acheiving success


Growth  |  5 min read

How to Banish Your 'Inner Thief' and Elevate Success

Created with Sketch.

Ellis Friedman

Even professional athletes experience intense self-doubt and fear. Take Joe Courtney’s word for it. 

His book, Life Above & Beyond the Rim, might detail a lot of his time playing professional basketball for the NBA, but it’s not specifically about him or basketball.

Instead, he dives into the principles he used to break through barriers and achieve success professionally and personally. As an entrepreneur himself, Courtney has a visceral understanding of how our doubts and fears can get in the way of our own successes.  

The cat burglar within

What gets in our way is what Courtney calls the "inner thief." Your thief might be doubt, fear, a feeling of inadequacy or a myriad of other negative emotions, and you might not even realize it. Here’s what Courtney wrote about his thief epiphany:

I became a workaholic who never relaxed enough to enjoy the simple things in life … My wife told me so many times, “Joe, just relax and let it go,” but I would work through countless holidays. I was building my construction company, positioning it to be one of the top companies not only in my area but in the whole United States. I wanted to grow and make more money, so I worked seven days a week, and contractors were at my door 24/7. [My wife] Lee stopped me one day. “Joe, why are you working so hard? I know you said you’re doing this for us, but what good is all the money if we don’t have you? We just want you.”

I realized then that my thief was out of control. I had a big house, multiple properties, nice cars, a thriving business, and a beautiful wife and child, but inside, I battled a constant feeling of being unfulfilled. I was driving for success to prove my father wrong. I hadn’t been allowing myself to enjoy the fruits of my labor, which left a void, a feeling of unfulfillment.

Does this sound familiar? That might as well be called Entrepreneur Syndrome. Sure, some of that feeling is a drive and competitive nature to be the best. But when you find that you’re unfulfilled—or worse, you’ve become self-destructive, either by neglecting your health or your loved ones—you’re living contrary to the reason you pursued your dream in the first place. 

Expose your thief

It’s gritty work to dig inside yourself and expose your deepest thieves, but it’s also the only way to move from being a victim of that thief to taking ownership of your life. 

Courtney provides five ways to expose your thief within; they include identifying your strengths, then exposing the potentially painful reasons why they became your strengths. For example, maybe you’re eager to help everyone; this may be because you were bullied in the past and thus have a strong desire to be a people-pleaser.

But it’s important to learn how to distinguish between a thief and your instinct. Instinct is an important and positive protective device; a thief manipulates by putting you on the defensive and making you overcompensate for negative events.

Reclaim control and power

It’s easy to fall so deep into a rut of unhappiness that you don’t even realize you’re unhappy. It’s often not until you start to come out the other side that you realize how unhappy you were. Negativity is an influence so all-consuming that you truly forget there is a better way to live. There are many clear indications that a person might be a victim to their inner thief, and they include procrastination, argumentativeness, negativity and a tendency to surrender quickly. 

Reclaiming yourself (because really, thieves steal the essence of who you are) is work, but it’s doable. Courtney recommends these (and a few more) methods to control the inner thief: 

  • Acknowledge your thief exists.
  • Write down everything you’re thankful for.
  • Declare and define a new vision of your life.
  • Eliminate negative words like can’t, won’t and hate and replace them with can, will and love.
  • Choose to be proactive and take control now. When you start thinking negative thoughts, take a positive action to combat them. If you think you can’t do something, act immediately and give it your best.

The important thing to remember is that you choose your life. That might sound obvious or like a big burden, but at its core it’s empowering. You can choose to liberate yourself from your inner thief and change the direction of your life.


Sections of Life Above & Beyond the Rim reprinted with permission.

*Full disclosure: Courtney is an Infusionsoft by Keap client .

Was this post helpful?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox, gratis.

Before you go...

Get fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

What you'll get from it:

As a thank you for subscribing, we'll send you a copy of our 2019 Small Business Marketing Trends Report with insights from over 1,000 surveyed business owners. The gifts just keep on coming.

4 Reasons to Subscribe:
  • Weekly tips to dominate sales and marketing

  • Expert small business resources that cost you zero dollars

  • We're focused 100 percent on small business success

  • Righteous GIFs

    GIF of Ferris Bueler principal's assistant

P.S. We'll never give out your information. We'll only use it to send you awesome content and resources, if you're cool with that.

Why the name change?

Infusionsoft is now Keap. Why? Because it takes perseverance to grow a successful small business, and we’re here to help.

Our mission remains the same: To simplify growth for millions of small businesses worldwide.

As Keap, we now offer a family of products designed to help small businesses no matter what stage they’re in.

We created Keap, the all-in-one CRM, sales and marketing platform for growing service businesses, because most small businesses need to start simple and grow over time.

Our top-tier product, Infusionsoft, is for small businesses with more advanced sales and marketing automation needs.

So whether you want to start simple or you’re ready for our most advanced edition, we offer a Keap product that will help you get organized, deliver great service, and grow your business.

Keep going. Keep serving. Keep growing.

See demo