By: Stan Silverman, Leadership Catalyst, Tier 1 Group

December 28, 2015 9:30 am EST

Why do people experience various degrees of success over the course of their careers? During my career, I have observed many successful people and those wanting to achieve success. Among the many personal characteristics that can help increase one’s chances of career success, I believe that two stand out above the rest.

The proverb, ...

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are usually right,”

... is ascribed to Henry Ford. Your attitude and your ability to push through self-perceived limitations play key roles in how successful you will be.

A friend at my gym drove this home for me about 18 months ago. I had been doing assisted chin-ups on an exercise machine that uses counterweights because I believed I did not have sufficient upper-body strength to do a chin-up without them. My friend came up to me and said, “I know you can do chin-ups unassisted.” I told her that I hadn’t done unassisted chin-ups since high school, and I couldn’t do them now. She egged me on, challenging me to do just one. By now a crowd was gathering, and I felt huge peer pressure to try to do one chin-up. I walked over to the machine without counterweights and with my friends watching, nervously jumped up six inches and grabbed the chin-up bar. To my surprise, I was able to do two!

I never used a counterweight machine again. Over the subsequent three months, I pushed hard and worked my way up to three sets of 10 unassisted chin-ups. I learned a valuable lesson from my friend – you are only limited by your own self-perceived limitations. Thank you, Patti Morris!

Sometimes it takes a friend, colleague, coach or mentor to inspire you to the next level. When you move to that next level, you never look back – you only move forward. As leaders, our job is to inspire others around us – to help them move to that next level.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin, the author of “The Icarus Deception,” writes about the character in Greek mythology who flies too high and too close to the sun. His wings melt off and he crashes into the sea.

Godin writes:

“It is far more dangerous to fly too low than too high, even though it might feel safer to fly low. You settle for low expectations and small dreams, and guarantee yourself less than what you are capable of. By flying too low, you also shortchange not only yourself, but also those who depend on you, or might benefit from your work.”

During your career, be sure you don’t fly too low. Take risks and fly high, and if you crash, you will pick yourself up and fly again.

Your attitude, which is apparent to everyone you interface with, plays a significant role in your success. Be a person who sees a world of abundance and possibilities, not one who sees a world of limitations and scarcity. Push through self-perceived limitations. You never know what the future holds or where it will take you.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s). Core Compass’s Terms Of Use applies.

About the author

Stan Silverman is a speaker, writer and advisor who focuses on helping businesses and organizations cultivate leadership cultures. He currently is a Leadership Catalyst for Tier 1 Group, a firm of strategists and advisors for preeminent growth. Stan is also Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Drexel University, a lead director on the board of Drummond Scientific and and serves on the board of Ben Franklin Technology Partners. He is the former president and CEO of PQ Corporation. Stan can be reached by email or at his website:

self-perceived limitations
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