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Day 2: What do you believe?

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" - Eleanor Roosevelt

A few years ago, I attended the University of the Free State. (UFS) Alumni Awards as a council member of the UFS. One of the awards recipients was Louzanne Coetzee, a 28-year-old lady who is visually impaired due to a hereditary condition called Leber congenital amaurosis. Louzanne was awarded the Kovsie Ambassador Award for her achievements as a physically disabled runner and world record holder at this event. She shared the story of how she had started her running career as a first-year UFS student who signed up to run in the first-year athletics because no one else would raise their hand to run. In her words, “I just wanted to get the meeting over with and go to sleep”. Before this, Louzanne had never been an athlete or even considered to be one. After this first-year athletics competition, someone planted a seed in Louzanne’s mind and suggested that she consider running professionally due to her performance there. The rest is history. Every time I think of this story, I wonder where Louzanne would be had she refused to run that day or even refused to take the advice to consider being an athlete. She certainly wouldn’t have known how much potential she carried within her.

This story makes me think of how a lot of people, by age 20, have already defined that “I am not a public speaker”, “I’m just not good with money”, “I’m just not a people’s person”, “I’m just not technologically savvy” and many other self-defining statements we make. What concerns me is that many of us say these things not because we tried and failed but because we are unwilling to even break our limitations and try. So many of us have inherited beliefs about ourselves that come from our life experiences and are not even aware that we hold these beliefs.

This is something I had to confront when I summoned the guts to see a therapist for the first time a few years ago. My primary concern was that I felt I had achieved a lot of success in my career at a very young age but that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of my potential. I couldn’t explain what was holding me back. When presented with opportunities that I felt were “beyond me”, I would engage in self-sabotaging behaviour like not showing up for a Mckinsey and Company interview because I had already written myself off as not worthy of the opportunity.

After the initial sessions, my therapist made me realise that some of my early childhood experiences, such as losing my father at four years old and my mother at eleven, growing up in a society that devalued “orphans,” and being bullied in boarding school had harmed my belief system. She made me realize that even as an accomplished woman, I still saw myself as an orphan who had to apologise for being intelligent, outspoken, and ambitious. That even when I had access to forums and rooms that other women my age don’t have access to, I still felt, “I don’t belong here”, “I cannot maintain this success”, “one day my world will fall apart again like it did when my parents died” and these feelings and ideas resulted in me sabotaging my own success and opportunities. The world had taught me that I would never be able to build a solid family as an orphan because I didn’t know what that looked like. This hurt how I approached relationships.

All of us have a set of beliefs, whether we realise it or not, and these beliefs affect how we show up in the world and what we expect to experience in life. This means that no matter how fancy our vision board can look if we don’t deal with any of our beliefs that limit our potential, we will not achieve what we hope to achieve. If you subconsciously believe that you are not meant to be wealthy, it doesn’t matter how much wealth you manifest on your vision board; it will not come to fruition because you will sabotage any opportunities that life provides you to get wealthy. At the same time, if we dare to overcome any limiting beliefs, then we open ourselves to having experiences and setting goals beyond even our wildest expectations. Once I started working with my therapist to identify these toxic beliefs that I had about myself and worked with her to develop new, more empowering ones, I began experiencing breakthroughs in my life in an unprecedented way.

When reading Michael Hyatt’s book “Your Best Year Ever,” I learned that to set goals that serve our highest selves, we have to take stock of any limiting beliefs (that sabotage us) that we have and replace them with “liberating truths” that empower us. Not only is it important to understand what we believe about ourselves, but it is essential to understand what we believe about other people and about the world in general. For example, some people believe that only people from specific backgrounds or families are entitled to success. This is a limiting belief about others. Some people think that the world is an unfair place that only rewards the rich and famous, and this is a limiting belief about the world. In her research on the growth mindset, Dr Carol Dweck found that people that have limiting beliefs (fixed mindset) about learning and intelligence were most likely to not recover from failures.

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” Matthew 7:18.

One way of identifying good and bad beliefs in specific areas of your life is to interrogate what fruit you are bearing in each area. Are you experiencing career growth and educational advancement? Or do you find yourself stuck in one role for many years and not being able to achieve your educational goals? Are you experiencing financial breakthroughs, or are you stuck in a never-ending cycle of debt and lack financially?

Journal Reflections:

1. Take stock of your underlying beliefs about each dimension of your life (refer to Day 1). Do you identify any limiting beliefs that need to be replaced with “Liberating Truths”?

2. Take stock of any areas of your life where you feel stuck or feel caught in a negative cycle that you’d like to break. Identify any limiting beliefs that you may have in those areas that might cause the lack of progress in your life.

3. Write down a list of affirmations for each area of your life that will form a foundation on which you can build your goals and your vision board in that area.

Note: If you find that you are stuck in an area but can’t understand what’s wrong, you might need to reach out to a professional who can help you make sense of your beliefs in that area. I encourage you to find the nearest counselor and therapist. They can support you in your journey of understanding and overcoming limiting beliefs. Another way to overcome is to research what you’re struggling with and make that part of your goals for the year. Read books, watch Youtube Videos and listen to Podcasts that might be helpful to you to help you experience a breakthrough in a specific area.

Feel free to post any questions and comments below so that we can all learn from each other.




Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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