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5 Motivation-Killing Thoughts You Must Stop Believing

To achieve differently, first you have to believe differently.
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It's hard to think differently and be able to dream new dreams. We'd all like to be visionary thinkers like Branson, Bezos, and Buffett (the 3 Bs of Bold Thinking) and achieve great things.

But most of us aren't bold visionaries. (I'm not. I'm far from visionary.)

And that's OK, because although you and I might never come up with the Next Big Thing, we can decide to think and believe differently than most other people--and in the process, achieve differently than most other people.

That process starts with letting go of things many people believe:

1. "I never get the right opportunities."

Hey, join the very large club. No matter how it looks from the outside, no one is given opportunities he or she doesn't deserve. Opportunities are earned. And even if someone else did get an opportunity you feel you deserved, you can't change that fact, so why dwell on it?

Maybe, years ago, you did have to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected, to somehow be "discovered."

Even if that was once true, it's no longer the case. Access to opportunity is nearly unlimited. You can connect with nearly anyone through social media. You can create and sell your own products, develop and distribute your own applications, find your own funding... or, like Taylor Swift, pitch the right person and in the process help him launch his own record label.

You don't need to wait for someone else to give you the opportunity. You can give yourself the opportunity--which, by the way, is what successful people have done for centuries. The only thing holding you back from seizing an opportunity is you--and your willingness to try.

Don't think about opportunities you need to be given; think about opportunities you need to take.

2. "I would pay the price if I knew it would be worth it."

Ever heard someone say, "If I knew I would get a raise, then I will be willing to work a lot harder"? Or, "If I knew my startup would succeed, then I would definitely be willing to put in more hours"? Or, "If I knew there would be a bigger payoff, then I would be willing to sacrifice more"?

Successful employees earn promotions and higher pay by first working harder; in other words, they earn their success. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by delivering greater value first; they earn their success.

Successful people, in all areas of life, earn bigger "payoffs" by working incredibly hard well before any potential return is in sight; they earn their success through effort and sacrifice.

Most people expect to get more before they will ever consider doing more.

First decide how you define success. Then think of compensation not as the driver or requirement for exceptional effort but as the deserved reward.

3. "Other people always hold me back."

Maybe someone else has ruined an opportunity or blocked an idea or taken what was rightfully yours. Maybe suppliers didn't come through. Maybe your partner wasn't committed. Maybe potential customers weren't smart enough to recognize the value you provide.

Doesn't matter. You can't control other people. You can control only yourself.

Always decide it was your fault whenever you fail. Not only is that a smart way to think, but it's also almost always true. Although occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail, most of the time the root cause is you.

And that's OK. Every successful person has failed numerous times. Most have failed a lot more often than you have; that's one reason why they're so successful today.

So embrace every failure. Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, you'll do what it takes to make sure things turn out differently.

Never think it's another person's fault; when you do, you're guaranteeing it always will be.

4. "I don't have the time."

Sure you do. You have the same amount of time as everyone else. The key is to decide how you fill your time.

For example, anyone can create a schedule. But most people don't ensure every task takes only as long as it needs to take. Most people fill a block of time, either given or self-determined, simply because that is the time allotted.

Don't adjust your effort so it fills a time frame. Instead, do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your "free" time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Never think about how time controls you--instead, think of how you can best control your time.

When you do, you'll quickly realize you have a lot more time than you ever imagined.

5. "I don't have any special gifts."

It's easy, and extremely tempting, to assume successful people have some intangible entrepreneurial something--ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc.--you don't have.

That is rarely true. Talent typically reveals itself only in hindsight. Success is never assured; it looks that way only after it is achieved.

Sure, other people may have skills you don't have--at least not yet--but you have skills other people don't have. You don't need a gift. You just need yourself--and a willingness to put in a tremendous amount of hard work, effort, and perseverance--because that is where talent comes from.

Never think about what you don't have. Focus on what you do have--and more important, what you are willing to do that others are not.

That is your true gift, and it's a gift we've all been given.

You just have to use it.

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Jun 3, 2014

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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