We all have beliefs – some have been passed on to us, some are learned, and many have been developed from our experiences.
Some beliefs can be traced to a specific experience.
For example, if you were once bitten by a dog, you might believe that dogs are dangerous and avoid them.
Other beliefs are less clear.
For example, you may have a preference to a particular pen reinforcing a belief that it brings you luck, causing high levels of stress if you can’t find it or lose it – will you ever be lucky again?
The majority of our beliefs are developed when we are young, with a very ‘immature’ brain and perspective on life.
What’s more, we are often ‘unconscious’ of our beliefs and therefore completely unaware of the impact they are having on us, our performance and our success.
Indeed, our beliefs influence our thoughts, feelings and actions and therefore our results.
As Henry Ford’s quote intimates, whatever it is you believe, you will prove it right, because your brain follows your instruction – that’s what it does – it serves you.
So what happens when those beliefs are not true?
In short, they drive the wrong thoughts, feelings and actions and ultimately, they sabotage your success.
In my opinion, the most impactful beliefs are those we have about ourselves and our abilities. Common self-beliefs I’ve witnessed time and again are:
- I’m not good enough
- I can’t do … (fill in the blank, Maths is a very common one I hear in schools!)
- I’ll never be able to … (fill in the blank)
Self-belief is an amazing source of power for us all and as leaders we can have an enormous impact on building self-belief in those we influence, through how we communicate and behave towards them as well as how we model it ourselves.
Consider how these common leadership styles impact self- belief (albeit unintentionally):
- The ‘micro-manager’ reinforces a belief in team members of “I’m not good enough’ (and actually all of the common beliefs mentioned above);
- The ‘over-praiser’ lessens the impact of praise which is a key foundation block for building the evidence to support self-belief;
- The ‘over-criticiser’ who finds fault in everything, lessens the impact of, and opportunity to learn from, constructive criticism. How we respond to failure is key to our self-belief;
- And so on.
As well as tempering the above traits, letting go and allowing others to ‘fail’, in a safe & supportive way, is a great technique for building self-belief. This is often particularly challenging for parents, whose role needs to evolve as children grow.
By example, you may recall how my daughter suffered with extreme anxiety last year exacerbated by the challenges of lockdown (article here). Unintentionally, we had created a ‘toxic’ over-dependency on me.
Through open and honest conversations together we identified this. She moved to my brother’s and I let go of the reins.
Not only did this show her that I believed in her (helping her connect with something she couldn’t see in herself), she was able to pick up those reins ‘her way’ and learn from ‘her’ mistakes (not mine), building skills and more evidence to support her self-belief.
She came to realise she was perfectly capable of managing her life, both practically and emotionally. Essentially she developed a ‘belief in herself’ and her ability to respond to whatever life throws at her. In turn, this lessened the anxiety – you don’t need to be anxious if you believe:
‘I’ve got this’…
Whilst this is only a ‘bite’ about beliefs and their impact, I hope this inspired you to reflect on your own beliefs as well as how you could be influencing the beliefs that others hold.
Please share this idea with others who you feel might benefit from it.
If you’d like some support re-framing unhelpful or limiting beliefs or creating more helpful beliefs, then please get in touch with me at [email protected].
As always, here’s to a life of success. Until next time!