Want to create lasting impact? You’d better believe it (just ask Andy Murray)

Sep 09, 2016

Top athletes are so closely matched in skill that what they believe is what makes the difference.

Watching Andy Murray win gold in Rio was a magic moment. Yet, when he was younger, Andy’s performance would crumble under pressure. His shots – and his temper – would become erratic. It was Andy’s shift in his mindset as much as his training that made him Olympic champion.

That’s what this article is about. Beliefs. And how to make them work for you, not against you.

The theory bit

We operate at different levels of being, shown in the pyramid below. Successful outcomes and people are aligned at all levels.

I work with clients on their purpose, values and beliefs because making changes at the top of the pyramid influences the lower levels. It is more effective than working from the bottom up.

Your beliefs matter

I recently shared how to use your purpose and values to achieve lasting success, but there’s another critical component. What we believe can reduce our impact. Or empower us to achieve great things.

Who is more likely to make a greater contribution: someone who thinks, ‘Other people are better than me’, or the person who believes, ‘I have a lot to offer’?

Your beliefs can limit you

What stories do you tell yourself? Are they inspiring and encouraging, enabling you to give the best of yourself? Or do you find some goals, situations or activities difficult because your inner voice speaks words of doubt?

I recently worked with Pedro, a director at a media agency. Pedro believes leadership is about being seen to deliver value for his company. He felt he didn’t have this visibility in leadership team meetings. He knew he could – and wanted to be – contributing more.

But Pedro’s beliefs were holding him back. He believed he should know about every area of the business. That his colleagues were more expert than him and he needed to know more. He felt he was living under a cloud.

What do you believe?

Think of a situation you currently find difficult. Or an activity you keep putting off. What is the ideal outcome for you in this area? Write down what you would like to achieve at the top of a piece of paper.

What do you believe in relation to this outcome? Make a note of everything that comes to mind, putting them in two columns below your goal. One for positive beliefs and one for less helpful ones.

What do you notice about the way you see the world?

Challenge your status quo

Left to their own devices, your disempowering beliefs can stop you from taking action. The first step forward is to test your beliefs and see them in a different light.

Of the less helpful beliefs you identified, pick the one you feel has the greatest negative impact right now.

  • What evidence do you have to support that belief? How valid is it?
  • Always? Never? Really? What generalisations are you making?
  • What stops you? How real or permanent is that barrier?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? In 2011, Andy Murray was hungry for the coveted Wimbledon trophy. He lost in the semi-final. But one match doesn’t define him. He got a new coach. He improved his game. In 2012, he won.
  • What impact is this belief having in relation to your goal? What is it costing you?

What did you learn by answering these questions?

Change your belief

We choose our beliefs. So we can change them. Not convinced? Think of a belief you used to hold but no longer do. As a child you were convinced Father Christmas was real. Now you know he’s a story, and you no longer hold that childhood belief.

Working for myself offers unique opportunities for fulfilment. Yet I used to believe running my own business was something I could never do. That I wouldn’t be able to make the money I needed on my own. So I chose to believe, ‘I am building a successful business that meets my financial needs’. What once seemed impossible is now a reality.

What do you need to believe to get the results you want?

Look back at the outcome you want and that belief that is getting in the way. What belief would serve you better?

Pedro had believed he needed to be an expert to add value in leadership meetings. He chose a new belief that he, ‘adds value in leadership meetings by challenging assumptions, offering a fresh perspective and focusing on moving the business forward’.

These questions can help you be clear about the changes you want to make:

  • What do you need to believe to get where you want to be?
  • How will you know you believe it? What will be different?
  • How aligned is this new belief with your values, identity and purpose?

Make a note of your new belief as a clear, positive affirmation, written in the present tense – as if it’s happening now.

Try your new belief on for size

For the next week, whenever you notice your unhelpful belief, replace it with your new affirmation. Act as if it’s true and notice how your thoughts, feelings and outlook change.

Pedro’s took his new belief for a test drive at the next leadership team meeting. With his new mindset, the solutions proved to be simple.

He noticed that the meetings were mainly status updates, with no real focus on moving the business forward. So Pedro shaped a focused agenda. He only needs to know enough to question and offer a fresh perspective. So he takes half an hour to get up to speed with key stories.

How are things different for you?

If you’re clear about your purpose and you choose beliefs that make you powerful, then you can create the lasting impact that matters to you.

How was it trying out your new belief? How has this impacted on the outcome you want?

Pedro’s new way of working means he is achieving his leadership goal, as he is being seen to deliver value in leadership team meetings. Now his colleagues look to him to chair the meetings, which are more effective.

Remember Pedro feeling like he was under a cloud? After shifting his beliefs, he said, ‘I now feel as if anything can be accomplished or overcome’.

Build on your success

Make your new belief part of your mindset. NLP is a powerful way to help you do this. If you’ve found the exercises in this article useful and want to dig a little deeper, you might like to use the tools in Need to Know? NLP.

Harness the power of your positive beliefs. How can you make these work harder for you? How will you use them to increase your impact?

Did this article has resonate with you? Would you like to contribute more but feel something is getting in the way? Then I’d love to hear from you. You can email Clare to ask a question or arrange a free coaching consultation.

You can also sign up to Leadership Perspectives. Once a month(ish), I share news, insights and resources to help people who are on their journey to creating lasting impact. If you find it’s not for you, you can unsubscribe any time.

About Clare

Clare helps people who want to create a lasting impact in their business, community and society. She works with business leaders who are committed to giving all they have but feel they could be doing more. Through leadership coaching she encourages, inspires and challenges her clients to get the results they want, enabling them realise their own and their organisation's untapped potential.

You can find out more at www.true-leadership.co.uk

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