Some people make a conscious decision to be helpless. They try something and fail, and they wrongly conclude that they are unable to do whatever it is that they tried. They decide they don’t have the ability or the skills, and so, they stop trying.

Some people don’t like to do things that make them uncomfortable, either physically or emotionally, so they confess to being inadequate for the task and ask someone else to do it for them. They decide they don’t have the power to achieve the outcome they need. They find an enabler.

By believing they are helpless or behaving like they are, these people learn to be helpless.


To unlearn your learned helplessness, you have to accept that you are not at all helpless. You can learn to do most things, if you believe that you can learn. The belief that you can do something goes a long way towards making it so.

Maybe you believed you will never be good at cold calling. Maybe you believed you could never win a major, big deal, dream client like a top 20-percenter. Your cold calling will start to improve when you believe that you can learn to be good at it, and you will make progress towards winning your dream client only when you believe that you can.

You start by believing that you aren’t helpless, and that you are instead powerful.

Try, Try Again

I don’t believe The Secret. Thinking and believing something isn’t enough to bring it into reality. In fact, that’s a recipe for a life of disappointment. To achieve any outcome you desire, you have to take action. The bigger the outcome, the more massive the action.

You tried and failed in the past? Try again (and again, and again).

It makes you uncomfortable to do something? Keep doing it. The very act of repeatedly doing something that makes you uncomfortable not only helps you to perform that task better, it also makes it a lot less emotionally trying.

It’s not that you can’t do something; it’s often that you simply haven’t taken enough action.

Make a Study of It

You may have for which you have learned helplessness around some tasks that are difficult. Believing isn’t enough, and taking action isn’t easy. Instead of learning to be helpless, you can, with effort, learn to be powerfully competent.

Instead of determining that you can’t do something or finding an enabler to do the difficult task for you, make a study of it. Read books. Read journals. Go to seminars. Attend webinars. Time to devoted to understanding what is known, to learn the general rule sets, to learn what the masters know, can help you to develop competency faster than you ever imagined.


What have you given up trying to do?

Is there something that you should be able to do around which you have learned to be helpless?

What beliefs underlie learned helplessness? What beliefs empower you?

Why isn’t belief itself enough? Why is action necessary to gain any real competency?

What prevents some from learning what others can do?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on July 29, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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