How do you validate your beliefs?

Depending on the weather forecast, you’re probably pretty confident that you’ll see the sun in the next few days. Because you believe that, you might plan for activities that are best done in the light of day, and so you validate your beliefs.

Why are you so confident? It’s likely because you’ve seen the sun out many days of your life, and you can predict that it will happen again. This may apply more to residents of Reykjavik, Iceland, than those in Tucson, Arizona. But, the sun would still rise.

Can we agree that the presence of the sun is a likelihood?

Beliefs not supported by facts

Yet some people hold beliefs that are not supported by the facts around them. These beliefs then lead them to behave in ways that don’t serve them well in the long run. Our beliefs are powerful drivers in our lives.

For example, I’ve been a business traveller for over 25 years. For many of those years, one of my beliefs was “I work hard. I love food. I can eat anything I want to while on the road.” I lived out my beliefs by ordering cheeseburgers, fries, ice cream, fried chicken, and more.

Then my doctor would say, “You’re too heavy and too fat. You’re killing yourself.” She was right. I’d start exercising more or eating healthier foods—for a while. Then my true beliefs would take over and I’d eat unhealthy foods and gain weight again.

Changing beliefs

I had to change my belief since it wasn’t working for me. My belief originally was:  “I love food and work hard so I can eat what I want.” I made a simple but significant change to “I work hard. I love food. I can eat anything that fuels my best self while on the road.” Now, more often than not, you’ll see me eating lean proteins and vegetables, very little dairy, nothing fried, and nothing “white” (flours and starches).

The result? I’ve lost 25 pounds and kept it off. I wear clothes in sizes I haven’t seen since college. I’ve had to get belts, rings, watches, etc. resized smaller. I feel great. My blood panels are better than they’ve been in decades.

The same thing holds for my clients. Some of their beliefs and resulting behaviours serve them very well. Some do not.

Beliefs in the workplace

Specifically, most business leaders believe that their job is to manage processes and results. So, that’s what they do. They spend all of their time on results and very little time – if any, on the work environment and organizational culture. They don’t believe that culture is that important when instead, it drives everything that happens, good or bad.

An unhealthy culture causes people to serve themselves, not others. They withhold information. They bully others. Everyone is miserable.

So, my first step with any client is to educate leaders to change their beliefs about the impact of culture on business success and take responsibility for creating a healthy workplace culture.

I have to help develop and if necessary, change their beliefs and own that it is their job to build a high-performing, values-aligned culture daily.

Validate your beliefs

Find indisputable facts about your reality and decide what is true. Change your beliefs when it’s clear that your behaviours do not serve you, or others well.

How are your beliefs working out for you? Do your beliefs serve others as well as they serve you?

  • About the Author
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S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration.

He writes books and articles and records podcasts.

In his free time, he’s a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.