Philosophy Psychology of Success

Are Limiting Beliefs Destroying Your Career?


Several weeks ago, I noticed an acquaintance, “Dr. X,” driving out of the upscale shopping center near my house. I waived hello, but wasn’t sure if X had seen me.

Recently, X apologized for not having recognized me that day. He said that he’s uncomfortable when he goes to that shopping area and is so highly focused on leaving, that he doesn’t really notice what’s going on as he drives out.

I asked what made him uncomfortable about the shopping area. The response: “The ‘rich people,’ you know, like plastic surgeons.”

Confused and curious, I asked X what it was about the people at the shopping area that bothered him. The response: “They’re just so stuffy and pretentious.”

Although it is true that the shopping area parking lot sometimes looks like a Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin dealership, my experience with the people there is that they are as friendly or friendlier than the norm in the greater surrounding community: they generally appear happy, are smiling, and readily initiate or return a greeting.

So what is it about “rich people” that really bothered X?

X appears to have a moderately busy practice, but he is definitely not in the “rat race.” Previously, I thought that that was a choice, but perhaps the conversation revealed something else, that he does not want to become more successful because he will become like those “rich people” whom he clearly dislikes.

I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon many times in the course of dealing with clients in their business relationships. Oftentimes, individuals and groups seem to be putting on the brakes, not pushing on the accelerator, out of some mistaken belief that they occupy some fixed rung, as in a caste system, outside of which they are not permitted to tread.

The concept of accepted beliefs, in this case, of limiting beliefs, has been described as a mimeme, or “meme” for short. Just as X might be holding himself back because he doesn’t want to become like those “rich people” whom he believes are stuffy and pretentious, many internists believe that they are somehow “less than” the hospital administrator who tells then that the hospital-employed hospitalist will be seeing all of the internists’ in-patients. And, on a greater level, many physicians today are willing to fall lockstep into line with hospital-centric notions of healthcare.

Have you bought into these, or other, limiting beliefs, and are they holding you or your group back in your career and business success?

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