I realized the way I was talking to myself was ruining my business

Jun 29, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Image: Yuri Arcurs/Getty Images

Soon after I started my own small business, a friend took me out for lunch and asked how the new business was going. "Scary," I answered. "I'm doing all kinds of things for the first time, and my business survival depends on it."

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The next week, I took another friend out for lunch. He was starting his own business, and I wanted to get a sense of what he was encountering. I asked him about his experience, and he answered differently than I had. "Exciting," he responded. "I'm doing a lot of things for the first time. What a thrill!"

The contrast stopped me cold. Was I talking to myself in a way that created success or was I undermining myself? If you've recently caught yourself raining on your own parade or if you wonder if you're inadvertently your worst enemy, try these five secrets to move toward a success orientation.

1. Change how do you talk to yourself

When you hesitate to speak up, do you tell yourself it's because you're shy? By saying that, you're enforcing the past instead of working to change the present and the future. Try this switch: "I used to be shy, but I'm working on becoming braver" or "I may be shy, but I'm also gutsy. Here goes."

2. Reassess how you view any past failures

If you take risks, you'll occasionally fail. So what? Life is the classroom that gives you the test before it shares the lesson. Failure teaches you what you needed to learn. Seen in this light, failure becomes your path toward success. A steep uphill struggle doesn't mean you're lacking; it means you've set your sights high.

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3. Give up comparing yourself to anyone but yourself

If you compare yourself to others, you'll often select a comparison area in which you come up short. Worse, because you know your own struggles and mistakes and generally only see the other's results, you'll wonder why your road seems so much harder.

Give up those comparisons. Compare yourself to yourself. What have you learned to do better in the last month? How have you improved yourself this week? When you add up what you've learned and how you've improved, you remind yourself you're constantly moving forward.

4. Ask solution questions

You power your own success when you ask solution questions such as "How will I make this happen?" and "What's my next step?" In contrast, those who ask themselves self-doubt questions such as "Am I good enough?" sap their energy and motivation.

5. Don't wait

Some people makes lists and plans without ever actually acting on what they want. If you want success, don't wait for a sign you should start or for someone else to tell you they think you're ready. Take the next step now. After all, your next step may change your plans, so spend more time acting and less time considering.

If you need a nudge, ask yourself these two questions: "What do I want to make happen?" and "How can I get better?" Once you answer these questions, act to make your answers reality.

Have a question for Lynne? Email her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com with subject "SheKnows" and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.

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© 2016, Lynne Curry. Lynne is an executive coach and author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. You can follow Lynne through her other posts on sheknows.com, via www.workplacecoachblog.com, www.bullywhisperer.com™ or @lynnecurry10 on Twitter.