“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I trust that if you are reading this sentence right now, that the title of this blog did not put you off with the belief the content was too sappy to apply to leadership and performance. And for anyone who did dismiss the relevance, they helped me prove my point –that belief is one of the two most important words in the English language. Its origin is from an old Germanic word “PIE *leubh” which means to care, desire or love. As time and people progressed, the word took on different forms and variations. The Latin word for belief is fides, meaning trust or faith. The English language created various renditions like belief, belief system, believe in, and believe.
Belief in all its forms packs a mighty punch. If you don’t “believe” me, ask yourself the next set of questions and see the impact this one word can have on your actions, decisions, and interactions with others. Keep in mind -I encourage you to answer openly, honestly and with the assurance that whatever response you create is 100% CORRECT.
- Do you believe in your abilities, skills, and talents? If you’re like most of us, including me, you quickly responded “Yeah.” And for that I applaud you; however, one more question, “Are you sure?” At first blush, most of us “believe in ourselves”, but only after we prove to ourselves that we are really good at it. What’s worse, if we are not good at it, we dismiss the skill or talent as something we “believe” we don’t have and beat ourselves up for our so-called weaknesses. We create both the good and the bad as TRUTH and all too often believe in the bad more than the good. So, if what you believe is TRUTH, why would you ever adopt any belief about you that is something other than good? I am not talking about being arrogant; I am talking about trusting yourself and knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, even when doubt rears its ugly head. One of the greatest basketball players in the nineteenth century appeared at 5’ 3” to be too small to play professionally, yet Muggsy Bogues had a successful 15 years in the National Basketball Association. Just like the auto giant, Henry Ford, said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Leaders have a strong belief in themselves.
- Do you believe in others’ abilities, skills, and talents? Remember, be honest….. I hear time and time again from so many people, “I can’t trust so and so.” I always am disheartened by this phrase because what we are really saying is we don’t believe in others’ good qualities; we only believe in their flaws. I get it. There are people out there who simply can’t be trusted: perhaps politicians, convicted criminals, lawyers and used car salesmen might make this list? Our belief system may tell us that this is true because there have been plenty of people in those positions who were flawed in the past. However, if we don’t believe in each other, then where does that leave us? Alone and without a connection? That makes us loners, not leaders. As a leader, you must establish a mutual trust with an individual in order to positively influence them-and it all starts with believing. There have been many studies conducted in elementary school classrooms demonstrating this point. In classes, where the teachers expressed their lack of belief on the children, telling them things like, “Your grades aren’t good enough to make it” or “Your behavior is awful and you will never amount to anything”, students were much less likely to make it to the next school grade. Sometimes our beliefs give someone else “permission” to believe in themselves. Leaders must believe in others to achieve sustained success and performance.
- Do you believe in something more powerful than yourself? I am not trying to turn this into a spiritual or religious piece, although personally, I do believe in the power of God. Sometimes our beliefs are more powerful than we are, and actually, fuel us to a higher desire or purpose. For instance, Nelson Mandela endured those years of imprisonment because he believed in the power of rights for all South Africans. Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started, yet his belief in the power of providing all people with personal computers drove him to surpass his own initial goals. When we believe in a higher purpose or goal, we achieve great things, not only for ourselves but also for others. In fact, many times it is this belief that transcends our own doubts. In fact, I think parents are a prime example of this concept. Their belief in raising children into amazing human beings is a pretty major force! Creating goals and aspirations for a greater good is a huge driver of belief. Leaders believe in something more power than themselves.
Belief…. The very important six letter word that packs a powerful punch. Belief in yourself, others and something more powerful than yourself creates outstanding results and long lasting positive impact on you, others and the world. As the great Journey song says, “Don’t Stop Believing”.