As self-employed professionals, we are always looking for ways to get ahead — ways to reduce costs, get more clients, increase profits, and enjoy our businesses more. We learn the latest marketing tactics, read how others have found success, develop beautiful marketing materials, and a host of other ways that are sure to get us more business. Yet often times, it seems like something is holding us back.
What we often do not realize is that we hold ourselves back. For whatever reasons, we keep ourselves from achieving our greatest potential. Many times, this comes from what we learned as children. Some people like to call this baggage. I do not. This seems to make it too negative, almost insurmountable. I like to look at it as habits and nothing more. I know psychologist will differ with me on this, but that is okay, I do not pretend to know things from that point of view. I just know how owners of small businesses look at things and how they can get to where they want to be.
I recently asked a question on Linkedin, the social networking site for professionals. “As a self-employed professional, what are the more difficult obstacles you have faced when it comes to building your business?” I have received 20 answers so far. Some are lengthy; some are concise. Yet the one that reflects the obstacle I see most often was answered by Matt McKee.
“Overcoming my self-limiting beliefs! I was taught that you do not talk to strangers, money is a private matter (and therefore not for conversation), and, if someone praises you, they generally want something from you.”
“Now, I know better. Strangers are friends and clients you have not met yet. Money is how they show you how valuable you are to them. And, if someone praises you, they may want something, but in a good way!”
Matt nailed it. What we learned as children — what may have been great advice at that time in our lives — does not necessarily benefit us as businesspeople. For instance, his first point was something that was instilled in me. To this day, I have a very difficult time approaching strangers and speaking to them. I struggle with it at every Business After Hours or similar event. With almost 30 years in business, I have yet to overcome that aspect of my personality, but I will someday.
So what is it that holds you back? Is it one of the things that Matt mentioned? Perhaps it is another common obstacle that he did not note. Many people do not see themselves as being the best at what they do, even though they want to be. They view being the best, or even being an expert in their field, as something for others to achieve because they were told that aspiring to be the best is pretentious — that they should be happy with doing an good job.
Sit and think about this. What is it that you learned many years ago that holds you back today? If you are not sure, ask someone close to you. They may find it difficult to answer (not because they do not know, but because they do not want to hurt your feelings). You may find it just as difficult to hear. Yet knowing this and working to overcome it may be the first step in actually having the opportunity to achieve your goals and ambitions. As I tell those who take my “Be the Recognized Expert in Your Field” seminar, the first step to becoming an expert is realizing that you actually have the right to be one and definitely can be one. Once you understand and embrace this
, nothing can hold you back.