Validate your beliefs

Sunrise over the ocean in Miami Beach, Florida.“The sun will rise tomorrow.” If you believe that, you might plan for activities that are best done in the light of day.

Why might you believe that? It’s likely because the reality of sunrise and sunset in your past experience allows you to predict the sun rising tomorrow.

Now, you might have fewer sunlight hours if you lived in Reykjavik, Iceland, than if you lived in Tucson, Arizona. But, the sun would rise.

If stormy weather is happening in your neighborhood, you might not have as bright a sunshine as on a clear day. But the sun would rise, above the clouds.

Yet some people hold beliefs that are not supported by the reality around them. The facts don’t support their beliefs. Their beliefs lead them to behave in ways that don’t serve them well in the long run.

Our beliefs are powerful drivers in our lives. Beliefs cause us to behave in ways that are consistent with those beliefs, even if our behavior doesn’t result in desired outcomes over time.

For example, I’ve been a business traveler 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.” If you observed my behaviors, you’d have seen me order 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 more healthy foods. Then my beliefs would take over and I’d eat unhealthy foods and gain weight.

I had to change my belief since it clearly wasn’t working for me. My belief over the past six years has been “I work hard. I love food. I can eat anything that fuels my best self while on the road.” I eat lean proteins and vegetables. I eat very little dairy, nothing fried, and nothing “white” (flours and starches).

I’ve lost 25 pounds and kept it off. I wear clothes sizes that I’ve been unable to fit in 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.

My clients have beliefs that they align to every day. Some of their beliefs and resulting behaviors serve them very well. Some do not.

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 little time – if any – on the quality of their work environment and organizational culture.

Yet culture drives everything that happens in their organization, good or bad.

An unhealthy culture causes people to treat others rudely. People behave in ways that serve themselves, not others. They withhold information. They bully others.

My first step with any client is to educate leaders so they understand the impact of culture on business success as well as their primary responsibility to create a healthy workplace culture.

I have to help those leaders validate their beliefs – and to change their beliefs if their behaviors don’t work well. I coach leaders to believe it is their job to build a high performing, values-aligned culture daily.

So, this year, validate your beliefs. Find indisputable facts about your reality. For my food belief, I embraced the body mass index metric. For leaders, measure engagement and service as well as results.

Change your beliefs when it’s clear that your behaviors do not serve you – or others – well.

Every day.

How are your beliefs working out for you? Do your beliefs serve others as well as they serve yourself? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © avmedved – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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