Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your result with who you are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever put so much work into something and it failed?

Have you ever missed a big opportunity?

Have you ever been in a situation where it looks like you’re the dumbest person on the planet?

I’ve been there, and I know it hurts.

It hurts to throw yourself into something, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts when denied an opportunity you know you’re qualified for, and other less-qualified people got selected. It hurts to see everyone else progressing, but you’re still stagnant. 

Many people, when they experience failure, start thinking that is their destiny. They buy into what Les Brown calls “the never lies”: I’m never going to amount to anything; I’ll never be happy.

Their self-image gets destroyed by their experience and life becomes meaningless. They live day-to-day and every waking moment is mental torture. They’re like the woman in the book, The Alchemist, every day is just the same and there’s nothing to hope for.

If you’re going through a failure situation, I have good news for you: There’s a science-based formula for reinventing yourself! I know it works because it worked on me. While I cannot promise you fame or fortune, I can guarantee, however, that if you apply these principles, you will not only reinvent yourself, but you will be rightly positioned to do remarkable things in life!

3 Steps for Conquering Failure & Missed Opportunities

Step 1: Detox your mind

“Success and prosperity are nothing more than a way of thinking. We need to think differently.” – Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group.

woman taking photo while smiling

Nutritionists and psychotherapists have found several reasons why we need to occasionally detoxify our bodies: To remove toxins from the body, prevent chronic diseases, lose weight, enhance the function of our immune system, and so on. Likewise, we must occasionally detox our minds.

The problem with many people is that their mind has accumulated several layers of negative silos from their experiences of failure. They’re afraid of taking risks because they think they will never make it. This is what experts call associative conditioning – your mind preventing you from taking actions it links with pain and pushing you to the ones it links with pleasure.

If this is you, take heart, you can break that cycle from today! How? By detoxifying your mind!

Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University developed a groundbreaking learning theory called a growth mindset. It’s a sharp deviation from the common belief that a person’s talents are cast in stone. A growth mindset is a concept that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. It is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. In other words, failure is not final, it can be conquered with efforts.

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Is your life on track or are you drifting? Are you feeling stuck and powerless? Do you feel overwhelmed?

The good news is: Whatever damage negative, limiting thoughts have done in your life can be undone by you detoxifying your mind. Hence, you can begin, now, to fill your mind with positivity. You can begin to believe that things always go well with you. You can begin to believe that you’re a success. You can begin to expect amazing things to happen – and research says the universe will correspond to the nature of your song!

Mind over matter? Yes, but that’s not all. You have to take actions that resonate with your new self-image. Create a picture of who you want to be and propel your life in that direction through massive action (we’d take a deep dive into this in point 2). When you believe something, you commit to it.

Step 2: Define priorities and cut the clutters

Some people chase too many things at the same time. Their attention and energy strains between several options.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown explains that, for centuries, that word “priority” was singular. It meant the first thing. Before somewhere around the 20th century, when the plural “priorities” magically surfaced, there can only be one first thing. Today, a lot of us are choked with several first things that we’re stumbling.

We’re in motion yet without tangible results. It’s time to press a pause on your endless to-dos and check your life:

  • What have you achieved in the past two years of your business, career or life?
  • What are the failures you’ve experienced in that process?
  • Is there a correlation between your lack of focus in your success or failed efforts?
  • What is the one thing that if achieved will move your life further?
  • What has been a drag to your life that you need to let go of?

When you’re done ferreting out answers to these questions, then it’s time to commit. If you’re a business owner, you’d probably discover that your lack of focus and strategy is sapping your energy. In other words, you’re a control freak and it’s killing your productivity. It might make sense to delegate or outsource the activities that do not rank within your strengths and specialize in those you excel in.

If you’re a student, you may realize that you’re spending too much time on other stuff instead of your studies. It’s quite easy to slack at school these days. The truth is: Education is still prime, regardless of your aspirations.

See, success is not accidental. Being a “jack of all trade or gonna-doer” does not translate to success either. It makes us lousy because, as Tony Elumelu said, you can have it all but not at the same time.

Pinpoint where your time and efforts are going, set your focus on a specific target, seek mentor support in guiding your path, and, commit to a course of action.

Focus your energy on those things that move you closer to bigger opportunities. To quote McKeown, “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

Step 3: Create “A-Game” partnerships

Several research studies have tested the correlation between accountability and success, and the results always pointed to a similar conclusion: “Publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. And, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.”

Why is this so? Why is there a high chance for us to follow through on a commitment to someone else than to ourselves? The reason is simple: We’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone we trust and respect.

Believe it or not, accountability works – every, single, time.

Consequently, when it comes to choosing your inner circle, you need people who hold you to high standards. You need people who are transformational and self-motivated. This is what I call “A-Game” partners.

Says Benjamin P Hardy: “The mere fact that most people avoid accountability is a powerful reason to create LOTS of it in your life.”

Your “A-Game” partners are innovators – they are continually pushing boundaries and breaking molds. They understand they’re responsible for their lives and results hence they take action in creating the outcomes they want.

One of my “A-Game” partners is a young woman I met a few years ago. Although we come from different backgrounds, we share similar worldviews. To her, the world is binary: If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Her unique insights and simple approach to life are remarkable. We intrinsically challenge each other to grow further and outdo our pasts.

Do you have an “A-Game” partner? Do you have someone to whom you can peel off your life without the fear of being judged or criticized? Are you carefully choosing your network or are you tiptoeing around with losers?

If you don’t have good people around you, find some. And, don’t just find one, create an army. Immerse yourself in a network of people who inspire you to become better. Remember: Relationships thrive when each party is pulling along. So, don’t just take, give back.

You can overcome failure and missed opportunities

If you’ve experienced failure or missed several opportunities, this is the time rewrite your story. Be patient with yourself as you practice the following three steps: 1) detox your mind, 2) define your priority, and 3) create an “A-Game” partners.

Being a failure is a state of the mind. Don’t confuse your results with who you are. Every failed attempt moves you further. Another thing I want you to remember is that just because someone else is prospering doesn’t make you a failure – focus on your own journey. Invest in yourself, improve your worth, become inspiring. And, the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you’d be ready!

About the Author

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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“It wasn’t until the early part of 2017 that it dawned on me: impostor syndrome could follow me the rest of my life if I didn’t make a change!”

Part of my job at SFAN – the one I enjoy so much – is being a connector: bringing innovators, thinkers, corporate executives, and co-dreamers together to spark off a meaningful career or business conversation.

Regardless of the theme, there’s usually that moment when someone talks about his or her struggles with impostor syndrome. There is usually that moment when someone recounts how he or she grappled with the fear of being exposed as a fraud at work.

Looking back at my own life, I remember my struggle with the feelings of insecurity. As a teenager, I had several internalized fears that I was not good enough.

It got prevalent when I came to Ghana. There was an occasional reminder that I didn’t belong in some groups at school due to some of those pervasive stereotypes about Nigerians. This translated into life after college as I decided to continue building SFAN instead of going back home. There was that constant on-and-off struggle with being an outsider. And, when coupled with the pressure of creating a sustainable growth engine for my business and leading my team, the result was constant anxiety because of my limited knowledge.

It wasn’t until the early part of 2017 that it dawned on me: impostor syndrome could follow me the rest of my life if I didn’t make a change!

Tony Robbins once said that if something is important to you, you have to make it a study. So I decided to study how to work on my mindset and face this monstrous impostor syndrome.

Here’s what worked for me:

1. Embrace Who You Are

“There are many challenges in life, but do not be imprisoned by your own thoughts and fears.” – Strive Masiyiwa

women's blue and white floral surplice neckline camisole

At the early stages of my career, I thought the best way to overcome the impostor syndrome was to be “twice as good.” But, the harder I worked, the more I felt that people around me did not acknowledge my contribution.

And it bothered me – almost to the point and often to the point that I considered changing my name to a Ghanaian name just to fit in.

Come to find out, about 70% of people across cultures are affected by this same feeling of being a fraud at something. In fact, highly successful people like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Natalie Portman of Hollywood all suffered from impostor syndrome at different points in their career.

But instead of living in denial, they chose to make peace with that feeling and over-index on their truth. When you are true to your core, you stifle the inner conflicts that often make some people “fake it to make it.”

In my own life, I had to come to grips with the fact that my only limitation is my mind. I am a Nigerian entrepreneur in whatever context I operate from and that’s not going to change. Regardless of certain skewed narratives about my country, I am comfortable introducing myself as a Nigerian. And, I am comfortable being under the microscopic eyes of people that feel some of my results are too good to be true.

For the record, there are negative people in any part of the world.

People are people everywhere – the most important thing is to keep an open mind and silence the negative voices in your head.

Says Wayne Dyer, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” As entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge we face is often what goes on in our heads. What you complain about today might just be the physical equivalence of the thoughts and images you’ve been harboring in your mind. In other words, “what you focus on expands and becomes real for you.”  

If you have been feeling pinned-down by your mistakes and insecurities, it’s time to embrace who you are without a sense of guilt. It’s time to stop letting the impostor syndrome be a liability and make it an opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive!  

2. Build Your Self-Confidence Through Positive Self-Talk

There has been considerable emphasis on the fact that positive self-talk is an effective strategy for enhancing learning and optimizing performance.

It’s true; what we say to ourselves has more effect on our perception of control, confidence, and spiritual wellbeing.

David Goggins is considered by many as the strongest man alive. Goggins is the only member of the US Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, US Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He was also the Guinness record holder for the most number of pull-ups done in 24 hours.

He attributed a major part of his success to a concept known as a Cookie Jar. The Cookie Jar is a secret weapon which contains every setback he has overcome in his life. And in times of struggle, he’ll remember how he went to three hell week as a Navy SEAL and completed two. He’ll remind himself that suffering is just a test. With that constant reminder, he is able to attack whatever obstacle life throws in his path and win.

Says Goggins in his book, Can’t Hurt Me: “Remembering what you’ve been through and how that has strengthened your mindset can lift you out of a negative brain loop and help you bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in.”

People with impostor syndrome often fear new challenges because they feel unworthy, inadequate, and incompetent. Click To Tweet

Create your own reality and reinforce that picture by speaking words of courage and power to yourself. See yourself handling your challenges, building your business, getting the contracts and becoming an influencer.

If you’re new to this type of thinking, it might feel like a lie at the beginning but that is where the fun begins. Impress that thought to your mind through positive affirmations and it’ll go to work in shifting your energy to put you at a peak state.

At this point, your brain will begin to shift from victim to victor mentality. You’ll dress better and feel more confident. You’ll begin to think like a global citizen. You’ll have more ideas on how to improve your work and the lives of those around you. You’re not worried about competitors because you’re your own competition. This is what psychologists call a mental and emotional breakthrough. And once you’ve tasted that feeling, nothing else can satisfy.

3. Deliver on Your Commitments

“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.” – Michael Jordan

white ceramic mug with coffee on top of a planner
Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Too many people don’t honor their commitments.


They lack a sense of character. Their words do not mean much to them. They have no resolve and they have no issue wiggling out of their commitments because deep down, they don’t believe in themselves.

They prefer to drift along instead of stepping across the line because of the fear of uncertainty. They prefer the comfort of mediocrity to the uncertainty of daring incredible things in life.

Their language is “I will try.”

Successful people don’t “try,” they either do it or they don’t do it at all. They deliver on their commitments no matter what happens. They know that their word is their bond so they are selective about what they commit to.

In the language of research, commitment means binding yourself to a course of action. It means you’ve passed your point of no return and you’ve burned your bridges.

Tony Robbins breaks down the labyrinth involved in actualizing this strategy in three simple steps:

  • Make a decision while you’re in a high emotional or peak state
  • Commit to your decision by removing everything in your environment that may conflict with it and hold yourself accountable through multiple channels
  • Make up your mind that your decision is final and it will happen.

When we were planning the inaugural Student Entrepreneurship Week Ghana, there were many obstacles we had to overcome. At one point, I felt like we didn’t have what it takes to create an event of that magnitude. But we were fully committed. It was obligational, not conditional.

Be aware, when you make your decision, your resolve will be tested. There’d be times when everything that could go wrong will go wrong. This is when you must remember the reason why you got started in the first place.

Your resolve must be strong.

There is an emotional juice that comes from results and a sense of knowing that “you earned this.” It makes you feel good about yourself. It builds up your credibility and you love your work more.

You give more thought to nuancing your delivery and your results will correspond with your new state of mind.

Before long, people will take notice of your excellence and pay you more for your services which will lead to creating more top-rated work.

There is a higher calling for each one of us. At some point in our lives, every one of us has seen our “other self;” that inner man or woman of substance. But many people choose to be hemmed-in by society and stereotypes instead of liberating themselves from the clutch of limited thinking to be all they could be.

To be completely honest, there are still moments when that little voice of impostor syndrome makes me feel unworthy of my results or certain aspirations. But I know better now. I know how to wear my identity like a badge of honor while progressively improving my personality, results, and outlook on life. 

You too can do the same!

About the Author

Tom-Chris | #Readyforwork

Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed reading this article, consider sharing it so that others can find it! 

Featured Image by Collins Lesulie on Unsplash

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A science-based blueprint for achieving 10x faster results

We’ve all experienced that moment of great excitement as the New Year approaches —we’re pumped, the world looks small, and we can’t wait to do great and wonderful things!

Some of us make lofty resolutions like:

This year, I will be a millionaire.

This year, I will be the manager of my organization.

This year, I will find my Prince Charming.

But, as the days roll into weeks and weeks become months, the euphoria of the New Year gradually wears off.

And so does the motivation to achieve our goals until we’re so tapped out and counsel ourselves to forget them.

I’ve often wondered; why is it that many people seem to know what they can do to change their lives but don’t do those things. Why is it that some people succeed where others failed? What is the secret to achieving great results?

Come to find out, it’s all based on a simple formula — so simple that some of us ignore it.

If you are among the people who have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t achieve their goals, well my friend, the time for excuses is over. After you read this post, there will be no reason you can’t achieve exponential results in anything you want to do. Likewise, if you want to take your result to the next and higher level, I’m about to provide you with a template for creating massive success. The principles shared herein is science-based!

How to Achieve Faster Results: A Simple Formula to Follow

Step 1: Multiply Your Goals By 10.

“Wherever it is you want to go, there is a long and conventional path, and there are shorter, less conventional approaches.” — Benjamin Hardy.

Incremental success is possible, and it’s possible for everyone. But, it takes a different mindset to actualize it.

If you want to change your life and results, you cannot set conventional goals. You have to set goals SO HUGE that it beats your mind how you can achieve it — goals that require strong faith to believe the possibility of making them happen. Richard Branson said, “If your dreams don’t scare you they are too small.”

The size of your goals determines the trajectory of your life because it raises your awareness and fuels your creativity.

Big goals attract big people. They attract the people and resources that resonate with that frequency. The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it, Michelangelo said.

He was right.

Anyone that has achieved anything worthwhile will tell you that what they had was clarity of what they wanted to do, not the process. You need to commit first and figure out the process as you go along.

Commitment produces clarity and clarity drive action; it helps you persist and persevere. In the language of research, commitment means binding yourself to a course of action.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. Christopher Reeve

Step 2: Multiply Your Actions By 10.

In his book, 10x Rule, The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, Grant Cardone reduced the labyrinth of the key to achieving incremental success to a) setting targets for yourself that are 10x greater than what you believe you can achieve and b) taking actions that are 10x greater than what you believe is necessary to achieve your goals.

Says Grant: Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions. When you start rethinking your targets, making up excuses and letting yourself off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams!

Most people give up the moment they hit roadblocks in trying to achieve their goals. They become trapped in a state of “a knowledge-action gap;” where they know what they should do but cannot do them.

As they indulge in this limiting process, their brains create patterns that strengthen the habit.

It’s what behavioral psychology calls, associative conditioning; where our brains stop us from taking actions it links to pain or reinforcing actions it links to pleasure.

This distinguishes people we call winners from losers. It’s all in the state of their consciousness.

You may have these incredible ideas and you think what’s missing is motivation. But that’s not true because the way our minds are wired and the fact about the human being is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive. — Mel Robbins

Stop waiting for motivation and start chasing your goals. Prime your mind that obstacles will arise — people will call you crazy, old friendships could fail, the wheels might come off — but you must keep pushing the status quo!

The question is no longer how bad you want it. The real question is; how much work are you willing to put in to actualize it?

Create an intense demand on yourself that you can’t help but respond. Hard work is your first guarantee for achieving your goals.

When you rid yourself of average thinking and average action, you improve your self-worth and metacognition.

Step 3: Set Time Aside For Re-creation.

Edith Harbaugh, the CEO of LaunchDarkly, shared her most transferable lesson from riding a bike to building startups and software with The First Round awhile back. She said, “every ride starts with zero. Once your direction is set, begin each day with a blank slate.”

But, beginning every day with a clean slate requires that you set specific time aside to measure your results and to refill yourself.

The creative process is an inside-out approach.

Like Benjamin Hardy said, mental creation always precedes physical creation. Before a building is physically constructed, there’s a blueprint.

Create a ritual that helps you to evaluate your work, reassess your strategies, realign your thoughts and redirect your energy.

Performing at your best and being in a peak state requires you master your mind and your body. The easiest way to achieving mastery over your mind and body is through good diet, proper exercise and rest, prayer and meditation, and reproducing your ideas. Science confirms your best thoughts come to you immediately following a good sleep or in an activity that pushes you to the limit.

Your mind has all the answers you’re seeking for; what you need to do is trigger the impulse that generates what experts call “fluid intelligence.”

In the words of James Allen, bestselling author of As A Man Thinketh, the mind is the master power that molds and makes, and man is mind, and evermore he takes the tool of thought, and, shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills. He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass.

Therefore, make your mind an ally and milk those thoughts through productive work every day.

Step 4: Build A Support System.

Napoleon Hill popularized the concept of a mastermind group through his classic self-help, Think And Grow Rich. In the book, Hill defines a mastermind group as “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”

Great leaders in business and corporations have known this. Though the practice and terminology may change from culture to culture, the principle remains the same: other people’s expectations of you influence how you end up.

Professor of Cognitive Robotics and the Philosophy of Knowledge, Mark H. Bickhard, wrote the following in his thesis entitled, How Does the Environment Affect the Person?

It is generally assumed that human beings perceive and understand the world through the senses and that that epistemic connection with the world occurs via the transmission of information from the world through those senses into a mind. The converse perspective on this same assumption is that the environment influences individuals, both microgenetically and developmentally, via the information that is generated in that environment and transmitted into the minds of those individuals.

Your environment has to do with who you are. Therefore, surround yourself with people who believe in you and hold you to high standards — people who help you grow and become your best self.

Surround yourself with people who help you nuance your thinking and overcome your inhibition.

If you’re the smartest person in your group, you probably need another group. Always, put yourself in a position that makes you feel like a little fish swimming in a big jar.

You grow and learn.

You become wiser.

You aspire to catch up with everyone else and your zeal to succeed will silence your fears and the desire for complacency.

Says Grant Cardone:

You have to be obsessed. Nobody has ever accomplished something incredible without obsession. The ability to be obsessed is not a disease, it is a gift. The saying “under commit and over deliver” is stupid. Instead, over commit and figure out how to show up at a higher level. Success is like a garden; you must constantly tend to it and care for it. Don’t worry about how much work it is; think about how great the results will be. Challenge traditions and established ways of thinking. Approach everything with the attitude that it can be done. Believe that you will figure it out. Don’t follow the pack; lead the pack.

Tom-Chris✨ #Readyforwork
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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