The Science of Achievement

For creative people with big, gutsy goals

7 Limiting Beliefs You Must Change to Succeed

To reach your biggest goals, you’ll need two things — a map and a motor.

Man facing mountain

90% of courses, books, podcasts and blog posts are maps. They give you the directions to reach a destination.

But simply knowing what you need to do is not enough. Success also requires a motor — a driving force to push you forward.

When it comes to achieving big gutsy goals, your motor is your mindset. And if you feel stuck in pursuit of your goals, your mindset needs a tuneup.

In this post, I’ll reveal 7 limiting beliefs that sabotage success and show you how to replace them with motivating truths.

Limiting Belief #1: Success happens overnight.

“…if you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” — Steve Jobs

Many people believe if an idea is destined for success, you’ll know right away.

This dangerous misconception tempts you to quit after a slow start. And success usually does start slow. Consider my friend Todd Brison.

Today he’s a popular writer on Medium, author of the book The Creative’s Curse, a successful ghost writer, and featured on INC, CNBC, Daily Muse, and Apple News.

But Todd’s first 41 posts on Medium were almost completely ignored. It wasn’t until his 42nd post, “The Answer is No,” that he started gaining serious attention.

Imagine if he’d quit after his 41st post. All of his success — past and future, would never have existed.

Alcoholics Anonymous popularized the quote, “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.”

While success isn’t a miracle, it does take time. And many writers and entrepreneurs never reach their goals simply by quitting too soon.

Motivating Truth: A slow start doesn’t doom you to failure. Momentum grows over time.

Limiting Belief #2: Success comes without failure.

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

Do you know the surprising secret that separates high achievers from the rest of us? High achievers fail more.

We’re raised to believe that some people are born for success while others are born for failure. But the truth is, everyone is born for failure. And the people who learn how to win with failure, get to enjoy success.

Today, Sir James Dyson has an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion, but when he was trying to invent the bagless vacuum, his first 5,126 prototypes failed to produce the results he wanted.

Dyson learned from each experiment, and on his 5,127 attempt, he found the design he was looking for.

Successful people fail more because they try as long as it takes. Are you willing to do the same?

Motivating Truth: The world’s most successful people have failed more than you.

Limiting Belief #3: Success hinges entirely on natural talent.

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” -Tim Notke

Have you ever caught yourself asking, “What’s the point in trying? I’ll never be as smart or talented as THAT guy.”

Dr. Carol Dweck calls this attitude a “fixed mindset” because it’s founded on the belief that if you’re bad at something today, you’ll stay bad forever.

And if that’s your opinion, science is not on your side. Neither is common sense. You have the power to improve your skills through practice.

Today, James Earl Jones is the legendary voice of Mufasa and Darth Vader. But during his difficult childhood, Jones developed a severe stutter. He practiced managing it by reciting poetry in front of his high school class — and went on to outshine billions of people who never had a stutter to overcome.

Motivating Truth: If there’s someone you admire, someone who is truly excellent at what they do, you can bet they improved their skills through practice. You can too.

Limiting Belief #4: Only the very best in the world can ever enjoy success.

“I know I’m not the best. I’m not the best singer, I’m not the best songwriter, I’m not the best player.” — Kid Rock, multi-platinum musician.

When Stephenie Meyer wrote the Twilight series, she was criticized in her craft. Stephen King went as far as saying, “Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn.”

Yet none of the criticism stopped Meyer from selling 100 million books, which kickstarted her reported net worth of $125 million.

Was she the best writer on the planet? Of course not. But she told a fun story people wanted to read.

Would you rather be a phenomenal writer or sell 100 million books?

Motivating Truth: You don’t have to be the best to achieve your goals. You just have to practice your way to proficiency at the skills that really matter.

Limiting Belief #5: Success depends mostly on luck.

“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend Cory currently runs a business that makes $8 million per year. And many people are tempted to say he hit the jackpot of luck.

Cory was selling plasma screen TVs to a wealthy clientele, who taught him about the wealth generating potential of real estate. He entered the market at the beginning of the housing crisis and was quickly making highly profitable deals.

Lucky right?

But here’s the twist.

Cory’s first 30 business ideas failed.

When I asked why he’d kept going, he told me about a book he’d read early in his career.

The author mentioned 9 out of 10 business fail. And Cory remembers thinking, “Wait a minute, so all I need to do is start 10 businesses, and one of them will succeed.”

As it turns out, Cory’s first 10 businesses all flopped. But he kept pushing.

Eventually, he started dropshipping knives on eBay, which led to selling plasma screen TVs, which led to discovering real estate.

So here’s the question. Did Cory get lucky?

I struggle to accuse a man who failed thirty times of getting lucky. Sure, he caught a break, but it’s hard to imagine a world where he wouldn’t eventually succeed.

Cory says, “I didn’t feel like I was failing. I was just doing research. I knew I was going through the same process all the most successful entrepreneurs have endured.”

Motivating Truth: When you keep pushing, and learn from each mistake, you set yourself up for a big break.

Limiting Belief #6: Success is a zero-sum game.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar

Do you hate watching other people succeed? Do you worry their accomplishments will prevent you from reaching your own goals?

Let’s talk about Vampires.

Twilight, the Vampire Diaries, and True Blood were all remarkably successful franchises based on a singular concept (that wasn’t original to any of them).

Did they detract from each other’s success?

Or consider MMA fighter Conor McGregor. After 15 consecutive wins, he lost to Nate Diaz via rear naked choke.

Good for Diaz. Bad for McGregor, right?

Not at all.

The UFC quickly scheduled a rematch, where Conor McGregor made $3 million, the largest purse in UFC history at that time. Diaz made $2 million, a personal best.

It was the first fight in UFC history where both fighters made 7-figures.

Was Diaz’s success a threat to McGregor’s career? Hardly. It made him one of the highest paid fighters in history.

Motivating Truth: If you help your friends succeed, they’re likely to help you too. And the more successful they become, the more helpful they can be.

Limiting Belief #7: Opportunity never knocks twice.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  —  Milton Berle 

When I was a junior in high school, I remember standing in the back corner of a thrift shop looking at an oil painting of the beautiful Pebble Beach golf course.

I had a hunch this painting might be worth something, but I was a poor unemployed high schooler. I needed to test my theory.

This was before cell phones became smart phones, so I drove to my grandparents’ house, dialed up AOL, and crawled my way to Google.

Sure enough, the painting, which was selling for $10 in the thrift shop, was worth over $300. More than any paycheck I’d earned at my part-time job. I jumped back in my car and floored it to the store.

Too late. The clerk told me a collector who knew the true value of the painting had snatched it minutes before.

Moments like these are infuriating, and we’re tempted to dwell on them, but new opportunities pop up every day.

Noah Kagan, Facebook’s 30th employee, was fired shortly before the company went public, costing him an estimated $185 million in stock options.

Later, he walked away from a job as employee #4 at, forfeiting stock options that would have paid him $1.7 million after the company sold.

But today, Kagan is the founder of SumoMe, a popular online marketing tool for collecting email subscribers.

Do you worry your big breaks have all come and gone? A big break is just an opportunity you capitalize on, and opportunity is everywhere.

Motivating Truth: Opportunity keeps knocking even after you screw up. 


The world is brimming with unfinished success stories. Books that haven’t been written. Businesses that haven’t been launched.

In an age flooded with maps, it’s time we turn our attention to the motor.

Success starts with the beliefs in your head.

What you know, who you know, and the opportunities you’re given will all go to waste without the right mindset.

Are you tired of bearing the burden of unmet potential?

Invest in your beliefs.

Want to go deeper?

Do you have big goals you long to achieve? The biggest threat to your success is simply giving up.

Become a finisher with my short book QuitterProof: The 5 Beliefs of Highly Successful People.

Download your free copy right here.

About Kyle Young

Kyle lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Haley and their two puppies, Ralph and Nora. He's a writer, speaker, and consultant for online businesses that are committed to growth.

4 Replies

  1. It is the really awesome write-up. I really like it. thanks for sharing…

    1. Kyle Young

      My pleasure! Glad you found it helpful.

  2. Just self-published this week my first novel to the sound of crickets. Greatly enjoyed this article as a reminder that it’s okay. The road ahead is still long. Never give up and keep on marching. Thank you!

    1. Kyle Young

      Hey, Xeno! First things first: Congratulations on finishing a novel and sharing it with the world! That’s a huge accomplishment that I’ve never personally reached. Second, I’m sorry to hear the results weren’t what you hoped. Here’s the good news. Now that you’ve done the hardest part (writing the book), you can grow your audience and simply re-launch it. is a great resource for writers who are looking to grow their audience. You should check it out!

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