“I’ve never done a deal that big,” he said.
“So what!” I said. “Just go for it. You’ve done similar deals lots of times.”
“True, but this time it’s somehow different. Every time I think about it… it scares me.”
Billy’s track record of accomplishments was impressive. At the age of 32, he had already built and sold three companies in the radiology industry for the nifty sum of $31,000,000. Now, with his fourth company, he was in a position to acquire his two largest competitors and become the big fish in a very profitable pond.
Just like every other major accomplishment under his belt, Billy had taken that goal and plugged it into a system. He knew what individual steps, in what order, were needed to achieve it. I’d been coaching him for two years — and as a result of our work together, he knew why he wanted to accomplish the goal and had a clear vision of the completed deal.
But Billy had stopped short of taking the final, crucial step that would make the deal happen. His goal setting and achieving system was letting him down, and he didn’t know why.
Peggy had the same problem, but with a totally different set of circumstances.
Peggy had taken up running as a way to network with a certain group of executives. Even though she was a novice runner, she managed to get into their exclusive running club through the recommendation of a friend. And she started to panic almost immediately.
All of the members of the club were expected to participate in the Boston Marathon. And in order to participate in the Boston Marathon, you have to finish a sanctioned qualifying marathon in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes.
That’s a pace of 8.6 minutes per mile for 26 miles. Peggy could hold an 8-minute-per-mile pace, but had never ran more than three miles at a time. She laid out her training schedule and had 46 weeks to get ready for the qualifying run… but she couldn’t make herself do it.
How about you? Have you ever set a goal that makes your heart jump? Emotionally, you want the result. Intellectually, you know that it is possible. You have a strong reason for going after it… and you know what it will be like when you’re there.
The path is all mapped out, and the only thing between you and the end of the rainbow is taking the steps to get there. But instead of taking the steps, you freeze.
Welcome to Billy and Peggy’s problem.
In working with more than 2,500 entrepreneurs and executives (as well as struggling with this problem myself), I’ve found a common thread. When we’re reaching for a goal that is outside of our prior personal experience, we’re stymied when we try to force ourselves beyond the level of belief we have in ourselves.
In other words, we have to believe we can do it… or we won’t.
In Billy’s case, he had acquired, grown, and sold companies, but he had never acquired and merged two companies. Because he had never done it before, he had to believe that he was capable of doing it. And he didn’t believe it.
With his focus on an end goal that he didn’t believe he could achieve, he froze. None of the steps he had successfully taken toward the achievement of that goal mattered because he was focused too far out.
Peggy suffered from the same paralysis. While she focused on and feared running 26 miles, she couldn’t make herself run even one.
Here’s how I taught Billy and Peggy to overcome this obstacle…
- Start by making a goal map.
Take a piece of paper. Write your BIG goal at the top. Write where you are currently at the bottom. Then write the steps, as you see them, to get from where you are to where you want to be. (Make them big steps. Don’t worry about the details yet.)
- Starting with the first step, ask yourself, “Do I believe that I can _____?”
Tune in to your body when you answer. Do you feel a small rush of anticipation — or is there a part of you that begins to ache with anxiety? This is about trusting yourself, so be honest.
If you can give a confident and honest “YES,” without hesitation, go on to the next step and ask yourself the “Do I believe that I can _____?” question.
- Keep going until you hit the belief wall — when you ask the question and your belief in yourself won’t make it that far.
At this point, take a deep breath and smile. That’s right, smile. You’ve found your sticking point. This is exciting — and worthy of a little celebration.
- Now go back to the last step in which you had full belief in yourself. This becomes your immediate goal.
- Make a new goal map with this goal at the top of the page. Point your eyes and your energy to the first step toward achieving this goal and get started.
- Every time you complete a step, raise your eyes to look at the steps ahead. Has the landscape changed? Do the steps appear different? Has your belief boundary expanded? Then put your head back down and take the next step.
Every minute you spend trying to convince yourself to believe more than you do is a wasted minute. But by focusing your energy where you believe, your level of belief in yourself automatically expands… and you achieve more and more goals.
[Ed. Note: Using the power of belief to overcome life’s obstacles and achieve great things is just a small part of what PJ McClure covers in his book Flip the S.W.I.T.C.H: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Personal Mindset. Before the book is released by a major publisher, PJ has agreed to make a limited number of copies available to ETR readers at a special low price. Order the book today and you also get a FREE companion action guide to help you implement PJ’s tips, techniques, and strategies.
PJ McClure is an alumnus of Early to Rise’s annual Info-Marketing Bootcamp. Here’s what he said after last year’s event: “The content is amazing. The speakers are amazing. You get everything you need to know to get online, and they teach you how to implement it. I secured five joint ventures while I was here. This is the best money you can possibly spend.”]