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Early this year, one professional gave me her dissertation to read through and make corrections, if need be. I don’t like reading dissertations because most of the ones I’ve read are riddled with grammatical nauseating errors, including some doctoral papers. To give her the benefits of a doubt, I picked it up to look at the first two pages. I usually do that in order to make a decision whether or not it’s worth reading. My God, it was worth the read. She wrote in such a flawless way that I advised her to go into lecturing. In spite of my praise for her work, she didn’t believe in herself.

A fortnight ago, I saw her filling out a job application form, and I asked what role it was, and the position. According to her, it was one step above her current position, and so, I encouraged her to go for it. In addition to telling me about the job, she told me the interview date. Luckily, she was invited to attend – a step closer to getting the job. But when I later enquired about the outcome of the interview, she told me she didn’t attend. She made a zillion excuses why she thinks she’ll fail in the job.

The summary is that a woman so intelligent, and could write almost perfectly, did not believe she could do a job that people far less intelligent than her could. Her problem was self-limiting beliefs.

As she spilled the excuses out of her mouth, I told her to shut up. I stared straight into her eyes and said, “You’re stupid,” and she said, “I know.” Her attitude made me believe that education and confidence are two separate things. Making a first class can’t give you self belief if you don’t work on it!

In 2013, when I was about launching my blog, Success Inks, I identified a number of people that could be potential contributors. One of them was an investment banker in Canary Wharf, London. For those who don’t know London well, Canary Wharf is Europe’s version of Silicon Valley. Besides working for an investment bank, this person made a first class in her undergraduate degree, and in her master’s, she made a distinction. So my conclusion was that for a person so intelligent, her self esteem will be beyond the roof, but I was so wrong!

When I told her about being a contributor to the blog, she was jittery, and with a panicky voice, she said, “I’m ready to do any other thing but not write.”

A woman with a first class and a distinction – a woman that can write so well – a woman I’ve read a bit of her writings, and was impressed, does not believe she can. So terrible; what a self limiting belief can do to someone.

Someone I know said education is boring – I accept, but if it’s the alleyway to take you to where you need to get to, forget about how unexciting it is, and dare that route. And who says entertainment is exciting – it’s only exciting to the spectators. The days, weeks, months and years of rehearsals, trainings and waking up in the dead of the night aren’t exciting to those giving it away. They work assiduously to make you happy – they believe they can. They step on stage, face the crowd that you are scared of – they defy shyness, put on boldness. They are nervous, but refuse to bow to it, and they entertain.

Talk about the footballers – imagine the huge criticisms that befall them each week they play in leagues. In Arsenal for instance, sometimes, I imagine how people like Ozil and Mustafi feel when fans call them all sorts of names, and they still come on the pitch smiling and doing what they can to help their team win.

The fear of getting it wrong make some people lose their self belief, but everyone does get it wrong sometimes. If you want to be perfect before stepping on stage, you may never go on stage.

I drove in Nigeria before relocating to the UK, and I thought I could drive, until my driving instructor began pointing all my mistakes to me. Everyday, as I stepped out to practice, I would say to myself, today, I want to be error-free. I realised that the very days I wanted to be perfect were days I was more imperfect. When I took the test, I didn’t take it as one that was one hundred percent good. During practices, I started learning how to avoid major errors, because I knew that one major error meant automatic failure. And I also learnt how to avoid making more than ten minor errors, because sixteen minor errors meant failure. I passed my test first time, not because I was perfect, but because I understand the rules, and know how to apply them. With my imperfections still there, I passed in just one test.

Let me talk a bit of when I started writing – when I read some things I wrote in the past, I laugh. My punctuation was dreadful, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to do what I love. I was willing to learn, and I am still learning, and will continue to learn. I am not perfect – I don’t want to get to a stage in life where I think I am, because at that stage, I will start falling, and I don’t want to fall.

There’s someone I know. He’s a nice guy. He occasionally calls me, but without any trace of arrogance, I don’t like calling him. By his popularity, I should be privileged to call him regularly because he knows people I want to know, and reaches easily, people I want to reach, but I still don’t have the inner desire to have a stronger relationship with him. Why? When he finds a competition in someone, he goes all out to obliterate the competitor’s personality. He can spend an hour on the phone damaging the image of someone he doesn’t like, and that’s not my kind of person. When I fight, it’s based on principles, not personal hatred or animosity. And when I tell you how dissatisfied I am with you, that’s exactly where it ends, especially when we sort issues out. I easily get bored talking about someone’s ills – if I say it once, twice, thrice, the fourth time, my subconscious will reprimand me, and make me realise that I’m losing focus of the main issues of life – right there, the issue dies. But this guy can address the same issue a million times, in order to gain undue advantages over a perceived foe, and for that, I refused getting close. It took me time to realise that his approach to foes is because of his self limiting beliefs. To make it worse, if he isn’t talking about enemies, he’s talking about himself – he praises himself beyond praise, and in his own eyes, he’s the only gold dug from the earth crust, requiring no reason to be refined – he came out of the ground pure. People with such opinion of themselves have self esteem problems. If at the echelon of a man’s perception, he finds himself faultless, he is a danger to himself.

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Ken is a leadership Motivation, Strategy and Personal Development Writer, Blogger and Speaker. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs. He is also a mentor and published author of several books.

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