Beliefs Can Hold You Back

People helping peopleAt 16 my father got me a summer job at GE where he worked. I filed punched computer cards. It paid well for a summer job and I was happy at work. After that however my parents insisted I look for a job on my own. Whether they said it or not I got the message that I could take credit for a job I got by myself but when someone else helped me that was not my accomplishment. It was theirs.

In later years when I was looking for a teaching job I went to several interviews in a variety of towns but never asked for help from people I knew in the town. I thought that was against the “rules”. That was my belief. I was able to get a job by myself but I invested a lot of more time in the job search.

20 years later when I was looking for a telecommunications sales job I was a bit more savvy. I knew someone who knew someone who had a high level position at New England Telephone. I used my connection to make it known I was applying for a sales professional job. I got the job.

It was the connection and not my experience that got me the job. I know it now looking back because everyone in the group of 20 or so that was hired at that time was either already working for New England Telephone or had a relative at New England Telephone. Many had no telecom sales experience at all

Even though I knew connections worked I still held the belief that getting a job on your own was somehow more secure because you had done it all yourself. For a couple of months at New England Telephone I was sure someone was going to find out about the connection and let me go. After a while I relaxed and was happy at work.

Beliefs often hold us back. Today if you held the same belief I had it would be difficult to move your career forward. Even though it feels good to say, “I did it all by myself.” It usually isn’t true. A boss, a colleague or a customer helps you along the way. Those connections and others are vital for your career.

A client of mine was certain that it was a sign of weakness to ask others to help him. He had some really good connections-people he liked with whom he had worked and retained contact after they had moved on to a new job. He was reluctant to call them to ask them for advice.

To examine his belief I asked him how he felt when a colleague called him for advice. He told me he was pleased to help a friend and it made him feel good that they had asked him. When I asked if he viewed it as a sign of weakness in that person, he said he did not.

Realizing this he did reach out to friends and colleagues but it still was not natural to him. He knew he would have to do it a number of times to get comfortable doing it and to eliminate the belief he had held so long. The reaction of his friends each time he connected however made him much more confident and willing to continue.

Some beliefs can be zapped once you realize there is a different way to think about it that is true. Others take practice to overcome that strange feeling that you are doing something “wrong”. It is however worth the effort because if you are stuck or overwhelmed, the belief may be what is holding you back.

The first step in getting rid of beliefs that hold you back is to become aware of them. Most of the time no one challenges us on our belief so we continue to hold that belief. A coach can help you to identify, test and then if necessary eliminate a belief. I’d love to help you. Please call me at 781-598-0388 and we can see if we are comfortable working together. If email is better for you please email me at


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