You Can Change What You Believe
For nine years the record time for running one mile hovered just above four minutes. As early as 1945, Gunder Haegg had approached the barrier with a time of 4:01.4. Many people said the four-minute barrier would never be broken. It simply defied man’s physical limits. But in 1954 Roger Bannister broke the tape at 3:59.4. And what was the result? Well, as soon as the myth of the “impossible barrier” was dispelled, many world-class milers bettered the four-minute mark. In almost no time the four-minute achievement was broken sixty-six times by twenty-six different runners!
What can we learn from this story? To me, it’s about the power of our personal belief system; the power to positively AND negatively impact our lives, our performance, our businesses, even our dreams. You’ve heard it said, “If you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you are right!”
What Do You Believe About Yourself?
If you simply dismiss this notion as hopeful thinking or naiveté, I think you miss the larger point. Almost any world-class athlete will tell you that believing in yourself is critical to success. I’ve heard some say that they “see themselves” winning. By this I think they mean they use their powers of imagination and picture themselves crossing the finish line first. I’ve heard professional golfers tell me when they are preparing to hit the next shot, standing over the ball and looking at the situation ahead, they imagine the ball’s flight and how they will hit it.
Your beliefs drive your decisions. Your decisions determine your outcomes. But it all starts with your beliefs.
Your beliefs drive your decisions. Your decisions determine your outcomes. But it all starts with your beliefs. What do you tell yourself? What do you believe about your situation? What do you imagine you can do? Can you picture yourself winning? Succeeding? Can you imagine what that would look like?
How Do I Start Believing In Myself?
We all have the ability to believe, to imagine, to hope. How do you stop the negative beliefs and turn them to the positive?
- Surround yourself with encouraging people who care about you. This is perhaps the easiest and best way to start changing your beliefs. The more we hear encouragement, the more we are encouraged. Of course the opposite is also true, which is why we have to put ourselves in the proper situation with the right people. We are better versions of ourselves when we do life in a community that cares about us, and that we care about.
- Study those who have succeeded in their chosen field, be it athletics, business, research, art, etc. What were their stories? Try to find out what they believed about themselves. For example, in the case of Roger Bannister above, no one had run the four-minute mile before he did. I’m sure he believed he could break the barrier as he approached that race. And, after he did it, it was easier for others to believe they could do it. Study people like Roger.
- Imagine what success would look like to you and your dreams. Write that down. Ask yourself what would need to happen for your dreams to become reality. Write that down. Discuss this with your community. I’m guessing they will encourage you, advise you, and cheer you on. You need this.
- Set near-term, intermediate and long-term goals for yourself to accomplish what you wrote down from the previous paragraph.
- Start the journey. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
The more you accomplish, the more your beliefs will grow. But for those times when success seems out of reach and your discouragement grows, use your support system — your community — those encouraging people you’ve surrounded yourself with.
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(Most of the lead paragraph above from Richard Exley, with my thanks.)