I recently picked up a book from the bookshelf in my office. It was a book I had purchased for a course that I never completed, but the title jumped out at me that morning. I thought it might be good for my next read.
Then, I read the back cover. It was a book that challenged one of my most deeply held beliefs. For a moment, every fiber of my being screamed “I DO NOT WANT TO READ THAT BOOK!”
Wow. Sometimes, our strongest reactions give us the biggest insight. For me, that insight was just how important this belief was to me, for starters.
After a brief reflection, I remembered just how hard we, as humans, often hold onto our beliefs, how hard we fight to keep potential evidence that we might be wrong out of our consciousness. Dan Goodwin, a recent acquaintance, told me that although we say we want the truth, most of us are unwilling to seek it, much less hear it. He said that we’re much more comfortable reading, hearing, and ingesting things that confirm what we already believe. Yup, confirmation bias at its finest.
Does that mean our beliefs ARE wrong? No, not necessarily, but it does mean we might be missing something significant. We might not see some nuance that will help us grow or, more importantly, connect with someone else.
I concluded that I really do need to read that book. If nothing else, it will give me a perspective on how other people think about a topic that is important to me. It might pave the way for a conversation or a relationship with someone because I will have some perspective on their point of view.
It might make it easier to find common ground rather than enemy territory.
As leaders, we must challenge our own beliefs. I’m sure you’ve heard the Albert Einstein quote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” It’s true.
And if we cling blindly to our beliefs, our old way of thinking, well . . .
Does that mean we have to throw out all of our beliefs? Of course not. But we might need to throw out ones that are not true anymore or that are not serving us.
When we don’t challenge our beliefs, when we don’t know where they come from, whether they are true, or whether they are helpful. And that’s when we get stuck in the same old thinking. That’s when we can’t solve our problems. That’s when relationships difficult can be difficult. That’s when our success can be limited.
Ultimately, our beliefs either help us move forward or keep us stuck. Refining and changing my beliefs means allowing them to serve me and my purposes better – even if that belief is in purple unicorns with magic powers. 😉
Challenging your beliefs isn’t easy. Stopping and assessing what triggers you and diving deeper instead of running away, isn’t easy. But once you get the hang of it, the possibilities become endless.
To get you started, here are 5 questions to ask yourself about your beliefs:
- Is what I believe “TRUE”? Maybe not empirically, but is it true?
- Does what I believe serve me, help me accomplish my goals?
- Does what I believe help or hinder my relationships?
- Is it my belief or something that someone else told me to believe? Are they reliable? Objective?
- Are you willing to entertain an argument that opposes your belief? If not, why?
I challenge you to take one of your most strongly held beliefs and ask these questions about it. Let me know how it goes!
Developing awareness of limiting beliefs and cultural conditioning is one of the pillars of my Transcendence Coaching Methodology. If you’d like to learn more about it, book a free call and I’ll fill you in!