Overcome Mediocrity: The 5 Mental Barriers That May Hold You Back

Table of Contents

After coaching hundreds of high performers, I noticed that when people are not successful, it is not because of a lack of ability or opportunity.

It is because they do not want to succeed or they do not think they can.

I am always surprised, for example, by the number of people telling me they do not want to be rich.

This resistance rationally does not make sense, as wealth would give them many more options. But humans are not rational beings.

Most people who are not wealthy do not want to be. Consciously or subconsciously.

Our brain does not match our beliefs to our life. Our brain matches our life to our beliefs.

We will only notice the external information that matches our beliefs and ignore all the rest. We will take action according to our beliefs and, therefore, reinforce a reality that matches our beliefs.

So, it becomes evident that if you want to change your life, you need to change your beliefs.

Here are five limiting beliefs that keep people from being successful. Which one has affected you the most in your life?


1. There is scarcity; there is not enough to go around

If you believe there is scarcity, you will always behave like you are poor.

You will not be generous. You will be afraid to invest in your education, product or quality of life out of fear that not more money will come in. You will be hoarding your cash. You will be competitive.

Wealthy and successful people believe in abundance. They make the pie bigger for everyone. They are happy to let money go because they know it is an infinite, replenishable resource. Just like solar energy.  

The worldwide GDP per capita in 1960 was $457, and the earth’s population was 3 Billion. The population has now exploded to 7.5 billion. You would expect more scarcity, right?

But this is not what happened.

In 2022, the worldwide GDP per capita was $12,647. Even with adjusting for inflation, the growth is staggering.

Human innovation and creativity are unlimited resources.

Successful people believe in abundance. They are generous. They collaborate instead of competing with others because they believe there is more than enough for everybody.

They let the money flow in and out rather than keep it stagnant.

If you are generous and invest in yourself, your learning, and your products, your value in the marketplace increases. When that happens, guess what? You become more abundant.  

The benefit of believing in an abundant universe is that you create an abundant life.


2. What I want is not possible for me

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right,” said Henry Ford.

Successful people have a different perception of what is possible than the rest.

People said that Steve Jobs could bend reality.

Elon Musk became the richest person in the world because he believed he could do things that most people thought impossible. Like revolutionising the car industry or launching a used rocket into space.

When I worked at Google, they introduced the 10x moonshots. They argued that improving something 10x is easier than improving it 10%. Because you have to reimagine the whole thing. And because there is less competition.

The world has always been advanced by the people who believed in the impossible and then achieved it.

Here is the thing. After coaching hundreds of people on what they want, I have never met anyone who wants something impossible for them. I mean really want it out of joy, purpose and desire, not because of social conditioning or advertising.

More often, the problem was that people did not pursue what they really wanted, but they pursued what they thought would be more possible.

We do not know anything about 99.9999% of the world around us. How can we even believe that we know what is possible?

Jim Carrey’s father wanted to be an artist, too, but he pursued a safer option and became an accountant. This choice made him bitter, and at 51, he was fired, and the family became homeless.

Jim Carrey said: “I learned many great lessons from my father–not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”


3. Others’ needs are more important

Finding ego pleasure in being a martyr keeps people stuck in mediocrity and lack of fulfilment.

While in crises like a war or a fire, being a self-sacrificing hero can be admirable, it never works for a longer time frame.

Martyrs become resentful, ruining their relationships with the people they are trying to serve.

Also, would you like to be on the receiving end of someone sacrificing their own wants for yours?

Would you like your parent, partner, or kids to sacrifice themselves to please you?

Of course not.

Then why sacrifice your wants for your parents, partners, or kids?

Successful people know they are at their best when they fully express themselves in this lifetime. That is when they can serve anybody else.

We are all equipped with an internal GPS that will tell us what to do to enjoy maximum impact and fulfillment.

The worst thing we can do is turn off our GPS and follow someone else’s.

Because it will lead us on their path instead of our own.

And that will be a loss. For everyone.


4. I am not worthy, yet

Unfulfilled people think they need to earn their worth. This is probably the biggest misconception of all.

If you believe that, you will sabotage your success because you are not “worth” it yet. You will think you need to work harder, sacrifice more, and do more good deeds to be worth it.

If only the people who work hard deserve love and abundance, then as a society, we should not care for the kids, the sick and the elderly.

That is an absurd idea.

We know instinctively that everyone is worthy of living a great life.

Successful people do not question their worthiness. They know that every human deserves love and abundance.

When you believe you are worthy of the best life can offer, you won’t sabotage your success.

You will receive gracefully everything that comes your way. And the better you are at receiving, the more you receive.


5. Changing is more painful than staying the same

Resistance to change is a huge reason why people get stuck in mediocrity.

The fact is that change is inevitable. But, if you stay with the pain, you know, rather than trying something new, it becomes worse and worse.

Most life-threatening diseases started developing years before they were diagnosed. People ignored the early symptoms. Not making a lifestyle change early led to increased problems down the line.

Michael Beckwith said, “Either you will be pulled by your vision, or you will be pushed by your pain. “

I have found this to be true.

The longer you leave it to make a change because you think it will be a bigger hustle than staying where you are, the more your pain will increase. Until you have no choice but to change.


Conclusion

In conclusion, success is often blocked by our own beliefs. The five main blocks – thinking there’s not enough, believing what you want is impossible, sacrificing yourself, feeling unworthy, and fearing change – stop many from reaching their full potential.

To overcome these, we need to see things differently. Believe in abundance, aim for the “impossible,” value our own needs, know we’re worthy, and embrace change.

Changing these beliefs can lead to a better, more successful life.

Which one of those mental blocks resonated?


Download my free guide about How To Let Go Of Everything That Does Not Align With Your Vision.

Discover how to:
Identify what to let go of first.
Choose one of the 7 strategies to let go with grace and without burning any bridges.
Ensure unwanted activities do not creep back in.

Link here.

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Picture of Caterina Kostoula

Caterina Kostoula

Caterina Kostoula is an executive coach and founder of The Leaderpath.

Her mission is to coach pioneering leaders for impact and fulfilment.

She has worked as a Global Business Leader at Google where she was
also a 5-star rated internal coach. She has coached leaders and teams from Google, Amazon, Stripe and Workable, as well as a number of startups.

Caterina teaches the popular Life Vision Programme at INSEAD Business School.

Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company and Thrive Global. Her best-selling book, “Hold Successful Meetings”, was published by Penguin in 2021. Her TEDx talk is called “Do your goals prevent your success?”

Education

– MSc in Executive Coaching from Ashridge Business School (EMCC-accredited)

– INSEAD MBA

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Overcome Mediocrity: The 5 Mental Barriers That May Hold You Back

After coaching hundreds of high performers, I noticed that when people are not successful, it is not because of a lack of ability or opportunity.

It is because they do not want to succeed or they do not think they can.

I am always surprised, for example, by the number of people telling me they do not want to be rich.

This resistance rationally does not make sense, as wealth would give them many more options. But humans are not rational beings.

Most people who are not wealthy do not want to be. Consciously or subconsciously.

Our brain does not match our beliefs to our life. Our brain matches our life to our beliefs.

We will only notice the external information that matches our beliefs and ignore all the rest. We will take action according to our beliefs and, therefore, reinforce a reality that matches our beliefs.

So, it becomes evident that if you want to change your life, you need to change your beliefs.

Here are five limiting beliefs that keep people from being successful. Which one has affected you the most in your life?


1. There is scarcity; there is not enough to go around

If you believe there is scarcity, you will always behave like you are poor.

You will not be generous. You will be afraid to invest in your education, product or quality of life out of fear that not more money will come in. You will be hoarding your cash. You will be competitive.

Wealthy and successful people believe in abundance. They make the pie bigger for everyone. They are happy to let money go because they know it is an infinite, replenishable resource. Just like solar energy.  

The worldwide GDP per capita in 1960 was $457, and the earth’s population was 3 Billion. The population has now exploded to 7.5 billion. You would expect more scarcity, right?

But this is not what happened.

In 2022, the worldwide GDP per capita was $12,647. Even with adjusting for inflation, the growth is staggering.

Human innovation and creativity are unlimited resources.

Successful people believe in abundance. They are generous. They collaborate instead of competing with others because they believe there is more than enough for everybody.

They let the money flow in and out rather than keep it stagnant.

If you are generous and invest in yourself, your learning, and your products, your value in the marketplace increases. When that happens, guess what? You become more abundant.  

The benefit of believing in an abundant universe is that you create an abundant life.


2. What I want is not possible for me

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right,” said Henry Ford.

Successful people have a different perception of what is possible than the rest.

People said that Steve Jobs could bend reality.

Elon Musk became the richest person in the world because he believed he could do things that most people thought impossible. Like revolutionising the car industry or launching a used rocket into space.

When I worked at Google, they introduced the 10x moonshots. They argued that improving something 10x is easier than improving it 10%. Because you have to reimagine the whole thing. And because there is less competition.

The world has always been advanced by the people who believed in the impossible and then achieved it.

Here is the thing. After coaching hundreds of people on what they want, I have never met anyone who wants something impossible for them. I mean really want it out of joy, purpose and desire, not because of social conditioning or advertising.

More often, the problem was that people did not pursue what they really wanted, but they pursued what they thought would be more possible.

We do not know anything about 99.9999% of the world around us. How can we even believe that we know what is possible?

Jim Carrey’s father wanted to be an artist, too, but he pursued a safer option and became an accountant. This choice made him bitter, and at 51, he was fired, and the family became homeless.

Jim Carrey said: “I learned many great lessons from my father–not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”


3. Others’ needs are more important

Finding ego pleasure in being a martyr keeps people stuck in mediocrity and lack of fulfilment.

While in crises like a war or a fire, being a self-sacrificing hero can be admirable, it never works for a longer time frame.

Martyrs become resentful, ruining their relationships with the people they are trying to serve.

Also, would you like to be on the receiving end of someone sacrificing their own wants for yours?

Would you like your parent, partner, or kids to sacrifice themselves to please you?

Of course not.

Then why sacrifice your wants for your parents, partners, or kids?

Successful people know they are at their best when they fully express themselves in this lifetime. That is when they can serve anybody else.

We are all equipped with an internal GPS that will tell us what to do to enjoy maximum impact and fulfillment.

The worst thing we can do is turn off our GPS and follow someone else’s.

Because it will lead us on their path instead of our own.

And that will be a loss. For everyone.


4. I am not worthy, yet

Unfulfilled people think they need to earn their worth. This is probably the biggest misconception of all.

If you believe that, you will sabotage your success because you are not “worth” it yet. You will think you need to work harder, sacrifice more, and do more good deeds to be worth it.

If only the people who work hard deserve love and abundance, then as a society, we should not care for the kids, the sick and the elderly.

That is an absurd idea.

We know instinctively that everyone is worthy of living a great life.

Successful people do not question their worthiness. They know that every human deserves love and abundance.

When you believe you are worthy of the best life can offer, you won’t sabotage your success.

You will receive gracefully everything that comes your way. And the better you are at receiving, the more you receive.


5. Changing is more painful than staying the same

Resistance to change is a huge reason why people get stuck in mediocrity.

The fact is that change is inevitable. But, if you stay with the pain, you know, rather than trying something new, it becomes worse and worse.

Most life-threatening diseases started developing years before they were diagnosed. People ignored the early symptoms. Not making a lifestyle change early led to increased problems down the line.

Michael Beckwith said, “Either you will be pulled by your vision, or you will be pushed by your pain. “

I have found this to be true.

The longer you leave it to make a change because you think it will be a bigger hustle than staying where you are, the more your pain will increase. Until you have no choice but to change.


Conclusion

In conclusion, success is often blocked by our own beliefs. The five main blocks – thinking there’s not enough, believing what you want is impossible, sacrificing yourself, feeling unworthy, and fearing change – stop many from reaching their full potential.

To overcome these, we need to see things differently. Believe in abundance, aim for the “impossible,” value our own needs, know we’re worthy, and embrace change.

Changing these beliefs can lead to a better, more successful life.

Which one of those mental blocks resonated?


Download my free guide about How To Let Go Of Everything That Does Not Align With Your Vision.

Discover how to:
Identify what to let go of first.
Choose one of the 7 strategies to let go with grace and without burning any bridges.
Ensure unwanted activities do not creep back in.

Link here.