“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali
What do you believe about your organization? What do you believe about your people? What do you believe about your customers? Those sound like questions your psychiatrist should ask. Leaders are supposed to understand their industry or business model, they’re supposed to understand sales, etc. But how often do leaders focus on what they believe?
I’ll get right to the point – if you tell yourself something over and over, eventually you’ll believe it to be true. If you believe something to be true, your actions will reflect that belief. It’s exactly what Ali is saying in the opening quote and it’s true. The human mind is fascinating and capable of amazing things. One of the amazing things is the ability to intentionally change ones beliefs (for good or bad). The way that starts is with affirmations.
The idea of affirmations is simple – it’s about vision. Whatever you think about you’ll see in your head. Whatever you see in your head is what you’ll get. Some people might think that sounds like hypnosis or something like that. It’s not that at all. Self talk (the things we say to ourselves) is what we do all day long. You get to choose whether it’s positive or negative.
A simple example: think of someone who plays a big part in your life that you don’t especially care for. If you continually tell yourself “I don’t like Jim” and constantly think about all the things Jim does that annoy you, you’ll like Jim less and less. On the other hand, if you tell yourself something like “I like Jim” and think about Jim’s positive characteristics you will find your attitude about Jim will change (trust me, I speak from experience).
What do affirmations and belief have to do with leaders? Simple. Your beliefs about your organization will drive your behavior. Like Henry Ford said (my all time favorite quote): “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” If you think there’s no way for your business to realize 20% growth, then I guarantee you it won’t. You won’t be motivated to figure out a way how to do it. You won’t be committed. But if you tell yourself every day, “We’re going to grow the business by 20%”, eventually your attitude will change. You’ll start to look for ways to make that happen. You’ll get creative, you’ll innovate, you’ll break that big task down into manageable pieces and figure out a way to make it happen.
What affirmations are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself positive or negative things? Do you have the beliefs of someone who’s going to succeed? Or someone who’s going to fail?
“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe