"There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge."—Napoleon Hill
It has been conclusively demonstrated that individuals who expect to succeed at a given venture are more likely to do so than those who expect to fail. Positive expectations work as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy—those who expect to succeed are more likely to do so, thus maintaining and reinforcing their expectation for success.
Today, we are going to take this analysis one step further and address the underlying cause of these expectations.
The expectations we have for ourselves are largely determined by our self-image. The opinion you have of yourself directly impacts your expectations and thus your chances for success in ventures of all sorts.
If you consider yourself a slow learner, chances are you will remain so.
If you believe that you cannot learn a foreign language, you aren’t likely to do so.
If you believe that you can’t grow a profitable business, chances are that you never will.
As Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right."
The key to unlocking success in business and in life, therefore, lies in creating a strong self-image. How can you do this?
Don’t dwell on negativity. All people experience failure at some point in their lives. Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school basketball team. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in the 1980s before returning in the late 1990s. Failure is inevitable—when it happens, learn your lesson and move on!
Step out of your comfort zone. The best way to construct a positive self image is to prove to yourself that you can succeed. Successes, even small ones, create a serotonin release in your brain and this makes you feel good , encouraging you to challenge yourself further. Whether it is learning a new language, mastering a new skill, or even something as simple as reading a book that you have been procrastinating, setting and achieving goals is essential to create a strong self image.
Create a list of accomplishments and refer to it regularly. Once your mind has developed a habit of negativity, it takes work to change it. Keep a list of your accomplishments, both big and small, and refer to it often. Stars keep their Oscars and athletes their trophies, create your own success wall or shelf. Over time, you will begin to see yourself as you really are...an individual with unlimited potential.
Sure, concrete limitations do exist. No matter how strongly you believe in yourself, you can’t flap your arms and fly. But the truth is that, for most people, their perceived limitations are far more restrictive than their true limitations.
In order to achieve the success you desire, both in business and in life, it is essential that you remove the limitations you have placed on yourself. And it all starts with a strong self image. The tips discussed above will help.
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[Image: Flickr user Kris Krug]