An Achievement Mindset

We often end up being our own impediment to success. People may tell us how good we are. If we do not believe it what end does it serve? Praise for our abilities falls on deaf ears unless we are ready, willing and able to accept it, believe it and act on it.

We are our own worst critics. Many of us struggle with having faith in ourselves. We believe that somehow, we lack a key ingredient enabling us to succeed. Of course, this is false, but if we believe it we will act as if it is true. Hence, our efforts will rarely lead to anything meaningful. Instead, we will be trapped in a purgatory of self-fulfilling negative prophecies.

How can we begin believing in ourselves when we do not?

Instead of attempting to build ourselves up in our own minds, we might assess other individuals who are currently succeeding at whatever it is we want to do.

Often, when we begin critically observing a field of endeavor we find it populated with a great swath of individuals performing at a mediocre level. People are in a field, professional or otherwise, because they chose to be in it. Their level of achievement is largely predicated on that power of choice. They decided they wanted to do something. Then, they showed up to work or school each day and put in enough effort to progress.

How many times have we looked at someone, an actor for example, and thought, “I can do that.” That assessment is likely true. However, the actor decided to act, showed up and did the work. Are we willing to make that choice? Are we willing to make that commitment?

Most people in any field do not provide spectacular examples of excellence. In fact, the people at the top of any field are at the top precisely because most people are not.

Am I advocating the pursuit of mediocrity? Absolutely not. What I am suggesting is we need to walk before we run. And before we can walk we need to believe we can walk. And so, to believe we can walk we need an achievement mindset.

If we are having difficulty believing in ourselves, we might want to look at the broad level of mediocrity in the field we are interested in. That might impel us to believe, “Hey, those folks are not so great. At very least, I could do that.”

Once we have begun earnestly pursuing our dreams then we can focus on excellence. The world is full of people doing what we want to do. They are no better than we are. We can internalize that fact, act on it and develop an achievement mindset.

Image courtesy of [arthur84] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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