I have a tendency to yell at my friends. I know this is not ideal. But, I confess, it’s true. Typically this happens when I can see how amazing and talented they are – but they won’t believe me. Worse, they simply don’t believe in themselves, in their own capacity to kick their own goals or follow their dreams. It drives me totally bonkers.

I end up yelling: “But can’t you see how amazing you are?” “Can’t you understand that people will definitely buy from you/hire you/download your app? You just need to get out there and tell people you exist!”

I know that I shouldn’t yell at them. But after months – sometimes even years – of gentle encouragement, they still can’t see how talented they are, or how truly viable their business really is.

This is what I hear:

“I feel like a fraud.”

“I don’t think I’m good enough.”

“Why would anyone hire me? I don’t have the credentials.”

The reality is that they DO have the credentials, skills and talents to achieve their goals. And the only person they need to convince … is themselves. And nothing that anyone else can say will change their minds. These people are APSTOS.

You’ve heard of YUPPIES (Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals), DINKS (Dual Income No Kids), and even LOMBARDS (Loads Of Money But A Right D**khead).

Well, there is a new breed in town: APSTOS (Amazing People who Sabotage Their Own Success). You might know a few. You might even be one yourself.

See if you can recognise the characteristics of a typical APSTOS:

1. APSTOS continually go on courses to avoid implementing what they’ve learnt.

Hey, I’m all for courses. My entire business runs on them. I’m a huge fan of learning and I want to acquire new skills for the rest of my life. But there comes a time when you may need to take a break from enrolling in courses – and start implementing. If you’re implementing while you learn, that’s great. Then do all the courses you want!

But if you’re using the course as an excuse and to launch into your goals, convincing yourself that you just need to learn a bit more before you can give it a go, then you are simply procrastinating. Recognise what you’re doing and stop sabotaging your own success by putting unnecessary hurdles in your own way.

2. APSTOS say they’re “just not good at marketing”

There are some amazingly talented people who do know that they have real skill. They know they’re just as good – if not better – than successful people in their field. But they don’t have clients. They don’t get gigs. Their talent is only seen by themselves and their close friends. And they chalk it up to: “I’m just not good at marketing. I just want to focus on my creative work and let someone else do the marketing.”

Well, wake up and smell the 21st century. Gone are the days when you needed a rich patron (like a king or socialite) to fund your creative genius. These days, you need to carve out your own destiny, build your own platform and stop waiting to be discovered. If you’re “not good at marketing”, then either get good at it or resign yourself to the fact that the world isn’t magically going to discover you and shoot you to stardom. You need to be proactive about achieving success.

I realise that there are many people who will then say to me: “Oh but my idea of success is simply to have the ability to do my creative work. As long as I’m making enough money to get by, I’m okay with that. I don’t need to be famous.” Well, that’s fine. And I’m a passionate believer that we each need to pursue our own versions of success. But be truthful with yourself.

If that’s the case, then don’t complain to your friends that less talented peers are getting jobs that should be going to you. Don’t bemoan the fact that “the industry is changing” and you’re not getting the number of jobs you used to. If you’re dissatisfied with your lot, do something about it.

3. APSTOS are always searching for the magic bullet

Let’s get this straight. There isn’t one.

APSTOS think that if they can just be mentored by the right person, they’ll make it. Or they just need to find an angel investor – and all their problems will be solved. Or they just need to get X or Y, and it will be the answer to all the problems. Often, APSTOS think that investing tons of money with a high profile coach or a really expensive software program will suddenly fast-track their success. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in these things. I’m saying that you shouldn’t bank on these strategies as being the answer to all your prayers. They’re just one tool in your arsenal.

The reality is that the single most effective thing you could probably do to break through your success barrier is possibly the thing that you loathe the most.

I know. Sucks, right? But it’s often true.

If you hate sales and marketing, it’s learning how to embrace it. If your business is highly disorganised because you hate documenting systems, it’s probably that. If you can’t stand the thought of public speaking but know that it would make a huge difference to your business and your profile if you did more of it, then that’s your answer.

Sure, you can outsource some of these things. You might convince yourself that you’re delegating, but in many cases you’re actually abdicating responsibility. Push yourself out of your comfort zone because this may be the very thing that you need to do in order to get to the next level.

We can ALL suffer from the above symptoms from time to time. That’s normal. But if someone has been experiencing the above for many months (or years), they might be an APSTOS.

Fortunately, there is hope for the APSTOS. Success isn’t going to elude them forever. I’ve seen some die-hard APSTOS make amazing breakthroughs and come to understand that they can achieve their goals – and beyond. If you recognise some APSTOS qualities in yourself, try these two strategies:

1. Pick one thing and stick with it. The trouble is that many APSTOS have their fingers in many pies – there’s that new software program, that bright shiny object, that new group coaching course. They are spread so then that there is simply no time to do any of these things effectively. Even though they know they should pick one thing and stick with it, they suffer from paralysis by analysis and spend way too much time trying to decide which avenue to focus on. Stop analysing, simply pick one thing (flip a coin if you need to), and stick with it.

2. Get thee to a psychologist. Ultimately, many APSTOS are dealing with self-esteem issues. Fundamentally, they don’t believe in themselves and that’s why they sabotage their own success. It might be useful to consider booking in with a psychologist or somebody who is a specialist in self-esteem issues to help you with this. Your friends can only do so much. They can support and encourage you, but it is unlikely that they are equipped to help you on a profound level with your self-esteem.

Ultimately, there is great hope for the APSTOS, because they are usually so very talented. And once they are prepared to let that talent shine – once they can really believe in themselves and what they can achieve – the possibilities are endless.