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In last week’s blog, “Win-Win Relationships at Work and Home”, I announced that I am expanding my coaching practice to include helping people with personal relationships ranging from acquaintances to intimate partners. As noted last week, personal relationships are usually more profound and more emotional than work relationships. That was my way of differentiating them. What they have in common is the inner game, our mindsets. Whether work or personal limiting beliefs keep people from reaching their potential as well as getting the best out of their relationships

For the record, limiting beliefs are the assumptions or perceptions we have about ourselves and the way the world works. These assumptions are “self-limiting” because by holding on to them, we are holding ourselves back from achieving our goals.

Henry Ford said, ‘Whether you believe you can or [can]not, you’re right.” I believe that statement is true, but not absolute. For example, I can sing, but not well; so, I limit my singing to the shower. Michael Jordan authored a book titled; I Can’t Accept Not Trying. I tried to sing – even took lessons -and found the boundaries of my singing skill set.

Effectively addressing limiting beliefs starts with self-awareness. We have to determine what we really want and then challenge ourselves. I have met people who give up without trying. They actually talk themselves out of going after what they really want. They use self-limiting statements like “I am not good at math”, so they don’t try to learn it. “I can’t speak in public” but won’t join organizations that could help them. They might say “she or he won’t go out with me”, so they never ask..” In other words, if you try you might fail, but if you don’t try you will surely fail. If you never ask the answer is always no. On the other hand, if you try, you might succeed.

We learn these belief systems as very young children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Holding ourselves back. The parable of the Elephant and the Chain Illustrates the power of self-limiting beliefs best:

“As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and at that age, it’s enough to hold them. They are conditioned to believe they cannot break away as they grow up. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.”

Feel free to share examples of how you or someone else overcame or is overcoming self-limiting beliefs at work and home. To learn more about my coaching practice visit: