From Unbelievable to Obvious

Belief is a funny thing.  Have you ever believed something to be true only to have that belief later proven wrong?  Most of us have had an experience like that.  Consider 2007, when Lehman Brothers, one of the world’s largest investment banks, failed.  Many, many people believed that the failure of a majorUnited Statesinvestment and banking firm was impossible.  It happened nonetheless.  What followed was that a huge number of majorU.S.banks—institutions ranging from Bank of America and Citigroup to Goldman Sachs—were threatened with failure.  What at one time seemed unthinkable became obvious overnight: Major banking institutions can fail if left unassisted and to their own devices.

Disbelieving That Which Limits Us

This article isn’t an essay on macroeconomics or the state of the financial system.  Rather, it’s intended to be a look at our limiting belief systems, because there’s a chance that many such beliefs keep us separated from higher levels of success.  I’m not talking about objective facts here but, rather, the stories we tell ourselves about objective facts.  That’s what I mean by the term “limiting belief.”

As an example, consider a person who totally vests herself in the idea of job security.  To do that, one might develop a very specific skill set and totally commit to a specific employer.  Those actions would be premised on the belief that her employer will always need what she has to offer.  If experience (and Hollywoodmovies like Larry Crowne) can teach us anything, it’s that things often change much more quickly than many of us anticipate.  There is no such thing as externally provided “security.”  Just ask the folks who used to work at Enron.

Being skilled is very important.  Being adaptable to change is equally important and might be the very best way to be prepared, as counterintuitive as that might sound at first blush.  Rather than telling yourself a story about having job security, prepare yourself to take action in the face of anything that life throws your way.  Who Moved My Cheese is a great book that tackles the issue of becoming too “comfortable” or “secure.”

Success is the Opposite of Comfort

Why is it that doing nothing, being complacent and feeling “secure,” is sometimes comfortable?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Success is achieved when you are willing to get outside of your comfort zone—when you are willing to do the things that others are unwilling to do.  Think of the worst case scenario and the solution to it rather than just hoping that you never confront challenges to your comfort.

One way to do this is to start a business.  There’s nothing wrong with testing the waters, even if you do have a day job.  If you don’t have a job, then there’s absolutely no excuse.  Nothing is lost by pursuing a new course.  But you certainly lose out on experience and knowledge by not trying . . . and that’s the minimum you’ll miss.  The worst case scenario is that you miss out on learning how to sculpt your life and respond to the unexpected.  There is no better skill, and being an entrepreneur will force you to develop it.

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