There's one key difference between people who consistently pull off incredible feats, and others who are always wondering how the high achievers do it.

While hard work, luck, tenacity and the right connections can all add to someone's ultimate success, those are not the most important factors. The key difference between those who both dream and achieve big, and those who just dream, lies in how each group handles their self-limiting beliefs.

Self-limiting beliefs are those undermining thoughts that pop into your brain throughout the day. They take many forms, and can sound like:

"I could never go speak in front of a crowd because no one would be interested in what I have to say."

"I don't think it's possible to operate a business with margins at this level when you're in the industry that I'm in."

"I don't have time to mentor people who work for me, because I've got to run the business."

"I don't have time to go to the gym and get all of my work done."

"People with careers like that don't have a life and never see their kids"

These fear-driven self-sabotaging thoughts prevent you from being your best self. While everyone has them, highly successful people have mastered the art of ignoring them. After all, when nothing is impossible for you, then anything is possible.

So, how do you actively overcome your self-limiting beliefs?

Notice your thoughts

Start by noticing your thoughts. When you have a self-limiting belief, bring awareness to it. Once you start paying attention to these thoughts you'll be amazed at how many you see you have.

Add: "Maybe, but what if"

After you start noticing your self-limiting thoughts, add "maybe but what if," and allow yourself to explore the possibility that this belief is wrong. What possibilities would that open up for you, and how does that make you feel?

Let go of past failures

Don't allow past failures to keep you from trying something again. Be kind to yourself, remember that no one is perfect, especially not the first time. View your past failures as important learnings that are a critical part of getting to where you're going.

Prove your negative thoughts wrong

Believe in yourself, volunteer for things that may be a stretch and actively test yourself. Seek out the things you "know" about yourself that are self-limiting and question their validity. For example, I told myself for decades that I was the kind of person who needed 8-10 hours of sleep to be at my best. But it wasn't until I started to set my alarm for 5am every morning that I realized that I could feel even better on 6-7 hours.

Burn the haters as fuel

Another way successful people overcome their self-limiting beliefs is to use others' negative reactions as motivation.

Imagine that one of the things you dare to dream of is giving a TED Talk that generates a lot of buzz.

The self-limiting thinking would be, "I'd be an idiot up there," or "it'd be a flop."

Instead, set up guideposts along the way to show if you're getting to where you want to be. Ask yourself, "what would it look like if I became this TED Talk star? How would I know that I was heading the right way?"

Some of those guideposts might even be people saying negative things to you--telling you it's never going to happen. Let that inspire you to beat expectations.

Highly successful people understand that there's no more powerful feeling than the realization that the only person who can set limits on yourself is you.

Published on: Nov 25, 2016