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Those who expect success create and spot the opportunities which might otherwise pass them by…

State of mind

There’s a Moorish Proverb that says: ‘He who fears something gives it power over him’ – turn this on its head and ask yourself – ‘If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you try?’

This is such a powerful mindset to be in and the opportunities that present themselves could be limitless… Often it is the fear of failure that holds us back from trying new experiences. For example, you may delay or put off going for that promotion or applying for a new job because you’re worried about a knock-back; maybe you’re putting off parenthood because you’re worried about the kind of parent you might be or the unpredictability of it all… It could be a new skill or hobby you’re thinking of learning but are anxious you won’t be able to master it.

Which camp do you sit in?

So, what is behind this fear? Our imagination is a powerful choice driver which we employ, knowingly or not, when we make decisions and it can either hold us back or propel us forward. When approaching a new challenge or opportunity, 95% of people use their imagination to limit their growth – they imagine all the things which could go wrong, as opposed to imagining all that might go right.

Imagine the scenario. You’re invited to a party. It’s a friend’s milestone Birthday and it's going to be a humdinger of a ‘do’. She’s one of your dearest friends and you’re excited for her - she deserves to have wonderful time. The invite says posh frocks and suits are de rigueur so you’re quite looking forward to a proper night out, you haven’t been to a big celebration for a long time. You put the invite on the side (am I the only one who has a ‘side’ in the house? It’s in the kitchen in my house and whenever the kids are looking for something, I’ve very often put it on ‘the side’ and they know exactly where I mean when I tell them said thing is on ‘the side’). I digress. The invite sits there and the initial excitement about the party starts to wane. After all, you’ve three months for that imagination of yours to kick in and you allow thoughts such as the following to fill your head: ‘I haven’t really got a posh frock. Dave hasn’t worn a suit for ages; in fact, I’m not really sure he has one that fits.’ ‘I don’t really want to pay out for outfits we’re unlikely to wear again.’ ‘How many are going that we know? I don’t want to get stuck in the corner with her sister, she doesn’t stop talking after a few drinks and then there’s her friend Sandra, who’s always round her house and she’s such a bore’, ‘How are we going to get there and back? I don’t like driving in the dark and Dave won’t relax until he’s had a couple of pints. I bet the hotels near the venue will be expensive and they’re probably booked by now.’ ‘I don’t really feel comfortable wearing something so dressy. I feel really conspicuous because it’s just not something I’d normally wear.’ ‘What about if I don’t like the food there. Or if it’s too rich and doesn’t agree with me?’ And by the time you’ve had a couple of months to fill your head with all this, imagining the worst, you decide to make an excuse and not go.

Sliding doors and you go to the party. You’ve borrowed a dress from your sister who seems to have a need for this kind of outfit and she’s lent you some jewellery which to be fair, makes you look fab. Dave’s suit scrubs up well and he looks quite dapper actually. The hotel next door to the venue had one room left and it was quite reasonably priced – you decided to make a weekend of it too. The party is fantastic – you see old faces and make new friends. An evening that enabled you to reconnect with the carefree fun you perhaps need more of in your life. You come away thankful that you didn’t allow the imagination gremlins to talk you out of it.

Crystal ball

What are you talking yourself out of doing in life because you’re imagining the worst-case scenario? The job with the fabulous salary you don’t apply for, even though your skillset perfectly matches their criteria but you imagine with a salary like that, that company is gonna be way out of your league. Flip side – your CV hugely impresses them and you pass the interview with flying colours. The company adore you and you fly through the ranks as a respected member of the team.

The skiing holiday you’re invited to join friends on but as you’ve never skied before, your imagination tells you you’re bound to break your leg the first day, so you politely decline. Rather than book it, and have the best time learning a new skill, with friends you’d have so much fun with.

The person you don’t approach and speak to at the work ‘do’ because you think you’re punching above your weight when in fact, you two could be a match made in heaven.

The business you don’t set up because you think oh well, it’s just a hobby and who’d be interested in my creations anyway? They’re good enough for family and friends to want but that’s as far as their appeal goes. When in another life, Liberty London want a monthly order because what you create is exquisite and like nothing they’ve seen before. 

How do you know what the result will be? There is no crystal ball but what if you went for it? What’s the worst that can happen? Or maybe you should be asking yourself, what’s the best that can happen?

Founder and co-author of The Winning Edge Programme, Richard Jackson MBE often uses the quote by Frank Reagan: ‘Life should be a series of daring escapades launched from a secure base’ Words that personally I live by and they still stand me in good stead…

Who you gonna believe?

Our self-belief is also a factor in the choices we make in life – too many people have self-limiting beliefs which hold them back. They have a, mainly misguided, belief in their lack of ability to be able to achieve a goal, solve an issue or to successfully face a challenge head on. It’s important to analyse where this self-limiting belief stems from. Is it from past experience, a comment someone else has made, or is it purely a manufactured belief which actually isn’t based on fact at all..?

It’s about rewriting that narrative to be one that supports you moving forward, not one that you are allowing to hold you back. Assumptive affirmations, building a mental movie using all five senses for a visualisation and monitoring your self-talk, will all work towards building your self-belief.

When you’re stopping yourself from going for something which could be quite wonderful, look at the reasons why. It’s important to have an awareness of the potential obstacles and to think about the risk vs reward ratio but what is your dominant thought? Are you trying to avoid failure, or are you expecting success? Our brain is a very clever organ and is always trying to prove us right so if failure is the dominant thought – that’s what you’re programming your brain with. Expect success and your brain is busy looking for opportunities to prove you right.

Success very rarely falls into our lap – work is required. Whether it’s to be happy and feel fulfilled, to have enriching relationships with our loved ones, to earn a million in a year, to afford the house of our dreams – riches in terms of personal development and of a financial nature all take thought, dedication and self-belief.

The quality of your actions can never exceed the quality of your thinking.

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