7 Destructive Core Beliefs of Entrepreneurs

Core beliefs determine our understanding of who we are and how we go about life or work.Entrepreneurs are no different from other people: We can have core beliefs that help us or destructive ones. Examples for helpful core beliefs could sound like: “I know I can do this.“, “I am in control of my life.“,”I am excellent at selling.

Equally, core beliefs can also be very destructive. Here is a list of some negative core beliefs that I found in my coaching work with entrepreneurs. There are many more.

(1) “I need to prove that I can do this.” This immediately leads to the question: “Who do you need to prove this to?” – Digging deeper often gives way to powerful insights. There might have been a father figure who did not give a young child enough sense of self worth. This core belief could fill a books for entrepreneurs as it can be a driving force but at the same time make you feel empty and unaccomplished.

(2) “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t be done right”. We all know someone like who behaves like this. Yet it is sometimes hard to spot it in ourselves. I recently encountered a gifted entrepreneur whose analytical skills were far superior to anyone else in his company. This led him to a style of micromanagement and abrasiveness with his team with a high churn of staff and a very high personal workload. Accepting that others don’t need to have the same traits as he does is an ongoing process. 

(3) “I have an obligation to my team.” (… to continue, to not take a long holiday…, ). You may indeed have obligations to your team, like being honest about certain things, or paying them fairly. I recently worked with an entrepreneur who built his entire organizational structure into a comfort zone for everyone. That is: everyone but himself. His organisation was supportive for everyone but himself. We worked for quite a while to get the company also giving equal support for him. Performance of the entire organisation improved dramatically.

(4) “I need to utilise my unique talent in the best way for humanity.” Often I see this with entrepreneurs who try to tackle important issues such as global warming. If I don’t do it, nobody will. Some thoughts that might be helpful with this feeling: Humanity got to where we are in a collaborative process. In many ways we stand on the shoulders of giants. You did not invent your toilet, neither did you invent the jet airplane. We all can contribute in positive or negative ways, yet the the world will also continue without us. If this is an insult to your ego, then it is worth digging deeper.

(5) “In then end, I am alone in this.” This core belief can be direct road to a burnout. Underlying, there might be an inability to get help from others. Maybe you did not get help when you needed it as a young child. Maybe you don’t feel you have a right to ask. Learning to get help from others is a super important skill which is surprisingly often missing in the super successful. I once asked an entrepreneur to start asking for directions on the street. He used this to learn that people are generally very helpful.

(6) “I don’t deserve to be where I am.”. Often also imposter syndrome. An example: At my Unconference, where every participant gets to speak, a friend said: “I don’t have anything to say in such an accomplished group”. By any standards this was a very successful individual. He had both financial freedom and fantastic values. But he did not feel he had anything to say to our group of likeminded people.

(7) “I should not celebrate too much, it might end soon.” I had this in phases of my life when things where going very well. I was reluctant to celebrate. Behind it, there wasa a superstition that I would provoke an end of things going well. I now believe that this had to do with what my grandfather said to me when I was a child, along the lines of “don’t get cocky”. We can understand why a grandfather gives some guidelines like these to a child, but for me it meant a serious restriction in savouring and celebrating what deserves celebrating.

As always, happy for thoughts, comments. What core beliefs have you recently encountered?

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