Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saying 'I CAN'!

When I first started working as a full time tutor 10 years ago, I had many self limiting beliefs. Looking back now, it seems rather ridiculous that I had those beliefs, but I remembered that these beliefs were very real and very limiting to me at that point in time. Let me list down some of them:

1. No working during standard meal times

I thought that I'm normal and I should have a normal working hours. I assume that students will also have fixed meal times, so I didn't want to schedule my lessons around 12 to 130 pm and 6-8 pm. It was such a limiting idea, because it restricts the number of lessons, and hence working hours, that I can do. It took me about 2 years to fix this limiting belief. After that, I'm all set. I can have my dinner at 1030 pm, which is what happened yesterday night after my lessons. Or I can eat my lunch at 1030 am. Makes no difference to me, though I try not to eat my dinner late at night because it'll disrupt my sleep routine.

2. No work during public holidays and on weekends

Again, when I first started, I thought I should have a normal working hours with normal social life. This is one of the first self limiting belief that I discovered I had, and the first one to go. It just wouldn't do if I can't work on weekends and public holidays, as I know I wouldn't be able to clock enough hours to make a reasonable pay working as a full time tutor. These days, public holidays and weekends are my busiest, as it should be.

3. I can't teach what I didn't know

I used to reject assignments that I deemed are beyond me. I started teaching secondary school Emaths. Then someone asked me to teach them Amaths, so I was very reluctant to do so because I'm not confident. But confidence comes from preparation, and the fact that I can work harder and longer and do more than my tutee. It's a mind blowing principle. If you're not confident to teach, prepare harder than your students. They cannot know more than you do, otherwise you're not doing your job. So one thing leads to another, I'm soon teaching the entire spectrum of secondary school subjects, jumped to Primary school subjects, next to A'lvl, then IB, and after that it's poly engineering modules, followed by business statistics modules and then to university's statistics and financial modules.

If I had listened to my inner voice not to step outside my comfort zone, to only teach what I know, then I wouldn't have expanded the repertoire of what I can teach. I wouldn't be able to learn independently what I needed to do to teach someone.

4. I'm not worth the fees

I'm constantly upgrading my self worth. Funny isn't it? Sometimes I still think that people shouldn't pay me so much for tuition. I think my tuition fees is as high as my own self worth with regards to my career. I started off with $22/hr, and every other year I'll have to reason to myself whether I added value to others before I can increase it. There's a mental block inside me to ask for higher fees. And I realised not every tutor has this mental block. It's a confidence issue, I believe. Some undergraduate fresh from A'lvl charges even higher than what I charge as an experienced full time tutor. They can do it, but I can't. This is something that is still work in progress.

The very first step to remove self limiting beliefs is to identify them. It can be so pervasive and ingrained that you do not even think of it as a self limiting belief. It's the ability to hide among your consciousness that causes these beliefs to become your reality. Let's say you want to save money. Perhaps these are the self limiting beliefs that you have:

1. I don't earn enough money like the rest, so how do I save?

2. I'm not like the rest - I've a family and a lot more commitments, how can I compare with them?

3. I need my car (or coffee, or bags, or gadgets, or whatever other material things). Life's not worth living without it. What's the point of suffering so much to save?

4. YOLO (you only live once), might as well enjoy while we can.

Everyone of these is a self limiting beliefs. If you believe it enough, they will become a reality. If you don't question your basic assumptions about how you live your life, then how can you change it? Start by taking charge of your life. Be open to changes and just say YES first. There's enough naysayers around you who do a very good job of saying NO, so be the first to say YES to yourself. Give it a go...what's the worst that can happen?

At most just F.A.I.L. That's just a First Attempt In Learning.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...


If I didn't know better, someone is becoming a cheerleader ;)

And the first thing a cheerleader must do is to cheer themselves first.

Fly butterfly fly!

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

Indeed, I also have those self-limiting mindset:

I don't bring work back to mark.

I cannot work till late at night, the next day is gone anyway.

Now, just do la.

I can even walk and mark. LOL

only difference, my pay is fix no matter how hard i work, the returns is satisfaction or perhaps a lack of guilt

SMK said...

But these beliefs creep back, don't they?
You have to be constantly vigilant, don't you?

Gambatte! You can.

la papillion said...


Haha, you're perceptive :)

Feeling a little down and stressed over my work. This is really a motivation for me indeed. Sometimes, the nature of my job makes me see too much disappointments and rejections. It'll suck up my emotional reserve if I didn't 'de-allocate' the excess energy wisely.

Thanks for the cheering the cheerleader :)

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Haha, I think all of us have self limiting beliefs! Wah, marking while walking, can ah? But who am I to say no? I also walk and solve questions, walk and eat my dinner at the same time!

After a certain amt of pay, I think people no longer work for pay. It's always professional pride, genuine concern for students, or as you said, prevention of guilt...

Money is a strong motivator, but not that strong, haha

la papillion said...


Yes they do creep back! You're right, it's constant attention to them. But these kinds of things - once you noticed them, it's hard not to NOT notice them. So the attention is still alright.

I always need to remind myself I'm worth the fees though...some self confidence issues. I talked to some tutor friends about it. They said it's humble lol

seeker said...

Hey boss, you got 4 points right? I see 1, 2, 4 and 5.. point 3 is for subscribers only? ;)

la papillion said...

Hi Seeker,

Thks for proofreading for me! Changed!