‘Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t. ― Lauren Bacall
What do Walt Disney, Van Gogh and JK Rowling have in common?
A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because, ‘He lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. After numerous bankruptcies he went on to build the first ever Disneyland, even after the first park in Anaheim was rejected. Van Gogh only ever sold one painting in his lifetime, and that was to a sister of one his friends for a measly $50 in today’s currency. He still went on to paint over 800 masterpieces. JK Rowling authored a book about a young boy wizard that was rejected by 12 publishers before a small London house picked it up.
Never give up!
These are common stories. What if they had not persisted? What would we be missing out on today? Mickey Mouse and the characters of Fantasia would not exist and would not have lit up the hearts and minds of children the world over. I would have been devastated, being a devout Harry Potter fan, if this mythical tale had not made its way into my world.
So, what do all the people in these stories have in common? They didn’t give up—no matter what the cost. They had a strong belief in themselves and their ideas and dreams. They were tenacious and had a clear purpose to which they were fearlessly committed. Highly successful people have a strong commitment to action; they don’t need to question what they believe to be true.
Beliefs are lies we tell ourselves.
Beliefs are things we consider true. They form the basis of our thoughts and influence the choices we make. But beliefs change, they come and go. What about Santa Claus?
There was a time it served us to believe in a jolly old man in a red suit that delivered toys to good children. Flexibility in our beliefs doesn’t always come naturally though and beliefs often become stronger with time and reinforcement. I see executives with deeply held beliefs they find hard to shake; like labelling people based on past experiences and what they have seen, instead of being open to that person in the here and now.
We subconsciously focus on information consistent with our belief and it builds this muscle, this belief. This is because our cognitive system will do what is necessary to preserve them.
Courage, confidence and conviction
To lead in today’s world, you can have the best intent and a golden purpose, but without belief in yourself and the journey ahead, you will remain one-dimensional. You need to adopt courage, confidence and conviction to believe in yourself and your purpose.
‘Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.’ ― Abraham Lincoln
Conviction derives from self-belief; this alone is a personally held belief. It is internal and leads to commitment. It is what the world sees and what you project as a leader. I think of conviction and belief as inwards and commitment as outwards. Conviction happens on the inside along with self-belief, while commitment is what we see and action on the outside. Belief is a mindset.
Use your imagination
Our beliefs are based on our personal position, which is a result of many contributing factors. These factors include our experiences, culture, values, upbringing, biases and ultimately our map of the world and how we view it. We all have our own view of the world—our imagination.
The magic we see or don’t see depends on who we are, where we came from and what key influences have shaped us and shape us.
If we were all flying in a plane over a vast green field some of us would see grass, some a field, some would only see the pond. The fact is, we all see what we want to see based on our perspective. There is no wrong or right, just what is to us.
If what we see, feel and tell ourselves doesn’t serve our greatest good then we need to let them go. You need to believe authentically in who you are and what you are doing as a leader. Clear purpose, congruency of values, direction and passion will assist in increased confidence and belief within yourself. When self-belief is authentically ignited and projected, others cannot help but believe in you.
What colour is your conviction?
- What are you doing to ignite your self-belief even further?
- If your conviction to your beliefs was a colour, do you need to turn up the vibrancy? Is it mauve and needs to be bright purple?
- What is going on between these two tones of colour?
Many of us are unaware of our own beliefs. They are not on our radar and we don’t think about them or question them consciously. Invest in the time to map out your beliefs. Remember, beliefs are what we tell ourselves, usually over and over again. The more attention and thought we give them, the more real they become. You need to make sure your beliefs serve and empower you. If they don’t, you can rewrite them.
Take some time to dissect and discover your beliefs around your leadership.
What do you need to believe in, from the heart, to be the truest and best version of a leader you can be?