Please know that I say this because I respect you: You are full of crap.
I would know. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’m still full of crap; I’m just better at recognizing it than I used to be.
You might be as honest as they come when speaking to other people. But you lie to yourself all the time. These lies are the stories you create to explain the world around you and who you are within it.
Now, to be fair, you’re not aware that you’re lying. In most cases, you’re not even aware that you’ve made up any kind of story in the first place. That’s because we don’t call it storytelling. We call it “logic,” “analysis,” or “noting patterns.” These are all useful mental processes, but we tend to apply them incorrectly, setting countless limitations on ourselves and our potential.
Imagine you were bit by a big, terrifying dog when you were a child. Your mind immediately created a new belief in response to this traumatizing experience.
Dog = Danger
Now that you’re an adult, you know plenty of happy, doting dog owners. You see adorable pups dressed up in holiday cards from your friends, you see videos online of dogs cuddling with kittens, and you’ve probably even seen a morning show segment about some dog saving its owner’s life.
Despite all this, you still hate all dogs. In your mind, they are universally annoying, gross, potentially vicious, and unpredictable. You cannot see them any other way.
Many of the decisions you make every day are governed by belief systems just like this one… belief systems that tell you to put limitations on yourself, expect less from the world, and possibly even hold your team to a lower standard. You think you’re just operating with a strong grasp on reality. But you’re not.
Why Your Mind Lies to You
Your mind has one concern: keeping you safe. Your earliest memory of injury is proof of this. It only took one mistake to understand that fire is hot, bees sting, and it hurts to fall out of a tree. Your mind turned that lesson into a neon warning sign, ready to flash bright red at the sound of buzzing or the sensation of heat.
In cases such as these, your mind’s desperate need to protect you is helpful and practical. The problem is that your mind does the same thing with every negative experience, no matter how abstract or complicated.
I’ll use myself as an example. I struggled with a stutter for most of my life. As a child in school, I quickly “learned” that my stutter made others uncomfortable. The teacher would become impatient as I tried to answer a question, kids would laugh, and my stutter would get worse under the pressure. To protect me from future embarrassment or discomfort, my brain gave me a quick and easy rule to follow:
Don’t speak in public. You’re not good at it.
The truth is, there were probably several complicated reasons for the hurtful reactions I got from teachers and kids. Maybe the teacher was impatient because she was behind schedule. Or one kid laughed at me because it distracted from his own insecurities. Maybe another kid laughed because she was nervous on my behalf.
But the mind does not like this kind of complexity, because it doesn’t provide a clear guideline for avoiding pain. Our minds want to reduce our experiences into a simple system of logic that can protect us in the future. Fire is hot. Bees sting. I cannot express myself successfully in a group setting.
So, what did I do with this information? I avoided speaking in front of people whenever possible. That included staff meetings. I declared myself “The Ideas Guy” at 911 Restoration, innovating and strategizing from behind closed doors, tasking my CEO with the job of showing the team how to execute my vision. What resulted was a convoluted game of telephone. Because I wasn’t talking to my employees directly, they were stuck trying to fulfill second-hand instructions. We had poor communication, we lacked a unified vision, and my company suffered because of it.
In the end, I took on the role of CEO and worked with my team directly. It was painful at first. I stuttered my way through a lot of staff meetings. But the more I did it, the more comfortable I became. The more I focused on connecting with my staff instead of performing for them. As a result, we accelerated our growth, morale was at an all-time high, and—this is the kicker—I overcame my stutter. Because of that, I have been able to expand my career into public speaking and mentorship.
Let me tell you, it is shocking to discover that your longest-held belief about yourself has always been a bald-faced lie. It’s even more shocking to realize that the lie has prevented you from living a life of purpose.
How to Uncover the Truth
The greatest challenge that faces you as you try to overcome your own lies is your mind’s unwillingness to differentiate between fact and theory. It’s just “safer” if you believe you’re in debt because you’re not good with money. Or that your date didn’t go well because all the good ones are taken and only the crazy ones are left. Or that your sales are down because you don’t have what it takes to run a business.
By taking these explanations as absolute truth, you shut down the option of trying to overcome intimidating challenges. This eliminates the risk of failure and pain. You’re still stuck, yes, but you’re also safe. You’re comfortable. You know what you’re getting.
In fact, we take so much comfort in the status quo that we even think the same thoughts day after day after day. Seriously. It’s estimated that we think around 85,000 individual thoughts each day, and approximately 95% of those thoughts are the exact same thoughts we had the day before. No wonder you feel stuck!
If you want real growth for yourself and for your business, you have to break from your old mental habits and stop buying your own lies. One thing that can help is to notice when you feel that internal resistance as you face a new challenge. Take a moment to look at that fear or anxiety and consider where it might come from. Ask yourself, “Am I living in the past?”
Do you keep putting off that pitch to a high-value client because you failed speech and debate in high school?
Are you refusing to update your office’s technology because you feel old and obsolete when your kid helps you with computer problems at home?
Is your dream of becoming a business owner still just a dream because you know how it feels to fail massively and publicly?
Most importantly, how do you feel about the idea that you’re letting your past get in the way of your future?
Start looking at your decisions more critically. Challenge yourself to question the “absolute truths” that have determined the way you approach professional struggles.
Find the courage to confront the lies, release the past, and charge on towards the future that’s meant for you.
For more insight on overcoming mental limitations and cultivating a powerful new mindset, check out Idan Shpizear’s forthcoming book, How to Transform Your Mindset and Become a Self-Made Success Story, now available for pre-order on Amazon.