Challenging limiting beliefs
Understanding how people tick is essential for a leader, especially at the level of our beliefs. Limiting beliefs can restrict lives, and create unsatisfying outcomes for years if unchallenged. Beliefs create our individual and collective worlds. Millions of pieces of information are available to us at any one time. Our beliefs lay down parameters which determine which pieces of information we receive. Our beliefs determine which pieces of information we accept or reject. If we don’t believe it, then we simply don’t perceive it, or won’t allow ourselves to perceive it.
Beliefs come in all sorts of packages and create all kinds of effects in our lives
- When conflicting beliefs come to our awareness they can create confusion
- Holding opposing beliefs at the same time can cause internal conflict
- Limiting beliefs can prevent you from receiving what you want
- Subconscious beliefs appear to control your behaviour and make you feel helpless
- You can bring subconscious beliefs into your awareness
- You can choose your beliefs. All beliefs are flexible
- The key to changing your world and experience is to change your limiting beliefs
- How you interpret reality around you can inform and shape your beliefs
- Beliefs are simply an interpretation you choose to determine as true
- Limiting beliefs can be changed.
Undoing limiting beliefs
When a leader or manager understands the process to go through to challenge limiting beliefs, then they have the key to secure positive change for the greater good. I’m not suggesting it is a leader or manager’s job to change people’s beliefs. And certainly, we need to make sure we respect people’s beliefs, particularly in the arena of equality. However, a good leader or manager will understand the effects of limiting beliefs and understand the process of undoing them.
People act and react in accordance with their beliefs and uncovering those beliefs to enable positive growth is extremely powerful. Brainwashing people or trying to force people down a different route is not ethical, and it is not what I am suggesting. Everyone has free will, and this must be respected. But it is useful to know, how and what you need to do to understand when your employees are holding unhelpful beliefs about themselves or others. Being aware these beliefs can be changed can help you to influence and persuade employees to adopt more positive beliefs.
I’ll give you an example. I worked hard for a couple of years engaging with a particular team. helping them think and feel highly motivated and successful. In those days I was pretty idealistic and hoped I would win everyone over and everyone would enjoy working in the team. But there was a core of people, who no matter what, were still unhappy. They habitually criticised and caused negative waves. Simply put, they had fixed beliefs about their working lives and maintaining their belief was more important to them then changing beliefs.
I was talking to one of the employees who could be particularly negative. I asked her why she seemed so resentful and was there something I was doing which was causing this particular resentment? Her reply was a real eye-opener. She told me it was nothing to do with me at all. I had come into the team and she observed I was trying to get the team on board. However, she didn’t like management, never had and never would. She went as far as to say nothing I would ever do would persuade her otherwise!
We did come to a somewhat uncomfortable compromise in the end, which limited her impact in terms of negativity within the team and how our relationship would work in the workplace given her fixed and unrelenting views. Not ideal, but then, not my job to change her beliefs.
The real power of understanding beliefs and belief systems is when managers are instigating change. Work on drawing out existing individual and team beliefs and then understanding how to help people see things through a different lens for the better within the workplace is the key to fundamental and lasting success.
Encouraging employees to reach positive beliefs about themselves, their contribution and the meaningfulness of your vision and task are the building blocks to brilliant success.
Incidentally for the sake of clarification: in the Equality Act; belief is defined as “including philosophical beliefs, such as humanism, which are considered to be similar to a religion. Other categories of beliefs, such as support for a political party, are not protected by the Equality Act.” This is not what this article is about.