I recently addressed a large audience of women at the annual NAPW conference in New York City. I asked them to raise their hands if they considered themselves to be ambitious. Most everyone raised their hands with much enthusiasm. I then asked them to keep their hands up if they were ready to take action for their ambition. All the hands stayed up.

That was a great response but in reality how many of us truly believe that our ambition will be rewarded and recognized? How many of us believe we are worthy of this recognition and most importantly, how many of us will take positive action to realize our goals? The truth is that the negative preconceived perceptions we have about our ability to succeed will sabotage our success. And these deeply held beliefs we have about not being good enough will continue to work against our success no matter how ambitious we say we are.

These belief systems are formed early in our development. Brain science teaches us that if we believe we are unworthy, we will continuously look for situations to validate that this is so. What this means is that on a conscious level, we look for opportunities to advance our careers, but on an unconscious level we seek to validate our unworthiness. This unconscious pursuit will undermine our promotion efforts unless we are aware of our limiting beliefs in this area.

According to Dr. Jacqui Grey, author of Executive Advantage,

“We look for evidence to validate our existing beliefs, and the filters ensure that is all we see. These form patterns which our brains recognize, sometimes erroneously because our brains are recognition machines: they will take the best pattern match rather than look for contrary evidence.”

This is tricky, isn’t it? How do we counter this unconscious sabotaging behavior?

Dr. Grey states,

“Executives can substantially improve their promotion prospects just by looking for evidence that confirms their capabilities rather than their flaws.”

Keeping a success journal can help you to disregard your preconceived perceptions and build new neural pathways to support more positive beliefs.

To help you figure this out, ask yourself these questions:

Am I ambitious?

Do my actions support my ambition?

If not, what is really getting in the way?

Perhaps your self-doubt is the answer. Perhaps you truly don’t believe you are worthy of success. Understanding what possible limiting beliefs you may have and how they are keeping you from reaching your goals is critical to taking positive action to support your ambition.