How to overcome limiting beliefs and insecurity to be a more effective marketer

By Andrew Neitlich

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t — you are right.” Henry Ford.

The last two blogs led up to a big question: How do you overcome your insecurities to be an effective business person?

How does someone who is insecure suddenly transform to become secure and confident?

All I can do in a short blog like this is point you towards some approaches, and you can pursue those that call to you.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way: Your behaviors and speech need to line up. There are lots of people out there (I used to be one of them) who say things like, “I want to start a business, but….” or “One day I’ll be a successful entrepreneur, but right now I’m too [old, young, uneducated, poor, unknown…].”

A few comments like this are fine from time to time, but some people (and I used to be one of them) go on and on. It is as if they think that by talking about starting a business they are actually doing it. These people are wannabees. They bore the pants off family, friends, and co-workers — and don’t even know it.

Worse, it is not healthy to say one thing while you are doing something very different.

To be successful and satisfied, you must match up your actions and your deeds. Either do what you say you will do (e.g. stop explaining and making excuses and live your dreams), or stop boring us with your daydreams and be happy where you are.

Now for those people who really do want to take action, and are stuck: Here are some ways to move forward.

First, find someone who has achieved success despite their circumstances. Interview them. Model your behavior after theirs. Find out how they overcame their own insecurities. Earn the right to have them mentor you. Offer to work for them, or otherwise learn from them.

Second, study your limiting beliefs until they become so boring that you ignore them. Sometimes you have to become profoundly bored and nauseous with yourself to move forward. Then your beliefs become nothing more than a bad movie that plays in your mind, and has no effect on you. As an anonymous guru said, “Thoughts are the mind’s way of passing gas.” So what brought your beliefs into being? How often do you notice them? What is their effect on you? Etc. etc. ad nauseum. (This is a Buddhist/meditative approach).

Third, take baby steps to get outside your comfort zone. Every week do something you haven’t done before to grow your business. If you fear calling the “big fish” client, call one and see what happens. Learn and try again. Keep taking one more small step. (This is the ChangeOne philosophy).

Fourth, become aware of the costs of not changing your behavior. I went into business for myself after doing an exercise in which I saw myself working for my intellectually-challenged boss for another year or two. Then I magnified the pain in my mind until I couldn’t stand it anymore. (This is an Neuro-Linguistic Programming Technique, as is the next one).

Fifth, and conversely, imaging the pleasure of taking new, powerful actions to grow your business. How will you feel? How will you speak? What will your facial expression look like? How will you carry yourself? What will you wear?

Sixth, fake it until you make it. Sandler’s famous book “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar” separates our identity from our role. We are all actors. Do what successful people do, knowing we are all faking it to a degree. You are not your job. Be whatever you need to be to succeed.

Six methods are enough for now. For the 16-year old: You may need to be patient. With experience and a bit more time, you will do fine. Already you are far ahead of most your age and older.

Finally, to quote Yoda: “There is no try, only do.”

Other suggestions appreciated…..

  • myrdhrin

    Sounds like this 6 step approach can be applied to a lot more than just business

  • http://www.lengelzigich.com maxor

    I’ve found that while I have lofty goals of some big overall concept, there are smaller steps that need to be taken to get there. Sometimes when I’m trying to get motivated I will make a small change or improvement to my website, or sit down and write an outline for an article. This little action makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and that I am closer to that lofty goal. Usually I will string together a few of these actions and more often than not I get some quality work done.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post. You are right about thinking big and then doing some things you never thought possible. Thanks for reminding us all that big things can only be accomplished by leaving your comfort zone. Good thing is though that once you reach outside your circle of comfort, your circle becomes a little bit bigger. That means you are doing some amazing things all within your comfort zone.

  • http://www.warpspire.com Brak

    I especially like:

    Fourth, become aware of the costs of not changing your behavior. I went into business for myself after doing an exercise in which I saw myself working for my intellectually-challenged boss for another year or two. Then I magnified the pain in my mind until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

    Another 5 star set of advice.

  • http://www.bittime.com transio

    I wouldn’t necessarily call them “wannabes”, but rather “dreamers”. Dreamer mentality is difficult to escape. Dreamers don’t know how to focus or self-motivate. A mentor can be a great source of motivation.

    One important thing I’d like to add is setting achievable goals for yourself: short-term AND long-term. Make a business plan and a personal plan, incorporating those goals. Work towards the short-term goals with an overview of your progression towards the long-term.

    As a good example of the “little goals” mentality, I suggest all of you watch the movie “Touching the Void” – an incredible story of two mountain climbers who had an accident in the Andes. One was severely injured 20,000 feet up. The movie is very inspiring, and entertaining at the same time!

  • Brian Egan

    “Third, take baby steps to get outside your comfort zone. Every week do something you haven’t done before to grow your business.”

    I think this is one of the best ways to gradually build up confidence. You don’t even need to jump to calling the “big fish”, just give any potential client a call. The more you take small steps, the more relaxed, natural, and confident you will become. Then you will realize it’s fun to take even BIGGER jumps =)

    Another quick thing: Stupid as this may sound, I’ve also found that carrying myself a certain way helps me feel more confident. When walking around, keep your head level, not down and walk upright and strong. It makes a world of difference.

    I’ve actually worked on developing self confidence in the last year and many of Andrew’s tips I’ve used with success, so go out and apply them already!

    I also have a selfish reason for writing this post: Does anyone ever feel kinda like a sleeze when they’re selling? What is this from? I (think) I am confident at first, I don’t lie, I don’t push for the close, and after reading a few books, my main objective is to identify needs and educate, but sometimes (not always) I still feel off about it, which effects my confidence to pull a client towards a close. I’m sure many of you have (or do) feel this way, at least some time. What did/do you do to get over it?

  • http://www.rebornstudio.com optimus_prime

    Excellent advice. One thing that I’ve found useful in getting out of the “dreamer” rut is to start planning for the future and making of list of what needs to be done to get to that future. Then, make sure everything you do directly supports your end goal.

  • http://www.bittime.com transio


    Maybe you should make a blog entry or article on the basics of making a business plan?

  • Greg Robson

    Excellent advice, very relevant to what I’m currently mulling over at the moment.

    A lot of people have the “I wish”, “I hope”, “Maybe one day” mentality. But lack the “I will”, “by the next year”, “I am” motivation that they need.

    One day [s]I hope[/s] I will have my own web design business with happy clients and workers.

  • M. Johansson

    haha, I loved number six, for some reason. Probably because I’m trained at it.

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