Features | April 27, 2022
How Self-Limiting Beliefs Sabotage Change
Change is not a one-and-done experience for a growing team. Change is a rhythm.
Whitestone Branding soared from $1 million in revenue to over 1,000% growth, propelling them onto Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest-growing companies four times.
Jon Alagem and Michael Scott Cohen started Harper+Scott in 2014 and were well over $50 million in revenue by 2022.
When COVID hit, Stephanie Taylor and Jamie Moore of hello promo went from worrying about their survival to recently hiring their tenth team member in a high-velocity turn-around.
Every fast-growth organization knows that change is not merely inevitable but ceaseless. Infrastructure changes, leadership changes, sales process changes: change is the rule, not the exception. The culture that adapts to evolutionary change is a culture that wins. It’s true in nature, and it’s true in business.
And change is almost always the catalyst for growth.
But What Prevents Some Distributors From Adopting Change?
We’ve conducted hundreds of interviews with successful distributors who outpace average industry growth by over 20%. In our work with customers, we’ve identified one success-killing trait the successful promo team does not accept:
Successful people do not let self-limiting beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Self-limiting beliefs are far more than negative thoughts or doubts. Everyone has doubts. But self-limiting beliefs are deeper. Self-limiting beliefs are perceptions you hold that convince you of a (seemingly) incontrovertible truth, making us blind to the possibility that the belief is not only untrue, it’s also dangerously self-fulfilling if you buy into it.
Self-limiting beliefs are half-truths. Half-truths that become convictions when they become a pre-excuse to change. Or as James Victore says inelegantly (but very effectively) in his book, Feck Perfuction, “We pre-shit on ourselves.”
“Words have power. The problem with repeating negative mantras to yourself is that you start to believe them. Then others believe them. Watch your words,” Victore adds.
Self-Limiting Beliefs That are Specific to Our Industry
It’s just too crazy to make any changes right now. Let’s wait until things slow down.
We’re too busy to even think about this right now. Let’s punt this to another season.
We don’t have enough bandwidth for this project yet.
Our team hates change and won’t buy this at all.
Our team is too ____ (fill in the blank: old; young; busy; inexperienced) for this next evolution.
We don’t have the right people for this in place just yet.
We don’t have the right capabilities for this project.
We don’t have the right infrastructure at the moment.
Maybe we’ll consider switching (replacing, improving, etc.) in the fall.
We’re just not big enough to work with that type of client.
We don’t know enough about this to sell it yet.
I’m not smart enough to call on that buyer.
I’m not creative enough to work with that type of account.
The supply chain is such a mess. There’s no way we can handle that right now.
Mitch Freed is the Executive Chairman at Genumark, the largest Canadian-owned distributor of corporate branded merchandise and one of the largest in North America. In a recent skucast episode where Mark was retiring and handing over the CEO reins to Mitch Freed, we asked Mark, “Like many of us looking back at our business journey, there are probably things you would do differently, what would you encourage entrepreneurs not to do?”
Mark’s encouragement: don’t delay.
“Make your decision and then hit go. I think the times where we got in trouble is when we knew what we were supposed to do and we just let it sit. Whether that was a process [change], whether it was personnel, or whether it was a great client fit. Do your work. Figure it out. And move on. Because it’s a fast-paced world out there and you gotta really keep it going,” he said.
The most common enemy we (and our teams) face is not a threatening force outside of us, but a much stealthier foe within: beliefs that limit our potential. Self-limiting beliefs are insidious because they stop you before you even get started.
No matter what change you are considering, a change to your infrastructure, your pay scale, your support team, your sales team, your software, your culture, your client base, your business direction, etc.: abolishing self-limiting beliefs is what the most successful entrepreneurs do well.
“But There’s a Pandmice/Embargo/Supply Chain/Inflation Problem”
Though cataclysmic events like a pandemic can thwart even the most ambitious people, beyond worldwide catastrophes, there’s always something happening in the world to give you pause. Three years ago, it was embargoes and sanctions and the impact on importing. Over the past year, supply chain woes have upended production. And at the moment, inflationary concerns are at the top of everyone’s worry list.
And more specifically, within your own walls, a crisis can strike too. Maybe you lost a key employee. Maybe a key client. It’s often at these moments when the most radical change occurs. In hindsight, most successful people discover that the crisis was not a reason to pause but the very catalyst that created change. Leaning into these moments is what separates the boldly successful from the marginally so.
There could very well be reasons to pause plans moving forward but just be sure your reasons are not false beliefs fueled by fears. Just like you’ll never be ready for marriage or kids, you’ll never be ready for change. “Begin before you’re ready,” continues Victore in his book Feck Perfuction.
Inside your business, it might seem chaotic now, but moments of complete readiness or 100% preparedness rarely come. Today, you will breathe over 23,000 times, and your heart will beat over 100,000 times. Even sitting still, you are ceaseless motion and ceaseless change. Embrace change, not as a one-time occurrence or an occasional shift, but as the river of reality you and your team thrive in.
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