There’s something compelling about underdog stories. You know the ones I’m talking about. The hero of the story is faced with a challenging obstacle or sinister threat and needs to dig down, deep inside to discover inner strengths and attain new heights.
It’s like Rocky who works harder and harder to defeat superior opponents or Harry Potter who needs to find his inner strength and resolve to battle Voldemort.
There’s a reason we like stories like these: it’s inspiring to think there might be more to us beneath the surface. They make us wonder what we might find if we take a look into ourselves.
These stories are about self-reflection and working hard to discover hidden potential. But more importantly, they’re about belief in finding what lies inside.
Belief can have a big impact on our potential. When I look back on my past to a time when I quit or didn’t succeed, I can usually pinpoint it to a limiting belief holding myself back. It’s strange how often just changing the way I think can change the way I act.
It reminds me of this famous quote:
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
There’s a big truth behind this quote. Our thoughts and beliefs can have a profound effect on performance. Just having the right mindset can influence our behavior and abilities more than anything else.
Here are some good thoughts to get into the right mindset.
1. If I ask more of myself, I’ll get it
I see this principle in action frequently at the gym. People will lift the same amount of weight in their workouts for weeks on end and wonder why they’ve plateaued. If they just added more weight, their muscles would adapt and grow.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself a little and do more than normal. It’s easy to think we’ve reached our limits, but too often it’s just an illusion. The only way to reach a new level is to push yourself to do more.
2. It’s not too late to start
By the time Grandma Moses finished her painting career, she had been included in some of the most prestigious art galleries around the country, landed the cover of major magazines and sold thousands of dollars of artwork.
Such an impressive story for someone who didn’t start painting until her late 70s.
We all have inner skills and abilities inside us that we might not have discovered when we were younger. That’s no reason not to set aside time to discover it now. As an old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
3. I can always learn what I need to know
A lack of knowledge is no reason to stop yourself from pursuing what you want to do.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know the first thing about WordPress, HTML, Twitter or – well, just about anything. But I started anyway because I knew that I could learn it as needed. Now that it’s years down the road, I’ve learned all of those things (and much more).
No one starts off knowing everything they need to. Even rocket scientists and people with PhD’s in physics had to start at the beginning and work their way up. If there’s something you want to do, you have to believe that you can learn what’s needed.
4. Perseverance and hard work will eventually pay off
It’s important to believe that hard work and perseverance will eventually pay off. Sometimes all you have to keep you going is the faith you have in your abilities.
It reminds me of a story I read about an author of about twenty books. I can safely say you’ve never heard of him simply because he never sent out a single one to a publisher. Not one.
He desperately wanted to be published, but was too afraid of rejection. The whole situation was a catch-22 keeping him perpetually away from getting published.
You have to be that kind of person who can persevere and keep trying no matter what. You’ll often hear “no” a lot, but you keep going for that one “yes” that will make all your efforts worthwhile.
5. There is no glass ceiling
It’s an invisible barrier separating you from the upper echelons. Something you perceive is holding you back from attaining the next level.
Perhaps it’s a limiting belief. Maybe you’re holding back because what you want to do has never been done before.
But there’s less holding you back then you realize. Thinking like this is often just in your head preventing you from reaching new heights.
6. I have untapped abilities waiting to be discovered
The more I reach into myself to see what I’m capable of doing, the more surprised I am by what I can accomplish. It only makes me wonder what else is lying dormant inside me.
People who reach their full potential realize there is more to who they are. They understand that overlooked abilities and untapped skills are just waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is believe they are there waiting for you to find them.
7. Even small progress is good
It’s easy to dismiss small progress as too insignificant to matter, but it does.
Think about a runner who makes small incremental 1% improvements to his strength, endurance or speed. It starts slowly, but steadily the improvements accumulate. Over time, those small steady steps will eventually add up to create a powerful runner.
All progress is good, even the small steps. We tend to celebrate the big achievements while ignoring the little ones, but that isn’t the best approach. Small progress might not seem like much, but over time, they can pile up and make a massive difference.
8. It’s important to start before I’m ready
Writing my first book, I knew full well that I had major gaps in planning – how was I going to format the book? How was I going to find a cover image? I didn’t have everything planned out, but I began, knowing that I would eventually solve all these problems.
You can sit around and try to prepare for every eventuality that comes your way, but you’ll never be fully prepared for everything. Start before you’re ready and know that you’ll have to face these problems. But also know that you’ll be able to find a way around them.
Diving right in is the surest way to get going. Patience may be a virtue, but if that means waiting and planning until you’re completely ready, you’re going to be waiting far longer than necessary.
photo credit: niko si