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Giving Yourself Permission to Be Successful

I’ve found that the greatest single cause of insufficient success (not merely failure, but also inability to reach one’s true potential) of entrepreneurs is a lack of permission from themselves. That’s right-a very large number of risk-taking, assertive, creative people don’t allow themselves to maximally succeed.

“Success” can be defined in a myriad of ways: financial, contribution to the community, personal learning, helping others, business growth, creation of a legacy, and so on. But no matter what your own, personal definition, it’s important to allow yourself to truly reach and exceed your own aspirations. (I realized once, when a realtor was showing me a beautiful home in California that I found to be wonderful and which I could afford, that my reality had caught up with my aspirations. That’s not necessarily good, because it bespeaks complacency.)

I hear too many people in my mentor program and too many colleagues state that they don’t deserve something, they have no right to charge higher fees, and that they feel “guilty” making certain demands of a client. These are self-imposed limitations, not due to any prevailing ethical or moral considerations, but rather due to low self-esteem. But the result is as paralyzing as a competitor stealing your best clients or a technology rendering your approaches obsolete.

Here are some suggestions which will enable and empower you to permit yourself to enjoy your own success and maximize your own potential:

  • Get rid of the anthropomorphic little guy on your shoulder who keeps whispering “You shouldn’t” and “Who do you think you are?” When you hear yourself making those sounds, simply say, “Why not?” and “Who says I can’t?”
  • Understand the causes of your success. We focus far too much on the causes of our setbacks and failures, and not nearly enough on the reasons for out success. Only by doing the latter can we understand why we succeed and can we replicate the factors required for our success. It’s more important to know WHY you’re good than THAT you’re good.
  • Ask others for feedback. Find out why they think you’re successful. Seek out trusted others who can provide perspective on what you should and shouldn’t reasonably expect. (One person recently asked me about a project fee of his that was so low I told him the client wouldn’t possibly think him credible at that level. He tripled the fee and got the business.)
  • Set your own, internal measures for what will constitute your success. External feedback-especially when unsolicited-places too much emphasis on the subjective opinions of others and their own needs. Only your internal measures will enable you to achieve self-mastery and truly appreciated when you’re successful and the extent of that success.

Many people can increase their effectiveness immediately by allowing themselves to be more effective immediately. Ironically, we often are our own worst enemies, but we can just as easily be our own best friends.