Special thanks to Mike Bown, Master NLP Practitioner, for his valuable contributions to this post.
Beliefs define the limits of our lives. On some level, we all know this, right? Beliefs determine our thoughts (about ourselves and others), our thoughts determine our decisions; our decisions determine our actions, and our actions determine our results. In short, Beliefs > Thoughts > Decisions > Actions > Results.
From a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) perspective, the Environment is the context for our Behavior, which is a product of our Capabilities, and leads to Beliefs, which are validated thoughts, the sum of which become our identity, which exists within a System. Environment > Behavior > Capabilities > Beliefs > Identity > System.
The strength (and unique approach) of Invitational Leadership™ is that it recognizes the limitations of each level and can intervene at any level. Said another way, the Invitational Leader is able to meet the employee, team or organizations (learners) where they are and invite and lead them to higher potentials of performance.
As a child do you recall being filled with curiosity, excitement and fascination? Most of my beliefs at the time were boundless, which yielded the potential for both risk and reward. My parents would attest to the former as I was continually pushing the boundaries of exploration as well as the fringes of my parent’s patience. As I grew into adolescence my boundaries became more narrow and defined. As an adult, my awareness, life experiences and knowledge have dramatically expanded. As a result, I am continually challenging my own beliefs and seeking new and more innovative (creative) ways to elevate my own higher potential and performance.
Our reality is defined by our beliefs and is a function of what we project and perceive as reality as opposed to reality itself. Mike and I discussed this metaphor from Michael Neill. “The mind is much less like a camera and more like a projector. Mind is the source of all life and energy (we are plugged into it from day one). Consciousness is like the projector bulb. And thought is like the projected images on the screen of reality. We look out at the images on the screen, and just like in a good movie, we identify with the characters and, at least for a while, take those images to be the truth. And then, we forget that we created the whole personal experience and believe it is permanent and pervasive reality. So, our perspectives and perceptual senses create all of our experience – based on our projections – and not what is really out there.”
In 1899, the then chief of the U.S. Patent Office proposed closing it down. He said, “Everything that can be invented already has been.” Talk about limiting beliefs. This was just a few years short of the Wright Brothers’ flight. I wonder how the Wright Brothers’ beliefs influenced their vision for what was possible. I wonder how the mind-set of the former chief of the U.S. Patent Office might have perceived the Wright Brothers’ beliefs about flight.
We are less than a month away from the New Year. I am extending an invitation to you to bypass the traditional abyss of New Year Resolutions. Most are ephemeral and tend to diminish our self-confidence and self-esteem when they are not met. Instead, I challenge you to begin thinking now about your beliefs and how those beliefs have influenced your life this past year. Remember, too, that it may be less important what you think, and more important that you think.
My recent article on Habits and Emotions was the most widely read and popular of all posts year-to-date. I’d like to think it was valuable content. However, even more likely, is the prospect that our habits not only influence our emotions, but our beliefs as well. Regardless, the topic clearly resonated with many of you.
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.” – Buddha
Knowing that we don’t even have to believe our own thoughts means that a better experience is always just a new thought away. It is the way of clarity.
Tips and Practical Applications:
- Reading this post will not yield anything more than some momentary inspiration or short-lived reflection. Consider inviting someone that knows you well to engage in a meaningful conversation about beliefs in the context of your life. Ask them to share their beliefs in this context as well. Compare notes to see if there may be any adjustments that need to be made in your beliefs to better resource and serve your life.
- Explore the abundance of resources on the topic of beliefs. For example, I am currently reading an excellent book on self-esteem and using it to reflect on how my habits and beliefs may impact self-confidence and self-esteem – situationally or categorically. Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving & Maintaining Your Self-Esteem. McKay, PhD and Fanning, 2016. Mike strongly recommends The Space Within by Michael Neill for further exploration of the inside-out understanding and value. Both books are available in Kindle editions.
- Take an inventory of how beliefs may have impacted your life in the past. It is important to not only include those times when beliefs may have been limiting, but also those beliefs that served you well and led to even better outcomes than otherwise expected. Review your inventory and consider how upgrading some outdated beliefs (thoughts that you are projecting) might improve your life.
About Mike Bown: Mike is a Master Practitioner of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programing) with hundreds of hours of advanced training in coaching, consulting and training. In Mike’s words, “In my working life I am witness to my clients’ discoveries of their own magnificence and provide them the tools to live and work from that place. I seek to expand my clients’ innate potential and possibilities.” Mike’s specialties: Belief and Identity-level exploration, behavioral modeling (for performance enhancement), training and dependable states of excellence.
The Power of Invitational Leadership™,
The Impact of Emergent Innovations
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