8 Powerful Beliefs You Need to Adopt for an Extraordinary Career

Look around the internet and you won’t find a shortage of people teaching you how to nail the tactics of finding a job. Whether that’s fine tuning your resume or optimizing your LinkedIn profile – you can easily figure out the basics of a job application with a simple Google search. What you won’t find in that Google search, however, is the mindset strategies that top performers have. Because what top performers know is that it is your mindset, and beliefs, that actually lead to a meaningful, impactful, and fulfilling career. So if you really want to build an extraordinary career, forget the tactics and start adopting these powerful belief systems.

Millennial looking at at sunset thinking about his beliefs

Two years out of college, I found myself painfully searching through endless strategies to get myself out of a career rut. I was blindly applying for jobs, scouring the internet for the “right” things to do to get promoted, and doing anything I could to get out of my funk.

It wasn’t until I stopped searching through the list of “things to do” and started to adopt new belief systems that my results began to completely turn around.

You see, there is a big difference between what people want and what people need.

What I wanted was to know what resume format would get me a foot in the door and what keywords to put on my LinkedIn profile.

What I needed though (and what you need) was the right mindset and mental shifts to determine exactly what I actually wanted and how to achieve it.

If you want to start turning your career around (or heck, your life for that matter), here are the top 8 beliefs you need to adopt today to go from that mediocre job to an extraordinary career.

1. I love the struggle.

In your career, you will inevitably face challenges: some you’ll like, but most you’ll try to avoid at all costs. Why? Because they’re hard, frustrating, and there’s a chance (more like a guarantee) that you are going to fail.

It’s those exact challenges, those moments of frustration, however, that we learn the most. We don’t grow and expand when we are safely in our comfort zone. Like a muscle, we only grow when we are torn apart.

So if you’re only willing to do what is easy in your career, you’ll never have the career that you want.

Instead, you have to learn what Mark Mason, bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, calls “the value of suffering.”

If you and I are going to suffer through parts of our career (and if suffering is inevitable),  why would you suffer through it?

What I mean is, you don’t actually have to feel the intense pain that comes with doing something you don’t like. Instead, all you have to do is slightly change your perspective.

“If you want to change how you see your problems, you have to change what you value and/or how you measure failure/success.”

If suffering is what helps you grow, expand, and develop new ways of thinking, then you should put more value into it, you should learn to love to suffer.

As Sigmund Freud once said,

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”  

2. I am in control of my emotions.

Have you ever gotten so mad or so frustrated that you’re left fuming for hours? Every little thing begins to tick you off and then eventually, you forget why you were even mad in the first place.

This is how easily our emotions can get us off track if we let them control us.

In the career-minded, results-driven world we live in, emotional intelligence doesn’t seem to have a home. But it’s the key factor to thriving in the game.

Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and one of the forefront thought leaders on EQ (emotional quotient), teaches that:

“EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs. It’s the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.”

If you want to continue elevating your career, emotional intelligence is a must, not a should. I highly recommend purchasing his book and taking the free test inside. It will give you your EQ score as well as resources to help you improve your emotional intelligence.

3. I believe that less is more.

Picking just one career is not easy anymore because our options are exponentially limitless. And the longer you go without “picking a career”, the more susceptible you are to becoming overwhelmed, stressed out, and needlessly comparing yourselves to others.

You think that to get ahead at work (and in life) you need to be everything to everyone. It’s like running on a hamster wheel — you’re doing a lot of work but going nowhere.

Tim Ferriss is a huge advocate for minimizing your life and believes that

“being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

Described in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week we can still achieve all the results we want in life by doing less, not more. It’s not about being everything to everyone but being the right person to the right people.

Take a look at your schedule at what you are saying yes to and adopt this belief that less is more, and start saying no to things that aren’t getting you the results you want in your career.

For Example:

How would decreasing the time you spend in meaningless work and increasing your focus on your most important priorities improve the quality of your personal and professional worlds?

Begin today by ruthlessly cutting out at least one hour of busywork that is adding no real value to your life.

4. I never fail, I only run tests.

There is a huge culture out there right now preaching failure: Failure is a good thing…Fail your way forward…Get back on the horse…etc.

The problem with this is that it forces people to automatically think that all of their efforts are being wasted. If you build a business assuming it’s going to fail, why do it? If you go into an interview hoping to fail, what’s the point?

Instead, following the advice of Ramit Sehti who says that he never fails, he’s only testing. It’s a simple mindset that could radically change your results.

That interview wasn’t a failure, it was a test to see what worked and what didn’t.

That business wasn’t a failure, I was just testing out some ideas.

Once you shift your beliefs from failure to testing, you begin to improve your own internal feedback system, ultimately multiplying your ability to grow and learn.

5. Good is the enemy of great.

Everywhere I turn, I see great talent being wasted around me. Not to sound rude, but there are countless people with incredible potential, that have decided to follow the crowd. Their skills and potential are being sucked dry by conforming to the “normal” way of doing things.

Sure, I get it. It’s easy to conform to what everyone else is doing around us. It’s easier to fit in than swim upstream against the current. Jim Collins describes it perfectly in his bestselling book, Good to Great:

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

So if you want to have an extraordinary career, you need to always be pushing the boundaries. Never settle for a good job when an extraordinary career is just a reach away.

6. Hard work trumps passion.

Everyone wants to be passionate about the work they do, but not many are willing to work hard to get there.

I hear this common statement all the time from my coaching students:

“I just want to be passionate about what I am doing for work. If I could just find what I am passionate about, I would be happier.”

While finding work that you love is a core component of my programs, how you go about finding and building that work is often times confused with just being passionate.

The truth is, passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something, not before.

This is the premise for Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You (one of my favorite career leadership books).

In it, he preaches this philosophy:

“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).”

When you begin to focus on what YOU can offer the world, you begin to focus on those things that you can control, like working hard to learn a rare and valuable skill set.

Decide to adopt the mindset of working hard now so that you can reap the rewards later.

7. My strengths are bigger than my weaknesses.

One of my all-time favorite quotes (from my all-time favorite leader) is:

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” 

Everything John Wooden did as a UCLA basketball coach was geared to help his players maximize their potential, on and off the court.

He believed that everyone had unique talents and abilities, it was just a matter of tapping into those abilities and making sure they gave everything to living those out.

Regardless of the outcome of the game, he would always ask his players: “Did you do your best?”

If you don’t know what your best is, you need to start somewhere. I highly recommend taking the StrengthsFinder test and discover your top 5 strengths.

Focus 90% of your efforts on those and you’ll be in the top 1%.

8. My career is a marathon.

There is no question that our world is moving faster and faster every day. Competition is increasing and it can seem like there is never enough time to get ahead in the workplace.

If you decide to operate with this belief, however, you’ll be running a race that you’ll never win. The truth is that you can’t afford to worry about the sprint intervals that everyone else is running around you. You have to focus on the long game.

That’s exactly what Warren Buffett has done for 75+ years of his investing career, and it’s paid off handsomely.

Buffett has always operated with the principle that in the long term, the markets will always go up. Of course, if he could double his money overnight he would, but that’s ridiculous. Even the Oracle of Omaha doesn’t know that. So, he plays the long game. He knows his outcome in the long-term and focuses on that.

Your career lasts a lifetime, so you must develop the mindset that your career is a marathon and that success, just like the stock market over a long period of time, is inevitable.

As simple as it sounds, this can be the most powerful belief of them all.

If you believe in yourself in the long-term, winning will never be a question of if, but a question of when.

Turning Beliefs Into Habits

Now that you have a solid set of new beliefs, I recommend choosing one that you are willing to adopt today.

It’s not always easy to implement new beliefs though. It will take a certain level of commitment to turn that belief into a habit.

“Commitment is doing what you said you would, long after the mood you said it in has left.”

Write it down every day, keep it posted on your fridge, set alarm reminders on your phone — whatever it takes. You can even recite it as an affirmation, do an interpretive dance with some sage leaves burning, or whatever else you are into.

Because once that belief becomes a habit, you will start seeing the results flood in.

Then come back to this article and start with the next one.


What’s that one belief you are going to adopt today?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.