The following article appeared on Inc.com today as a part of my column, “Behind The Desk.” Look out for new columns every week!
Your beliefs are a powerful driving force that can work for you or against you. Fortunately, you can become conscious of your beliefs, stop sabotaging yourself and move steadily towards what you want.
Some beliefs empower you, while others limit you. By becoming aware of your beliefs, you can keep the ones that serve you, weed out the ones that don’t, and choose the ones that will support who you want to be.
Here’s an example. A common belief of busy entrepreneurs is, “I have to work hard to get ahead.” Immediately the limitations of this belief are apparent. Working from this belief implies that you must sacrifice parts of your life (home life, health, and hobbies come to mind) to “get ahead.” Now consider this belief instead: “I have to be my best to get ahead.” This belief is more empowering, because it opens up the possibilities. It still accepts the potential for working hard if that is what’s required, but it also allows for the fact that getting ahead sometimes means taking time for the rest and renewal that keeps you at your best.
Developing empowering beliefs is a three-step process:
Become aware of your beliefs. You can go after them directly by asking yourself, “What do I believe,” or you can go after them directly by noticing your behavior and
asking yourself, “What would I have to believe to behave this way?”
Write down your beliefs. Take a look at them on paper with some objectivity. For each one, ask yourself, Is this belief limiting or empowering?
Turn limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. Just change the words, looking for the exact opposite of your limiting belief to find one that’s more empowering.
The process of distilling your beliefs takes time. Allow yourself time to try on different beliefs and see what fits and what doesn’t. Notice when you feel limited and deflated, and when you feel expansive and energized. Keep working with the wording of your beliefs until you’ve created the ones that you can claim with conviction–the beliefs that will help you be the entrepreneur you really want to be.
Being your best instead of being the best is the opposite of the “nose to the grindstone” mentality that drives our culture…and drives many entrepreneurs to destruction. Being your best is being so yourself that you naturally excel.
Ask yourself: are your beliefs limiting or empowering? How could you develop new beliefs to help you achieve your vision? Beliefs are fundamental to the way your life plays out. The difference between a limiting and an empowering belief is quite literally the difference between a limited and a powerful life. Choose your beliefs carefully. They make you who you are.
Related: The Post-It Note Approach To Time Management