The recent holiday season reminded me of an experience which taught me that our beliefs can be barriers or breakthroughs. Let me explain. I didn’t know about vision boards back when I started my first business. I was starting from scratch with a fresh concept in a corner of my unfinished basement, with second hand stuff and DIY decor. It was 2001. Google wasn’t yet a verb. There were no social media sites to inspire with posts and pins. For motivation, I turned to entrepreneur origin stories in any book I could get from my local library. And I found the story of Debbie Fields, which was especially compelling…a hardback is available on Amazon, or she shares tips in this Forbes article. Somewhere in that reading adventure, I came across this quote from Henry Ford:
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re rightHenry Ford
I printed these words and pinned up next to my desk, an old-school pre-digital vision board to inspire me to pursue my dream of running a business. There are many books and talks and content about the power of belief. Which brings me back to a realisation I had over the holidays. It happened when I was wrapping up a few gifts. I unrolled and carefully cut off an appropriate square of paper. And as I was taping up I remembered how much pride I once had about my wrapping skills. For years I considered myself to be an outstanding wrapper of gifts. I took great care in selecting wrap, coordinating bows, and perfect ribbon curls. It was like a secret superpower which enhanced the joy of my gift giving experience.
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What are your internalised beliefs?
It was only at some long ago event, when my meticulously wrapped present was on a gift table next to many others, that the ugly truth hit me. I was terrible at wrapping. Awful. Among the crisp corners of so many sophisticated looking presents, my offering sat there like a donation from a Victorian orphanage. My present looked like it had been wrapped by a 6 year old. And then it all made sense.
As a child, some well meaning adult told me I was good at wrapping. This compliment was spoken with love and good intentions, meant to encourage me. And perhaps my wrapping was good, for a 5 year old. Everything is relative, right? The thing is, I internalised that message. I believed it. I took that one comment to be true, and I believed it about myself. Because that belief prevented me from seeing that I still wrapped gifts like the young child I was when I heard the message.
Beliefs as barriers
For years, I’d been giving gifts with confidence and gusto. My belief that I was good at wrapping blinded me from seeing what others saw. I had pride in my skills, so I enjoyed the wrapping experience and not recognise that the result looked like it had been wrapped in the dark by someone in a fever dream. My belief was a barrier. It blocked me from seeing reality.
Belief as breakthroughs
The lesson here is that an internalised belief is very powerful. A belief is a thought you keep thinking. But back to Henry Ford, whether you think you can, or you can’t – you are right. If your business isn’t growing or operating the way you want it to, examine what thoughts you can practise to develop the belief that will allow for a breakthrough. Beliefs like “I am a good listener” or “I am organised” can drive behaviours which will benefit your business.
Bottom line – what does this mean for you?
A belief is a thought you keep thinking. Beliefs can be a barrier to seeing what others see. However, beliefs also have the power to cause breakthroughs. What we believe forms our attitudes, which drives our actions and behaviours.
What we believe about ourselves may no longer be true. It may never have been true. Perhaps it came from a teacher in a bad mood, commenting about your homework. Or it could have been a cruel remark from someone jealous or insecure. Also, it may have been something you heard when you were 5 years old, or something you heard last year.
Finally, reflect on your beliefs and track their origin to see where they came from. Do a reality-check on how accurate they are. Determine which ones are fencing you in and holding you back from being and doing what you want and need.