Last week, in a coaching session with a client, he was telling me about the motives his boss has regarding his (my client’s) career growth. He believes his boss “talks” his support, yet his actions are contradictory to his words. Being the curious coach I am, I asked him to tell me what evidence he had for his belief.
Long pause—He wasn’t able to recall any specific evidence to support his belief. By working through some additional questions I asked him, he was able to examine whether his belief was accurate at all. He was beginning to question whether the belief was true or not. The true test came when my client had a direct conversation with his boss, something he’d been somewhat reluctant to do in the past about this topic.
To his great and happy surprise, he (my client) was wrong about his boss’s motives. It came down to a pretty significant misunderstanding regarding an incident that happened several years ago that was never addressed.
In any event, it got me thinking (I know, that last statement shocked you!): What is the impact of our beliefs on our actions?
Let me not understate the answer to this question at all – the impact is HUGE! And, it matters in every aspect of our lives, particularly in our roles as leaders.
The foregoing story presents an example of what are known as “limiting beliefs”. These are beliefs or assumptions that have been instilled in our subconscious and which we don’t question. The specific beliefs are generally no longer true, given the circumstances of one’s life today, yet the belief was never intentionally changed.
Beliefs (limiting or not) lead to thoughts; thoughts lead to actions and actions lead to results. It is really quite simple to understand, yet quite difficult to impact, unless you get to the source.
Over a century ago, a man named James Allen wrote, “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.” He wrote this in a tiny book entitled, As A Man Thinketh. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. Don’t let its brevity (72 pages in a 4 ½ by 6 ½ book) fool you; it is packed with thought provoking and timeless insight.
I used to “believe” my goals drove my actions, yet have come to realize this is not true, unless of course, I think about my goals all the time and don’t think of anything else. If I establish goals and don’t revisit them daily or hourly, I am allowing other thinking to drive my actions. The problem is, this “other thinking” is generally in the subconscious and I am not even aware of it, or the distraction it is causing me.
Fortunately or unfortunately, technology is in our world to stay. More and more aspects of our lives will be impacted by technology. For all its positives, there are some negatives to technology as well – the prime one being our lessening ability to disconnect from others who are trying to get our attention.
The more “connected” we are so we don’t miss anything, the more we are influenced by those people or entities reaching out to us. By default, the more connected we are, the less we are able to really think into the beliefs we have or whether they are serving us today.
What do you do to intentionally break away and think? If you say you don’t have time for this because it is a luxury, that is likely a limiting belief that has been instilled in you by some well-meaning, yet very uninformed people.
The most successful leaders I know take intentional time to think about a singular issue at a time. They identify what they think is the real problem, do some personal brainstorming for a list of 15 or more possible solutions or approaches, narrow the list to a few, then seek out the opinion of others who can help validate the few or add additional perspectives.
Many successful leaders utilize the services of an executive coach to help them think through the situation. The value of a skilled coach in this situation is their ability to ask the client questions enabling the client to really think into the situation they face, leading to the real outcome they want. This exercise then allows them to determine the actions needed to get the desired result.
It all starts with beliefs and a willingness to have those beliefs challenged when they no longer serve you.
How about you? When was the last time you allowed yourself to challenge a long held belief? Maybe it’s time to do so. Let me know if I can be of assistance.