“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali
The video we posted last week has been stuck in my head now for awhile. I keep thinking, “What do I really believe?” and, more importantly, “What am I doing/saying/thinking every day that’s changing or reinforcing those beliefs?” And not only myself, but everyone I come in contact with. In particular, what do we believe about change? The results of my absolutely-not-very-scientific study? Not good.
Almost every conversation I had about change, whether it be with co-workers or clients, involved something negative. As soon as the idea of major change comes up, phrases like “We’ve never been very good at change” or “I doubt we could pull that off” start being used. Even if they’re followed with something that sounds positive, we’ve already laid the groundwork for failure.
Sometimes we sabotage new ideas before we even really give them a chance. Two different brainstorming sessions recently included people introducing brand new ideas with the phrases “This is probably not possible, but…” and “I doubt this is something that we could do, but…” Well of course we can’t – we’ve already talked ourselves out of it!
One of our biggest jobs as leaders is to drive change, and the beliefs of the individuals in your organization are a huge part of that. And yet, we spend so much time dragging those beliefs down by being negative. I think we’re so used to saying negative things we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Which is why I’m convinced that self-policing won’t work. We need accountability from someone else. So I’d challenge you to find that person. Maybe it’s a coach, maybe it’s a peer, maybe it’s someone inside your organization, maybe outside. Whoever it is, agree that you’re going to call each other on it. When one of you hears the other saying something that drives negative belief, say so. Make the other person rephrase what they were saying so that it’s a positive statement.
That maybe sounds elementary or cheesy or lame, but whatever it is it’s better than continuing to sabotage ourselves and our organizations by our negative beliefs. Ask yourself: Am I improving or damaging my beliefs (and the beliefs of others around me) by what I say? Who is holding me accountable for how I speak? You’re the leader – what do you believe?