Be careful of what you believe

I believe that what you believe is a large determinant of what you achieve. The amount that you can help yourself or improve yourself or succeed is directly related to your beliefs about what is or is not possible.

What you believe is a result of what you have learned from a complex mix of parents, friends, teachers, relatives, heroes, religions, TV, books, films and experience. But what you believe is much more often determined by all the things in that list except experience. We believe what we are told about what is possible or not possible. “Life isn’t like that”.

We can’t test everything for ourselves, so we do have to take some of this on board in order to function. I’m told that Ecstasy is dangerous. I don’t know if it is or not. I hear that smoking can damage your health. I’m not sure if that is true or not. But on the basis that I am not interested in either experience, this information is of only marginal value to me. On the other hand I am interested in a belief like “You can’t change the way a Government thinks” because, if that is true, one of my businesses can’t work!

I am advocating a brand new idea – belief self awareness. Know what you think you know. Understand what you think you understand. In my experience many of our beliefs are built on very flimsy foundations. It’s just that we have lived with them for so long that we have forgotten what is holding them up. It is most likely they are what is holding you up!

Clearly there are real physical and other constraints in every situation. Whatever your aspirations you always have to start where you are. If you want to be athletic and muscular, but you are a couch potato and over 50 then you may never win an Olympic Gold Medal. But never say never. There will be things that you cannot change, the well known Serenity Prayer advises “Grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. The nub here is the wisdom to know the difference. Recognising what can and cannot be done – deciding what is possible or not is the key decision that determines any level of achievement or success. Columbus decided that the earth was not flat and, as a result, he discovered a new world. Most people believed his ship would fall off the end of a flat earth. This belief must have made them very reluctant to get on Columbus’s boat.

In my view, what you believe determines absolutely what is in your world, it defines what is possible or not. So be aware of your beliefs – the small ones and the big ones. Think about your big beliefs and think about your small beliefs. Do you believe the lawn should be cut once a week? Why? Do you believe people should get married? Why? Do you believe that bacon and ice cream don’t go together? Do you think you are too old, don’t have enough time, don’t have the right people, don’t know the right people? Why?

Start with what you believe. You don’t believe me? That’s probably one of your problems. Buy a copy of Design for Life™. It will help you find out what you believe and how it is affecting what you achieve. Go on. It must be worth a punt.

John Cornbill