Is it important and do
you believe it?
The ability to make appropriate judgement calls and effective decisions is a quality any businessperson must have if they want to lead their company towards success and far away from failure. And the difference between a successful billionaire and an average entrepreneur is often a profound quality called belief.
What would you attempt if you believed you could never fail?
There are certain behavioural qualities that we can all recognize would benefit particular elements of our working, personal and social lives. These can be things such as confidence, creativity, presentation skills, social skills, linguistics, pro-activity, courage, dynamic thinking, management skills, organization… The list can go on and on.
One of the main qualities that set an excellent salesman apart from an average one is something called confidence – confidence in their product, confidence in their knowledge of and ability to sell that product, and, more importantly, confidence within themselves.
One of the main qualities that set an excellent salesman apart from an average one is something called confidence.
Where does this confidence come from? What quality creates that fearless instinct?
The answer is self-belief.
Our belief system is one of the most powerful influences on our perception and behaviour. Every day, deals are won and lost off the back of beliefs. Wars are started, promotions achieved, major businesses launched and careers held back, all because of the system we operate under, called our belief structure.
Remember, our conscious mind can only comprehend a limited amount of information at any one time (five, seven or nine pieces of it), and it is through this limited perception that we focus and choose what information to base our reality upon. Our perception, our choices, judgements, decisions and all subsequent behaviours are guided by our beliefs and our values. Whatever you believe to be true, is.
Our beliefs are the things in life that we know to be true, although they are not actually based upon any real, factual evidence. Most beliefs are usually created during our childhood, but they can also be conclusions created from our past experiences, or the influence of shared opinions from other respected individuals (people whom we consider to know better or know more than we do, such as teachers, parents, figures of authority, friends, and so on).
Our expectations in life often influence our beliefs.
Our expectations in life often influence our beliefs.
Endorsement of beliefs
If the very first time you applied for a promotion you were for whatever reason unsuccessful, although you would be disappointed, you might choose to put it down to just bad luck.
If you applied a second time for promotion and again didn’t get it, you would probably wonder why, and quite possibly become a little wary of applying a third time.
If you applied a third time there is a strong chance that you would now be feeling sceptical about being offered even an interview, let alone the job itself. If your hunch turned out to be right, then you would probably be left believing that you will never actually be promoted within this company and that it is therefore time either to give up all hope of promotion or at least to begin looking for a job elsewhere.
This is the process known as “endorsement”. Because most of our beliefs are installed when we are young, it can only take one strong endorsement for the belief to resonate and become true.
If at school your teacher (a figure in authority) looked over your homework and said, “You are rubbish at maths,” and if you looked at your work at that moment, compared it to someone else’s and found some confirmation that your teacher was indeed right (as far as you could perceive), your subconscious would then accept the teacher’s statement as fact and create a forever restrictive belief that you are indeed rubbish at maths. Having started to believe it, you stop trying (because no one enjoys failing) and then focus your limited attention on things you feel you are better at. And because you stop attempting to improve your maths skills by practising, those skills never improve, meaning that you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just that you believe you can’t, and therefore don’t try – and unless you practise, how can you ever expect to improve?
Because beliefs influence our perceptions and motivations, they are often fairly difficult to change. And most beliefs tend to become selffulfilling prophecies.
Most beliefs tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Since our perceptual filters select the information we choose to take on board, the information our mind chooses to focus upon will consequently only ever be the information that reflects and resonates with our current belief system. This means that the only information your subconscious allows you to become aware of is the evidence to back up the belief, therefore making it near impossible to disprove.
But our beliefs are not only negative – they can be positive too. If you believe you can do something, then the chances are you will keep trying until you find a way to succeed. This is often the belief system driving successful entrepreneurs. Because they truly believe in their ideas, their entrepreneurial skills and their drive, and honestly believe that they are destined to be successful, they will hone their perceptual filters to allow through only information that reflects this belief. If they make a mistake, they see it as a simple learning curve and not as a failure – in other words, as an example of a way not to do something rather than evidence that they should stop trying and give up.
Your mind has the ability to learn anything. The problem is that we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others and seek external feedback to gauge our progress. Because all our minds our different, they ways in which we take on information and the speeds at which we learn are also different. All of us can learn some things faster than others. This doesn’t mean that we can’t eventually learn to do everything, only that with some things it may take more time and a little more practice.
Your mind has the ability to learn anything.
This doesn’t matter when we are younger, as we are not externally aware enough to feel embarrassed about our mistakes, but as we grow older and our need to be accepted and to fit in increases, it starts to matter more. When we find ourselves working at a slower pace than someone else or not understanding something in the way we expect to, or if our attempt is met with ridicule or negative feedback, we very quickly respond with an “away from” strategy and cease attempting to learn the new behaviour, installing instead the new belief that we cannot do it.
Yet there is no such thing as failure – only feedback. We can all learn to walk, talk, eat, read and write, if we are just given the patience and time to learn.
There is no such thing as failure – only feedback.
Beliefs direct the focus of our behaviour; they motivate us, guide us and can provide us with a sense of security, belonging and acceptance.
Exercise: Manipulating your beliefs
First think of a belief you know to be true; for example, “I am a great salesman.” (If you are struggling to find a belief, use something else you believe or know to be true, such as “The world is round,” “There are seven days in the week,” and so on.)
Do you get a picture, have a feeling, or hear a sound? What are the submodalities of this belief, the specific qualities creating this sensory experience?
Next think of a belief that is holding you back and that you would like to change; for example, “I am not a confident speaker.”
Now superimpose the qualities of the belief that you know to be true on to those of the belief that you would like to change.
Imagine you want to become self employed – what’s stopping you?
We cluster our beliefs together to form our belief systems. These systems are then used to support and back up our values. The belief we have in our expectations will always become our reality.
The belief we have in our expectations will always become our reality.
Our values are the driving forces behind all of our actions and they provide the “why” (the intent) to our behaviour. Every single one of our actions, habits, structures or behavioural patterns began with a value – a reason why to do it and a positive intent. Our values are the driving influences that can motivate or demotivate our behaviour.
We judge all of actions against our values and use them to arrive at conclusions about whether a performed deed was good or bad.
As well as often providing the reason “why” behind our behaviour and our motivations, our values provide focus to our goals and ambitions. Our values give us our reason for being and our sense of purpose in life. Without them we would probably never go out to work, interact with others or even bother to get out of bed in the morning.
How our values start
Most of our values are created throughout our childhood and into our early twenties. We begin originally imprinting our values as a result of our surrounding environment and unconscious learned behaviour. As we develop, we then progress to modelling and learning both consciously and unconsciously as we begin to copy the behaviour and values of our peers, friends, family and adults.
It is during this time that we install some of our fundamental and most deep-rooted values.
Towards our later years, our values become influenced through our experiences with our social environments and our subsequent conclusion. During this time, we learn the importance of relationships, as well as the consequences and influence of our actions upon ourselves and others.
The hierarchy of values
We have many different values, all of them varying in their degree of importance and influence. Our values tend to be listed within our subconscious in a hierarchy of importance, which helps to facilitate our decisions when choosing one action over another.
For example – do you decide to get out of the warm, cosy bed and go to work this morning?
• The bed’s perceived value: instant gratification of a warm duvet, which makes you feel comfortable and safe.
• Work’s value: no instant gratification, but eventually provides the money that buys security and provides freedom. Without it, there would be no nice warm bed to lie in.
• Resulting subconscious decision: to get out of bed and go to work.
Each of our values has its place in a hierarchy of importance.
Each of our values has its place in a hierarchy of importance.
Exercise: Uncovering your values
Think of an area in your life that you want to improve. Maybe you’re self employed and you want a better work–life balance.
Answer these questions:
• What is important to you in your work?
• What do you gain?
• And what other factors do you think are important to you in this area?
List your answers and then put them into order of importance to you, placing your most important value at the top – for example:
Look at your list of values. Are they in the right order or do you need to move the order around? Do your values reflect your ambitions? If you want to spend more time at home, should you maybe swap over “freedom” and “acknowledgement”?
Look at your top three values and consider whether or not they are in conflict with your current behaviour and desires.
You desire spending more time with the family – that means freedom. But because you value acknowledgement and money over this freedom, when you make your subconscious “either or” decision, you will end up choosing something that reflects your current higher value of money, rather than your desired value of freedom. You subconsciously make your decision based upon your current hierarchy of values.
You subconsciously make your decision based upon your current hierarchy of values.
This could result in you choosing to spend more time at work than at home, but leave you feeling guilty or resentful because your desires are in conflict with your current values.
If you find you are currently choosing something that is incongruent to your goals, then move your values around.
Exercise: Changing your values
By choosing to alter your hierarchy of values or adding more suitable ones to your list, you can enhance the values that lead you towards your goals and influence the ones that are holding you back.
You can also change the hierarchy of your values by altering the submodalities (characteristics, images and thoughts) of the values within your mind.
Let’s look at the same values as before:
When you think of the value “Freedom”, notice the picture or the feelings or sounds in terms of size, colour, position, movement, focus, location, volume, etc.
Now notice the images you create when you think of the value “Money”. Next, change the qualities of the images you have for “Freedom”, so that they become the same as the ones you have for “Money”. This will cause “Freedom” to move to the same level as “Money”.
2. Money. Freedom.
Then change the qualities that you had for “Money” and make them the same as the ones that you previously had for “Freedom”. This will cause “Money” to move down to where “Freedom” used to be on your hierarchy structure.
By altering the order of your values, you will notice that you can influence your subconscious decision-making strategies and change from choosing “work” over “home life”, to “home life” over “work”.
Our values can be categorized as either an “end” or a “means to” (as in “a means to an end”). “End” values are our subconscious’s goals. The “end” value is the aim for all of our behaviour and is the main driving factor behind our ambitions and the subsequent motivation for achieving these ambitions. “Means to” values are the secondary values that lead us towards attaining our “end” value.
“Means to” value
I want to become self employed.
I want to work in a busier working environment.
I want to be part of a larger firm.
Changing beliefs from negative to positive
1. Make a list of all the things in life you would want to do, if you knew you couldn’t fail. For example:
• I want to change my career.
• I want to be a successful journalist and travel the world.
2. Next to that list, write down everything you believe is preventing you from achieving what you want: I want to change my career, but:
• I’m not able to do anything else.
• I’m too old to go back to studying.
• I need the security of my income.
3. Now, looking at your answers, spend a bit of time working through each one, changing the negative elements so that they become positive.
• I’m not able to do anything else changes to I have the opportunity finally to learn about something I have always been interested in.
• I’m too old to go back to studying changes to I have the maturity to get the most out of my training.
• I need the security of my income changes to I have the opportunity to earn a lot more money.
4. Now re-read your wish list, reading out the new beliefs. Spend some time imagining what would happen if you followed these new beliefs. How do you feel, and what positive differences would it make to your life?
By choosing to change your beliefs, you will change your reality and inevitably obtain your dreams.
Go for it! Learning to understand how your beliefs and values influence your thinking provides you with the insight and knowledge necessary for you to begin taking charge of your actions and deeds.
We respond to the world through our perceptions, and these perceptions are influenced by our beliefs. Once we recognize our beliefs and the intent driving our values, we can choose to change them and take control of our own perceptions and subsequently influence our reality. What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail – and what’s stopping you? Change the belief, change your reality and obtain your dreams.