What’s the most limiting belief instilled into you as a child that you’ve struggled to break free from as an adult?

Mine was to be polite/ well mannered to the point of being submissive and to self-deprecate/ rationalise every single acheivement, as to do otherwise was 'big-headed' & 'egotistical'.

Comments (81)

  • Analyst 3+ in CB
Oct 1, 2019

Ditto. My family took it a step further and associated striving for excellence in general with amorality. Fun stuff to unwind!

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Oct 1, 2019

How did you unwind that?

Oct 1, 2019

Short answer is I'm working on it.

Long answer, personally reconciling with my self destructive habits was simple. All it took was deciding to be mindful of the positive ways a few ambitious people have impacted my life.

Professionally? It's been a hot disaster because I continually underachieved I'm in a role that's less than challenging. I feel like I'm super far behind and constantly pushing down resentment for my upbringing. I try my best to not let those feelings affect my decisions on the job but it's difficult to stay positive.

For context, my mother was a teacher
who didn't believe in separating students out by perceived ability. When I was in middle school I begged her to put me in a better school, mine was failing, and she refused. As a school employee she could register me anywhere she wanted. I get where she was coming from sort of, but after that I wasn't really the same. Felt like a political prop in a way. Especially when she let my brother go to the school I asked about because he "needed more help". Lots of other little stuff too but that's the big stand out incident.

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Oct 1, 2019

I was always taught that rules are for the guidance of the wise and obedience of fools. This is not really limiting but has made sticking inside corporate culture difficult. Actually every job (including my first job at Starbucks) I've had a disdain for rules.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

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Oct 2, 2019

Agree 100%

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Oct 2, 2019

One of my favorite lines (my dad took this from someone in SWAT, real unit not the movie)-

SWAT Guy:

If you are fucked, unfuck yourself.

Best advice ever. Whenever I find myself unhappy with a situation in my life, I figure out how to unfuck myself.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

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Oct 5, 2019

That's a good one. I've had the same experience (grew up being taught that same lesson, and have gotten into trouble sometimes as a result) and from that experience I've sort of developed a corollary: the most ethical people are often the ones constantly getting in trouble in minor ways and getting slaps on the wrist over and over.

I did a couple years in an asset management shop where the common belief was, if you're called into the Chief Compliance Officer's office even once you might be fired, and certainly if you're called in there twice. Nobody working at that place had made more than a trip through that door, and I saw a good handful go in for the first time and came out fired.

Except me. In four years there, I was called in there more than 10 times. My best guess is 15 but I lost count after a while. And I didn't keep getting a pass because my performance was anything special either. Its because my crimes were so small. Missing some procedural step on trade approvals, stepping slightly over a trade limit because I used a stale rate, etc. After a while it became a running joke with the CCO like "one of these days you'll break a real rule" but that day never came.

Long story short, I've had a roughly similar history at other jobs and in school. Never once in big trouble, but always going 60 in a 55.

And my theory is, when you're raised to be a good person, you never have to pay attention to the rules growing up. You get by just fine on common sense and decency alone. But then you get into the corporate world and its like WTF, where are all these rules coming from.

But oddly, some people seem to be really good at following those rules 100%. Gotta wonder where that came from. My guess is those are actually the ones you can't trust. They never really got the memo to just be normal and decent so they're always following the handbook to figure out how to act.

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Oct 6, 2019

Very well articulated, SB for you. Glad to hear that I am not as odd and weird as I've thought I am. I noticed that I look out for others and don't do anything that would be unethical, but a lot of things against the protocols and rules. I think one of my least favorite lines that brings me pain is, "But that's the way we've always done it." It genuinely upsets me to hear that.

Love the analogy of going 60 in a 55. Even going 70 in a 55 and paying attention when there's no traffic, it's still far less dangerous than completely zoning out and going with the flow of traffic.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Oct 1, 2019

A good friend of mine was brought up to believe a person's word was his only honour - around our graduation, he received a MM IB offer and accepted it only to get a GS IB role soon after. Incredibly, he chose not to rescind his acceptance after wrestling with it for a while and go for the MM IB.

This was years ago. He's been trying to transition to UMM PE / better firms since, but understandably its an uphill battle. Not a day goes by without him regretting that decision. Some upbringing can really mess up a person

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Oct 1, 2019

Appealing to prestige alone ... the classic argument. He could have gone to GS and struggled, or struggled with recruiting or standing out in that firm, and had that fuck up his career. If he couldn't recruit successfully at the MM who is to say he would have done better at GS?

It's amazing that it still impacts him, that's kind of a loser's mentality. You suffer setbacks and sub-optimal results all the time in life, and you need to adapt. Plenty of MM IB people kick ass in life, have a great career, family, etc. It's ridiculous to point back at your first (very excellent) job as some moment that messed upyour life.

It's like the butterfly effect. Going to GS could have changed the rest of his life in many ways, some good, some not so good. Regardless, you play the game for the long run. Sometimes you get fucked for being honorable but building trust over the long run and doing good work will result in succeeding in the right way, if that matters. #intheenditdoesn'treallymatter

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Oct 2, 2019

Hey kid, this thread is about the limiting beliefs that held one back. The example I shared had a key message: prioritize your own development and go for the best opportunities even when you have to make difficult choices / renege if its worth it - the idea here is that others who find themselves in the same positions will make the right choice.

Instead, you go off on a tangent and create a non-issue about prestige, with your argument that many in MM do well. No shit dude - but what has that got to do with the case at hand which revolves around making the right move? Unless your argument is that in this case, the said friend should have still gone ahead with MM instead of a BB and you have a valid point to make, take your unsolicited tangential opinion elsewhere.

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Oct 5, 2019

Ahh, the classic sour grapes argument. Was waiting for this to come around. GS was clearly the better offer, he should have went there.

He made a silly mistake and he should move forward. See? Now we can reach the same conclusion you reached without the same logical acrobatics you had to walk us through.

love,

django the rat

Most Helpful
Oct 1, 2019

Going to college and getting a good job as a doctor/lawyer or whatever is the way to get rich. Not enough value placed in my family on entrepreneurship/sales and I think it's made me more risk averse than I'd like to be.

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Oct 2, 2019

Well your username doesn't seem to check off tho

Array

Funniest
Oct 2, 2019

I'm getting some mixed signals as to whether or not @BobTheBaker burns.

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    • 1
Oct 2, 2019

Have a feeling this may be a highly underrated comment

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Oct 7, 2019
Synergy_or_Syzygy:

I'm getting some mixed signals as to whether or not @BobTheBaker burns.

Nah bruv, I'm definitely rolling one up when I leave the office tonight.

Oct 18, 2019

His profile pic is a flatbush zombies album cover if that helps

Oct 2, 2019

This, combined with the emotional battering over mistakes and the pointless perfectionism for school.

Utterly detrimental. I'm also working on not resenting them for it.

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Oct 1, 2019

I grew up poor. That really haunted me and made me extremely risk averse. But, to be successful, you need to take risks -- sometimes, you need to be a bit reckless even. I've missed out on a lot of opportunities in all aspects of life by choosing the safe and secure options because I couldn't get passed that mental hurdle.

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Oct 3, 2019

Yup, that's the major issue with growing up poor. You play safe because you don't have a safety net, every faiure hurts. Unfortunately to get ahead you have to try and that requires failing a lot.

Oct 6, 2019

Can't say I grew up poor exactly, but definitely with some financial strife that I allowed to define me. Led to way too many risk-averse decisions and only 10 years out of college was I comfortable turning the tide the other way (taking a riskier job with more upside).

Still trying to figure out how to best advise high school and college kids who are in the same situation. Currently I tell them, it's too hard to just psych yourself into a more risk-chasing mindset. What's more realistic is to understand that you only need to save a little before you take bigger chances. Figure out a really cheap annual budget (desiring the trappings of upper middle class life is another mistake poverty teaches) and save 1-2x that small number, and then its time to chase some dreams.

Oct 14, 2019

waouh sorry to hear that. but, the fear of losing everything is on each of us.

Oct 1, 2019

I spent a lot of time by myself when I was young, because my parents split up. I think it taught me to be really self-centered and to have a serious survival instinct where I can't empathize with anyone and only look out for myself. I used to think it made me stronger, or more successful, but I have ruined a lot of relationships and almost gotten into trouble several times just because I don't have a conscience and won't think twice about fucking someone over.

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Oct 3, 2019

My parents did not seperate but I still ended up being there. Fun fact I still am there and sometimes feel bad but eeeh. Once you have felt the clouds you ain't going back (period)

Oct 14, 2019

me too. Expect the fucking over pole part. I am really empathic and detached. My mother is a single mom and raised my older brother and I. My brother is 7 years older, I was the baby, the princess, and spoiled a lot. It makes it difficult to relate to other people and create relationships. I felt like I was already in a relationship with my mother. So any form of attachement, care just tire me out.

  • Analyst 1 in CB
Oct 1, 2019

Funny, I was just thinking about this while watching Suits. If you're wondering, it has to do with how Louis' therapist always seems to figure things out for him. I wonder if its this easy in real life?

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Oct 2, 2019

The belief that you carry your family's genes and the upbringing they gave you onwards, not just the good stuff but the flaws too. It's been hard shrugging that off and making myself believe that I can do better than my parents, but also keep the best of them

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Oct 2, 2019

Seems as if you come from old money?

Array

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Oct 3, 2019

On my mom's side. Got my brains but also a really awful temper from that side. My dad grew up on a farm. Got my charm from him but also lowkey alcoholism

Oct 2, 2019

That I'm nothing unless I work for Goldman Sachs

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Oct 2, 2019

My adoptive mom hammered the belief that all the problems around me are my fault but she is the only one who can fix them. Basically, that I couldn't succeed or survive without her.

I had to understand that I'm only responsible for my own actions. I can choose to make things worse or better, and no one can choose that for me. In fact, she would fuck things up worse if left to her own devices.

Oh, and also the belief that rich people are bad people.

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Oct 2, 2019

My mother telling me that nothing was possible without god or that I couldn't accomplish anything without god or giving him credit. It created a lingering fear that I would lose everything if I ever turned away.

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    • 1
Oct 2, 2019

Ditto....stopped going to church as a result to see if God would hate me.
So far so good...no lightning strikes yet.

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Oct 3, 2019

Now my faith is non existent I feel no need at all to put belief into anything besides myself lol.

    • 1
Oct 3, 2019

Of all you chose Gunderson.

Oct 2, 2019

That there is a group of people somewhere out there that know what they are doing who will prevent all of humanity from going to shit.

The older I get the more I realize that people I once thought could do know wrong / were in charge of what ever I was involved with are just other humans who are not in fact infallible.

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Oct 3, 2019
bobbybonilla:

.... people I once thought could do know wrong....

*no

Oct 3, 2019

The most limiting belief you can have is that your family is correct on most things.

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Oct 3, 2019

Agreed. Also, it doesn't help that most people are incapable of judging their family members & in-groups objectively.

    • 1
Oct 3, 2019

Effort is uncool.

Until trying hard at video games was cool when I was in high school, my friends were all competing on who put in the least effort and cared the least on most things. Trying at anything was to be mocked and ridiculed.

I'm glad I was able to escape and gain perspectives into lower level employees that most mgmt lacks, but sometimes I wonder where I'd be if I studied in class or tried to win at sports.

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Oct 5, 2019

Some employees in my office are like this and make jokes about not working. Work distribution is uneven and so sometimes they work hard and other times they just chill and talk shit about management and coworkers.

Not saying they are right or wrong. Hell, id take the opportunity to chill at work minus the badmouthing.

Don't quit!
Oct 5, 2019

My mom instilled in me that I was really antisocial like her. Turns out I really like people and am very social, but I have a really high bar for friends. I'll eat lunch with random people and talk to them even, why not? Helps tremendously with networking. My mom's just a shitty person and wants to believe I'm like her for some form of social proof in her mind I guess.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Oct 5, 2019

That one should remain a virgin until marriage

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Oct 14, 2019

how did that go.

Oct 21, 2019
Marcelle-Ines:

how did that go.

Probably found that that sex is pretty cool

Oct 7, 2019

My experience is similar to what others have said above. Growing up risk adverse and to be as polite/humble as possible to come off less abrasive to others.

Coming from an asian family that immigrated over in their early adult life I struggle with a few qualities passed down by either tradition or were key for them to make a new life here. Being respectful of your seniors and not causing any sort of disagreement to their ways of doing things being the main quality I am trying to undo. In a professional setting, being completely agreeable seems to make you appear like you don't show enough care in your work and can't think critically.

From what I've seen it's always the younger folks having opinions and unafraid to make waves that can find success earlier.

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Oct 8, 2019

How interesting. A lot of my Asian (in the UK that means Indian) friends tell me the same of being brought up to respect seniors and tradition before them to the point of being submissive and subordinate. Perhaps it is an Eastern cultural thing?

In England we have this demoralising and demotivating phrase 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' which is essentially if you dare outgrow the herd of poppies by being too ambitious or confident or wealthy your own will cut you down to size. My parents and their friends are such experts at it they could write a book on it.

Oct 16, 2019

This happens with other cultures especially more "rural cultures." (as in not city fol) My folks are like this and are not asian. So frustrating.

Don't quit!
Oct 7, 2019

Good thread. Here's mine.

The fear of screwing up/making a mistake, which can also be related to the fear of disappointing other people.

It has made me almost scared to succeed and has certainly impacted not only my professional career (mostly in a minor way), but did (a long time back) academically, and athletically.

For example. I was not the most talented soccer (or football) player, by any means. We had a coach that always yelled at everyone in a negative way as in "that was stupid, why would you do that?". He meant no harm. His mantra was that it would motivate people to do better because they would want to prove coach wrong. And to some it did. But not to me (or many others).

I can't count the number of times I would win the ball back (I played in defense), get a pass, take a very quick look, and if I didn't see anyone wide open, just kick the ball up the field as far as possible (hopefully) in the direction of one of our strikers. No dribbling, not taking a pause, not taking a second look etc. As a result, there were times I dreaded playing and dreaded getting the ball. Rather than try to make a play/pass that would give us a better chance to score a goal or prevent the other team from getting it back, I would just boot it up and the other team would usually get the ball back. But I wouldn't get yelled at, so yay!

Generally, I have observed that that people want you to succeed, or don't care. The few that want you to screw up? F-them. They will always exist.

This is why, in general, I try to be more positive and hopefully encouraging to many/most on this board here, especially since most are younger than I am.

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Oct 15, 2019

Monogamy. I mean, what the fuck were we thinking, 'm I right? Rookie move, hate to see it.

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Oct 25, 2019
earthwalker7:

Monogamy. I mean, what the fuck were we thinking, 'm I right? Rookie move, hate to see it.

You read Sex At Dawn recently?

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/

Oct 15, 2019

One limiting thought process (not belief) was in how to deal with others - esp senior mgmt - in a workplace setting.
Early in my career I got feedback from HR in the ibank that I needed to spend more time schmoozing with the bank's C-level people (we were on a mgmt training program so had some pretty amazing access available, IF we reached out). I took it as a bit below me. I mean, our team is closing deals and crushing it, why do I need to ask the CEO out for a drink anyway? And why would he even dain to spend time with me, from his loft seat? Dumb, dumb, dumb move. In our bank, HR had a lot of say in terms of pay, and it would have helped to be seen as following HR's directions. And what would the harm have been in cultivating relationships w/ C-levels anyway? Doing your work well and bringing in $ is of course the key to the job, but it is a 'necessary but not sufficient' aspect - you still need to socialize and build up political capital if you're going to get a chunk of the financial rewards.

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Oct 15, 2019

Paid too much attention to my GPA in undergrad, and didn't take enough early-stage-career risks in my university. I went to a very competitive Ivy-league-like public university, with a big student body and a strictly enforced curve. I was so afraid of losing my scholarships, that I kept my GPA very high. I didn't take enough classes outside my major, didn't explore other career paths (should have taken some CS classes, etc.) Truth is, pretty much no one cares what your GPA is later in life, but the knowledge you can gain is key, and there is a far higher correlation with financial success with what major you pursued (and what technical skills you've acquired) than with which school you went to. And there's 0 or negative correlation with GPA. Fuck the grades, go to uni to learn something and explore different paths so you can find your own optimal path.

    • 1
Oct 16, 2019
  • Being polite to the point of becoming submissive/unable to step up against teachers/older people etc.
  • That Medicine is the holy grail to money and it's the only way to be rich/respected.
  • That finance is evil and immoral (they have no clue about what investment banks do, they still think traders screw poor people)

Don't get me wrong, I love my parents and ultimately they allowed me to study and pursue whatever field I was interested in (quant finance), but even though I did what I wanted to (studying maths & finance) and I am super happy with the things I learned and the way my education has shaped my thinking and me as a person, I still look forward my first paycheck to show them that I made it (and also to have the satisfaction to give them something back and buy them some present with my own money),

Oct 17, 2019
  • Becoming the stereotypical grey-faced F500 exec is the only way to go, preferably with a doctor title (thanks Dad)
  • Work is for idiots, intelligent people don't have to work for success
  • True love is a practical partnership, adventure and fun have no place in it (thanks Mom and Dad)
  • Never fight back, and never ever ever physical - good and intelligent people always yield

Got me messed up on so many damn levels tbh...

Omnia facit Voluntas - Will alone suceeds

Oct 18, 2019

None. I was a super latchkey kid. I received zero parenting. Never once been punished or grounded. Mom never told me what she wanted me to do, insinuated any kind of shit, or pushed me toward anything. Any interest I had, she'd vaguely encourage. 'Oh, that's cool. Go for it.' I got in trouble at school a lot. She'd always defend me. 'Goldie punched Tommy.' 'What did Tommy do to deserve it?' Even when I started getting in trouble with the law, she was concerned, but made no attempts to change my course. When I was like four, I set up a little tent in our apartment in Skokie and would do "science experiments" inside it. I'd mix any household shit I could find. These Xanax moms would flip a shit. My mom didn't give one. Bless her heart

I'm also grateful I grew up without a dad. I see so many men with daddy complexes - who went into their careers to "follow in their fathers' footsteps," who run to daddy when times get tough, who get a couple drinks in them and start bringing up their fathers' accomplishments. To me, it's pathetic. I was given complete freedom to make my own mistakes, do my own experiments, take my wins, take my lumps, and grow into a self-sufficient man. Shit feels good, dude. With that said, I have a kid on the way and I'm stoked to be a dad. I'm gonna be such a dope dad. My kid's gonna have a strenuous life though.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/

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Oct 18, 2019
Comment
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Oct 22, 2019
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"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Oct 26, 2019