Victim, Schmictim

5 tips to help you break free from your victim mentality
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the June 2000 issue of . Subscribe »

You've lost a major account, let an ideal prospect slip away or been chewed out by a client. When the going gets tough, you feel tempted to give up, blaming your situation on incompetent vendors, your upbringing or whatever. But resist! Playing the blame game leads to a victim mentality, keeping you from ever fulfilling your business dream.

The difference between successful entrepreneurs and wannabes is that entrepreneurs refuse to think of themselves as victims, no matter what obstacles they encounter. For example:

  • A victim grumbles "How could they screw me over like this?" An entrepreneur asks "What can I salvage or learn from this relationship?"
  • A victim views difficulty or resistance as a sign to give up. An entrepreneur believes that out of struggle comes greatness and new opportunities.
  • A victim lives out other people's priorities, too insecure to say "No." An entrepreneur takes charge of his own life, setting priorities and resolving to live them out.

If you find yourself thinking like a victim, don't get discouraged. The good news is, you have the power to change-if you commit to pursuing your dream.

Take, for example, John Harris, 34, founder and CEO of ViewSource Media Inc., a marketing communications firm in Cincinnati. It would be easy for Harris to think like a victim-he's confined to a wheelchair with a congenital bone disorder-but he refuses to allow his disability to get in the way. Instead, Harris is fulfilling his dream of running his own company. After three years, ViewSource Media generates over $1 million annually with 12 employees.

Harris offers five tips on how you can break free from a victim mentality to achieve your entrepreneurial goals:

1. Face obstacles head-on. "I knew early on that I'd have to spend a lot of time cultivating a professional reputation," says Harris. "Eventually, people didn't see me as a disabled person who works in the marketing business, but instead as a terrific marketing person who happens to be disabled. I found that as I demonstrated boldness, confidence and knowledge in my field, people began to see beyond my disability."

2. Focus on your strengths. "My disability doesn't affect my job performance at all because I have chosen a career where I can excel in a wheelchair," says Harris. "I wouldn't excel at tap dancing. Nor would I be good at repairing watches, not because of the chair, but because I don't have the talent for that work. You'd be surprised by how many people get frustrated with their lack of success in areas that aren't within their skill sets."

3. Expect and accept difficulty-it comes with the job. "If being an entrepreneur were easy, everyone would do it," Harris counsels. "Who hasn't dreamed of running their own show? But in reality, it's tough. I'm using skills I rarely used when I worked for someone else."

4. Choose role models. "Following the examples of people who have gone before you is reassuring and enlightening," says Harris. "I
subscribe to magazines for the disabled...these folks refuse to let their setbacks define them."

5. Look at the bright side."Sure, my disability means I can't drive to work on my own. But the commute gives me a chance to catch up," Harris shares. "My obstacles are just speed bumps on my road to success."

Sean M. Lyden ( is the principal and senior writer of The Professional Writing Firm Inc., a Kennesaw, Georgia, company that specializes in ghostwriting articles. Lyden writes frequently on motivation, management and marketing issues. What psychological obstacles to success are you trying to overcome? Tell us at

Contact Source

ViewSource Media Inc., (513) 671-6238,

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Starting, buying, or growing your small business shouldn’t be hard. Guidant Financial works to make financing easy for current and aspiring small business owners by providing custom funding solutions, financing education, and more.

Latest on Entrepreneur