“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort.” – Sydney Smith
We cover a multitude of topics in this space, but one that we mention repeatedly (here, here, and here, for example) is belief. It’s not as easy to measure as sales or profit, and it sounds touchy-feely, so most leaders really don’t spend much time thinking about it. However, time and time again as we work with businesses and the people who lead them, we’re reminded that if your beliefs aren’t right, your actions – and outcomes – won’t be either.
For those of you who missed or have forgotten about all those posts about belief, here’s the brief refresher: When something happens to you, your belief about that event or situation drives your response (action), which then drives the outcome. You can’t control all the things that happen, and the responses are dictated by what you belief, therefore the one thing you must manage is your beliefs.
For example, if you think your company needs to increase sales, but you think there’s no way you can do it, you won’t take the actions that are necessary to increase sales (why bother?) and thus, sales won’t grow. It essentially becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I love my career, but one of the hardest parts is seeing people and organizations with virtually limitless potential muddling along in mediocrity or worse. Too many potentially great leaders and organizations believe that there is a very low ceiling they’ll never break through, that it’s impossible for things to be any better than they are, that everything in the world is beyond their control. Because they believe those things, they don’t do what’s necessary to be great or even to be moderately successful. Why would they if it’s hopeless?
Here’s your task for the week: listen to yourself and those around you. Listen to how you talk about change or about the future. Listen to how you talk about the challenges or opportunities you face. Listen to how you talk about the market, or your customers, or even other people within the organization. It usually doesn’t take long figure out what your collective beliefs are.
If you don’t like what you here, then you’ve got work to do. Without the right beliefs nothing else will happen. You’re the leader – so start with you.