If you’re not, then you aren’t. So many of us are faced with incredible opportunities, but as soon as we face something that stretches us, we throw our hands up. We say things like “I can’t” or “I don’t know how” and move on, leaving our dreams and vision in the dust.
A year ago, I would have said some things like:
- “I don’t know how to build a successful real estate business.“
- “There’s no way I’m going to be able to call people and ask for their business.”
- “I’m not a people person, I can’t be a good networker.”
- “I could never how to walk into a stranger’s house and walk out with their business.”
- “I don’t think that I can do this.”
But, here I am a year later, doing pretty well. I’m not living on Stratton Avenue, funding startups, or building orphanages in Uganda just yet, but we’re getting there. I learned to do all of those things that I told myself I could never do.
So, how does that work? How does a guy like me go from incapable to capable?
Easy – one day I refused to buy into the bovine scatology in my head that said I couldn’t do stuff. I realized that as long as I told myself that I couldn’t do something important, I would never allow myself the chance to learn how.
Before I made that decision, I lived in a world of incapabilities. I had defined what I could do and couldn’t do and lived by that standard. It’s so much more comfortable to live inside a bubble and only do the things you think that you can do.
Unfortunately, that’s the path to leading a pretty lame life. If we want to succeed in business and in life, we need to take a different path:
Start With Your Abilities
What are some things that you enjoy doing?
This one is pretty basic. Start with what you know and build on that. When I got into business, I drew upon my creative background and started with my marketing materials: website, business cards, client presentations, etc. This made me feel productive and confident in my forward motion.
If you had to teach a class on something today, what would that be?
This question can be scary. I found myself focused with this at RE: BarCamp last year. I showed up and was asked to give a presentation on something that day. I really didn’t feel like an expert on anything so I panicked and wrote down ‘Twitter’ on a little slip of paper.
It turned out that I had quite a bit to say about Twitter and people really enjoyed the presentation. I hadn’t realized it previously, but there was a real skill there that I could use to further my own business. Even better, I could help other people do the same.
Define Your Inabilities
What activity scares the pants off of you?
For me, this was talking to people I didn’t already know. If you’ve been keeping up with me here, you know that I’m really an introvert hiding in an extrovert’s clothes. As silly as it may seem, this was a big hangup in my life. It wasn’t until I realized the problem that I could buckle down and make some changes.
What unfinished work keeps you up at night?
This answer comes in the form of missed opportunities. What happened today that you wish you could’ve done differently?
Perhaps a big ol’ piece of business walked through your door and set itself up on a tee; just waiting for you to swing and knock it 300 yards down the fairway. Before taking the shot, you doubted your ability to even swing the club and completely flubbed it. The result: you missed your chance and now you’re lying awake, dwelling on an area of your life in need of serious improvement.
Shift Your Mindset
It all begins with mindset. We can’t accomplish anything important unless we truly believe that we can. The second most important decision I’ve ever made in my life was to stop limiting myself. Truly, if you’re willing to learn and improve, you’ll be able to do just that.
Write Down Goals
Write down the activities that you need to learn in order to succeed. If you hate computers, but need to get familiar with PhotoShop in order to turn your photography hobby into a business, write that down. Develop an action plan to break through that barrier and reach your goal.
This simple act will set you apart from most of your peers and propel you forward.
Do Your Homework
Study, study, and study some more.
For example: If you’re ready to try your hand at fly-fishing, get out there and read about it. Head over to REI and talk to someone with experience in fly-fishing. The more knowledge you gain, the easier it’ll be to dive in and start learning.
Please don’t take this too far and get into analysis paralysis. Study up and learn about the thing you’re trying to learn how to do. Don’t get so absorbed in that study that you never actually get out and do it!
Enlist the Help of a Coach/Mentor/Friend
I can’t stress this point enough. We can’t always rely on ourselves to be objective. If I need to learn how to do something, I’ve got people in place to make sure I’m actually doing that. It’s very easy to rationalize inactivity. A good mentor will reject those excuses and hold you accountable to your results.
Outside accountability is important, but none of this happens unless it starts within you. You need to decide today that you’re going to stop saying “I can’t do this” and “I don’t know how to do that.” Get out there and do the stuff that’s going to help you succeed.
What are you going to learn to do this month?