"Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love..." - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the importance of grit. In doing so, I've come to realize we cannot have grit without faith, hope, and love. These three things are the foundation upon which we build a happy life, and I started to realize that they are also the bedrock that has helped me build a great business. But where does this kind of faith come from, and what is it?
To me, faith is the evidence of things unseen. It is your belief in a future outcome that will take effort from you or others to bring to fruition.
The intertwined nature of faith
Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted an experiment with elementary school children who took a math test. After the test, one group was given a compliment about their intelligence while the other group was praised for their hard work and effort. In subsequent tests, both harder and easier, the kids who were given feedback on their effort rather than their ability put more effort into improving their math skills after seeing lower scores. The kids praised for their intelligence after the first test were immediately demotivated due to the poor results they ended up receiving. Dweck went on to rerun the same test multiple times with the same results.
When we have faith in others and give them the tools to grow, they are able to have faith in themselves and move forward, which creates a positive bond of trust. Your faith and support help them improve, leading to better performance, which increases the faith they have in you, bolstering your own faith in yourself. As you invest your faith and resources in your employees and they, in turn, invest in you, you form a bond of mutual support, and you are all more likely to put in the hard work needed to succeed just like the kids who were praised for their efforts.
Faith in business
I have worked with hundreds of people over the past 25 years, and I am proud to see people who came into our company as interns, junior account managers, or copywriters who have now grown into leadership roles or gone on to thrive in other organizations. Much of this growth began with a conversation about what we believed they were capable of doing and a tangible plan to reach those goals.
Having faith in our employees motivates and empowers them, creating a positive company culture and increasing productivity. Our employees don't stagnate and, in turn, neither does the business. Perhaps most importantly, when employees trust they have a supportive force behind them, they are much more likely to work together and persevere during times of strife.
How to bring faith into your business
Faith is not just an idea; it's an action. You have to show your employees you have faith in them through tangible day-to-day actions. Have meetings with your employees where you talk about their future, what it could look like, and how they might get there. For example, I am currently working with an employee who would like to become a leader. They have never worked in that capacity before, so we are having conversations about what it will take and investing in a mentor for them. Not every step in the process has been smooth, but I believe with the actions we are taking together in mutual faith, they will be able to reach their goal.
Whether we are painters or project managers, we should all seek mentors and mentees who have faith in us and encourage us to put in the effort needed to improve. When we learn from others and go on to pass along our own knowledge, we are able to grow communally and continue the cycle of faith. After all, Leonardo da Vinci didn't become a master on his own. He worked for another master painter until he was 26 years old, growing under the tutelage of someone who knew far more than he did.
Faith is the catalyst
Having faith in ourselves and our employees doesn't mean we believe we are infallible; it means we have a growth mindset and we believe in our ability to get through any mistake or setback with hard work and learning. The path to success is not always pretty, and when your company runs into struggles, who will you want to be surrounded by: people who give up when it gets too hard or people who are powered by faith, band together, and overcome adversity?
Building a company on faith is not simply an added bonus. It is an essential component of the health of your business. Faith is the catalyst from which your business and your employees will ignite, growing into more effective leaders and coworkers while also putting faith in others to help take your company to new levels of growth.