False Beliefs

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“The obstacle in the path becomes the path.  Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” – Zen

What holds us back is our beliefs about our reality.  Beliefs lead us to action.  These actions are sometimes good and sometimes bad.  Your beliefs about money, people, the world, your past, the obstacle and the pain you face will inform your actions moving forward.

In his book “The Obstacle Is The Way” – Ryan Holiday outlines the importance of individuals creating discipline and focus in several key areas:

  • Recognize Your Power
  • Practice Objectivity
  • Alter Your Perspective
  • Live In The Present Moment

We have the power to control our emotions, change our beliefs and pursue a positive outcome.  You have the power to choose.  You have the power to take action.

We also have the ability to stay objective.  For example – “The deadline that came my way makes me angry.” The deadline is objective – you have a deadline.  The subjectivity is that you are becoming angry.  You have a choice.  It is not bad or good it just is.

As I work with individual clients and teams, quite frequently what impacts their performance, job satisfaction and business results is not ability, it is a set of false beliefs that impacts the deployment of that ability into action.

Take a look at the table below, which captures the many false beliefs I regularly hear from my clients:


                                       False Belief                                                 True Belief
I have to be perfect I am in process, learning and improving
If I assert myself, I will get fired Asserting myself can demonstrate value and is vital to my leadership integrity
If I make a mistake, it will be my last I learn from failure and mistakes – it’s part of the process.  I move forward.
Sharing observations means I am complaining Sharing observations is valuable
I cannot give feedback to my boss I can give feedback to my boss – he / she probably does not get enough of it
If I lose this deal, I will not get another one There are millions of deals out there, the next deal could be even better
I will not be able to recover I will be able to recover because I persevere no matter what
I cannot manage the stress I can manage more than I think and stress is a tool leading me to success
I am at capacity I have greater capacity than I realize
I am responsible for the emotions of others They are responsible for their emotional response
Feedback is an indictment on my value as a person Feedback is a tool used to help you get closer to your vision and goals
I must have the approval of my boss Boss approval is nice, it must start with my own approval


As you consider these false beliefs, what behaviors often correspond with these false beliefs? For example:  Holding fast to the belief that I have to be perfect, will often lead to action that keeps you from enjoying the process of learning and could hinder you from taking risks.  The false belief that says “If I lose this deal, I will not get another one.” – puts inordinate pressure on the current deal and keeps you from having perspective on the loads of other opportunities that are out there.

Start by taking out a blank sheet of paper and create a “T-Chart” – “False Beliefs” on the left and “True Beliefs” on the right.  Start with an audit of your own belief system.

False beliefs are powerful mechanisms that impact our leadership behavior.  It is vital that you monitor these self-beliefs and seek a truer belief to keep you moving toward your vision.  In essence, false beliefs create emotional drag that hinder you from differentiating leadership.