Do you live like you believe? It is kind of a trick question because there is only one possible answer: yes, you do. We all do. At times you may not even live the way you want, but you always live the way you believe. Does your company or department or team function like you believe it will? Same answer, yes. Sometimes we do things because someone else believes we can, and then we do it until we begin to believe it ourselves, but action still follows belief.
Before I became the professional I am today, I was very unprofessional. Before I joined the US Navy in 1990, I had a hard time holding a job. I couldn’t grasp the whole “show up to work every day” and “show up on time” concepts. A few years in the Navy and I didn’t have the problem — a few weeks, really, and I was cured of that. But when I got out and people stopped telling me what to do and when to do it, I had to self-motivate. I was late for work all the time, or didn’t show up because I didn’t believe I was worthy of employment. It took a long time of coaching and reading books and a lot of self-reflection before I started to put more value on what I was believing rather than what I was doing.
Back to the first question, do you live like you believe? As you have been reading this, you may have been stuck on that question and the proceeding answer. Do you believe you are a good leader? Do you believe you can win the game? A lot of pre-game speeches are around belief — why? Belief is an extremely deep philosophical and psychological subject about which numerous books have been written. My point in bringing it up is that belief precedes actions. If you do not believe you can win, most likely, you won’t. If you do not believe you are a good leader, most likely you won’t be.
A lot of time is spent on creating schedules, which really means that a lot of time is spent on what we do. If belief precedes actions, shouldn’t time be spent solidifying what we believe before we get into any specific action? I have always wanted my own business. It’s funny how little motivation want musters. If want was the driver of our actions, we would all be different people today. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want. When we were younger we may have wanted things that were, in the long run, bad for us. Want is more based upon circumstance but belief supersedes circumstance. Want can easily be shut down by a naysayer, but it is very difficult to sway someone who believes something. In order to change belief, there has to be a heart level change but once the heart is changed to believe something, there is little one can do to stop the effort, or actions, that follow the belief.
How can we apply this as leaders and influencers? Well, to put it simply, work first on building a belief plan before you begin an action plan for your team. What exactly is a belief plan? A belief plan is a plan that is established, working alongside the team, to confirm and affirm what you collectively believe. In the healthcare industry, we believe that what we do every day impacts patient care. Even in the IT department we believe this, and beyond that, in housekeeping, in engineering, in food services, and in all departments we have a fundamental belief that what we do every day impacts patient care. Once this belief is established, all tasks that are assigned are completed with the belief that it impacts patient care. That is so incredibly powerful and motivating for individuals. This reminds people, especially during difficult times, that there is something larger at stake. It motivates us to push through when challenges are stacked against you.
Can belief waver or weaken? Yes! It is important as leaders to keep the belief plan active and top of mind. Review it in staff meetings. Send it in emails. Write it on the walls of the workplace. Keep belief in front of you at all times so your actions will follow appropriately. If belief wavers too far, then want creeps in. We don’t need want; we need belief for our teams (and believe me, they want to believe too).
Before I started to believe in myself, I only wanted what I wanted. When I started to believe, then I could dream. A friend of mine runs a local company, and in the large conference room, there is a dream wall where all employees write down their dreams for the company. Some are trite and cute, others are big and audacious, but none of them will ever come true without believing they can. And it’s not just about words; they put together dream teams where employees are paired up to work on first believing in their dreams and then going after it. What are your dreams for your organizations, your department, your team, your life? There is no way any meaningful action will take place unless you first believe.
Write down a dream. Write down that you believe that dream can come true. Then write down one, just one, thing you can do today as part of that action plan that reflects your belief.