Spanx Founder Tells Us What Stops Our Success



#GrowYourLife  #BuildYourBusiness

Life Area: Personal  
Topic: Negative Self-Talk

Spanx Founder Tells Us the No. 1 Reason Stopping Our Success


Sara Blakely is known for her revolutionary shapewear product “Spanx” released in 1998. Since then, Spanx has solved the wardrobe woes of women around the world by designing bras, underwear, leggings, and other intimate apparel in a way that has changed the way women feel about their bodies. In the process, Sara became a self-made billionaire.

Sara Blakely’s success lesson.


In a recent interview, the wildly-successful Blakely admitted that she still struggles with doubt and fear. She told her interviewer the one thing she felt was holding back thousands of us from realizing our full potential was our negative self-talk.


Our negative self-talk is the No.1 barrier to success.”

– Spanx founder, Sara Blakely


Who can’t relate to that? We all have, at one time or another, been held back by the lies we allow to infiltrate our own heads: you’re not good enough, rich enough, talented enough, pretty enough, so on and so forth.


Jack Canfield provides us with this illustrative of the Self-talk Loop. Read more up on it in one of my past blog posts: 5 Ways of Turning Your Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk [here].

self-talk loop








I admire Blakely’s authenticity and the wisdom she imparted. She states she has been able to manage her negative self-talk over the years by continuing to do the emotional work most people neglect to overcome their own doubts and fears.


Negative self-talk is a very real thing–and a very self-limiting thing holding people back. In a 2005 National Science Foundation study, researchers found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. The alarming part? Eighty percent of those thoughts are negative and fear-based!


If you’re struggling with your own demoralizing inner critic, here are three crucial things to help you manage the negative self-talk and overcome your fears.


1. Gain perspective into your situation.

Often, due to failure and rejection, people develop a warped sense of reality where they can’t separate fact from fantasy. When making the entrepreneurial journey or climbing the corporate ladder, failure is a sure thing–you can bank on it.


But when you step back and gain perspective into your situation, you can realize that life will go on and you’re not going to die a horrible death if you get rejected or miss out on an opportunity.


The worst-case-scenario that feeds into our fear or the negative drama we play out in our heads is merely that … drama. Lose the script, put the past in the past, and detach any previous negative outcome from your current reality. Once you start with a clean slate and see possibilities again with renewed insight, you’ll realize that your negative self-talk no longer has any power over you.

2. Hack your brain to overcome fear.

Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success magazine and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and The Entrepreneur Roller Coastersays that no matter how much we’re warned and how skilled we are, fear is the ONE thing that can crush us and stop us from realizing our dreams. He suggests three ways to train your brain to overcome our fear:


  • Accept that fear is not a threat: President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously quipped, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” After you pull off an impossible feat that had you paralyzed with fear for days, training your brain to accept that there’s no threat involved will help you to switch off the fear response when the next important event happens. Ironically, in the midst of this global pandemic we’re experiencing, there is both the pandemic of the virus and the pandemic of fear in the public.
  • Force 20 seconds of courage on yourself: Hardy says, “Think of everything you could accomplish if you forced 20 seconds of bravery on your primitive mind just three times a day. Imagine how doing so would multiply your success, lifestyle, and prominence in the marketplace. Think of the breakthroughs you could create.”
  • Habituate yourself to fear: When you figure out the thing that you fear, it’s usually the most important thing that you need to make your business successful. By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, it loses its power and control over you. Hardy recommends submerging yourself in your fear for 90 days. In other words, have relentless contact with the activity or activities that you fear, and by the end of 90 days, says Hardy, you’ll no longer fear it. That weakness now becomes a great strength.


3. Kill the negative self-talk by reframing.

I’m sure Sara Blakely would relate to this. Do you ever hear that voice inside your head tell you things like: “I can’t do this” or “This is never going to work”? How about, “I am nothing compared to ‘those’ people”?


While self-talk is normal, when it’s used to reinforce a false belief or irrational thought or idea, that’s when we get into trouble. So, what’s the solution? A useful little mental hack called “reframing.”


You begin by consciously identifying the type of inner dialogue you use daily. Next, take a mental note of the nasty little negative words or phrases you use often. Things like, I can’t, I don’t know how, this is impossible, I always get this wrong, etc.


Now, really pay attention to the times when you use them again. What are the triggers? Did you not get that expected client, salary raise, or promotion?


As you notice yourself saying something negative and totally untrue in your mind, you can stop your thought midstream by saying out loud to yourself, “Stop!” This technique helps you become more aware of when and how many times you are curbing negative thoughts.


Finally, dig deep down inside yourself and rethink your assumptions. Perhaps an event you perceive as negative isn’t all that bad. So stop, rethink, and see if you can come up with a neutral or positive replacement.


The beauty of reframing means you’re challenging those negative thoughts and generalizations – the voices in your head that try to derail you from the path that will lead you to your eventual success.


We all struggle with negative self-talk on occasion. If you want to learn about how you can squash it, click [here] to read my blog post on turning negative self-talk into positive self-talk.


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I am a Success Strategist and Master Coach. I provide transformational coaching and training for individuals and organizations to help you Grow Your Life and Build Your Business by getting clear and focused on what you want, why you want it, and how to create it. Learn more about me at

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