If there were only one thing that I could communicate to readers, it would be this all-important observation:
The results that you get in business (and in life) are simply a byproduct of your beliefs.
Human beings all live in a cycle, in which beliefs and results are inextricably linked. Here's how it works:
- Your beliefs determine how you feel about each situation, because those beliefs tell you what each situation means.
- Your emotions (and attitude) determine how well (or badly) you'll perform in any given situation.
- Your performance, naturally enough, is directly connected to your results. Though there may be other factors in play, it's only your performance over which you have control.
- Finally, your performance reinforces your beliefs, in either a negative or positive way.
The following diagram encapsulates this process:
Expectations Versus Reality
To illustrate how this works, I'll use an example from the world of sales.
Imagine a salesman who must do cold calling to build up a sales pipeline. This salesman has a deeply held belief that "if, first thing in the morning, I get 10 rejections in a row, it means I'm going to have a bad day and not make any sales."
The moment that salesman approaches that 10-rejection threshold, he begins to adopt an apprehensive attitude, wondering whether the 10 rejections will "prove" that he's going to have a bad day.
He begins to feel fear and defensiveness, which immediately creep into his voice. He starts thinking about his "bad day," rather than listening to the customer. His apprehensiveness virtually guarantees that he'll get the (ominous) 10th rejection--at which point his emotional state (which is already low) will plummet further.
The sales rep is now absolutely sure that he's going to have a bad day. His despair makes him even less effective. After a few hours, he stops cold calling, having "proven" his belief. And then, the next day, he starts the process again, worried about those all-important "10 rejections."
In other words, his beliefs are creating a future of failure.
Hanging on to Bad Beliefs
You'd be surprised how many people hang on to beliefs that create failure--without realizing that their beliefs are just as unrealistic as the "10 rejections" superstition. I couldn't possibly go through the entire list, but here are three that I hear a lot:
- Mondays are always depressing
- The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
- Life sucks, and then you die.
The absolute worst example I ever saw was a guy at a nearby lake who was fishing with his shirt off. He had a tattoo on his shoulder that read "Born Loser." True story.
Anyway, I don't want to belabor the point. What's important here is to adopt beliefs that create a brighter and better future.
This is essential, because just as lousy beliefs put you into a descending cycle--where failure becomes ever easier--powerful beliefs can put you into an ascending cycle, where success becomes easier.
With that in mind, here are 10 beliefs that, in my view, consistently create positive emotions, better performance, and much better results:
- I always act with a purpose.
- I take responsibility for my results.
- I stretch myself past my limits daily.
- I don't wait for perfection; instead, I act now.
- I learn more from my failures than my successes.
- I take my job seriously, but I do not take myself too seriously.
- I use rejection to renew my humility and sharpen my objectivity.
- I use both negative and positive feedback to keep on target.
- I am careful about what I put into my mind and body.
- I seek out people who are similarly motivated to improve themselves.
I wish I could say that I thought of all of the above myself, but the cycle described above and the "success beliefs" that follow are actually based on a life-changing conversation I had with the legendary Art Mortell, author of The Courage to Fail.
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