and they’re not hiring you for everything. Are you good at what you do? Can you back it up? Do you have resources to fill in the gaps for the parts you can’t personally handle? Good. That’s all you need.

Or maybe you have it in your mind that you have to measure up to some kind of ideal or pass some kind of invisible test before you can graduate to being “an expert” or be thought worthy to teach, train, or give advice. Who’s going to finally give you permission to be that expert, to move your company up a notch, to be great? It’s certainly not going to come from your competitors, and your prospects and clients are waiting to hear it from you. If you know how to do something that other people don’t, and it’s something valuable that can help them and they’re willing to pay for it, then you’re an expert already. Claim it and move on. Add some cool whiz-bang products or services and move your company up that notch. Just be sure to keep sharpening your skill — keep learning and giving your clients the benefit of your increased knowledge.

As the comic strip “Pogo” once put it, “I have seen the enemy, and he is us.” We limit ourselves.

So, do you recognize yourself here? Does any of this strike a chord with you? I’d love to hear your take on it, and what you do about it.

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