The Uber driver pulled up, saw our roller bags and exclaimed, “I’m so sorry! My trunk is filled with my gear!” I initially wondered why she would have agreed to take us to the airport, knowing her trunk was full. But, after easily placing our bags in the front seat, she explained she was in the Army band and needed to keep her gear with her at all times. She spoke more about her military career and shared that she had also chosen to attend “jump school,” where she learned to parachute out of planes. It had been a pivotal experience in her life. In spite of being injured in a jump, she emphatically declared she would do it all over again. This single choice had changed her perception of herself, increased her confidence, and allowed her to see she could expand beyond the limitations she had previously placed on herself.
It’s easy to see how our beliefs affect our choices. If we believe people are innately good, we are more easily trusting and helpful toward others. If we believe hard work will pay off, we apply ourselves and are willing to study or work extra hours in order to reach our goals. But this cause and effect relationship can also work in reverse – we can just as easily affect our beliefs by the choices we make.
If we make a choice in our relationships – personal or business – that doesn’t turn out well, we might easily start to believe we can’t trust ourselves to make wise decisions, or that honest, trustworthy partners don’t exist. That belief will then fuel other choices – not to open our hearts or engage in other collaborative efforts. Instead, if we formed the belief that this particular person wasn’t the right choice or we weren’t a good fit, our future choices might be very different. It makes it important to question any conclusion we draw from our experiences.
Many times we want to make a certain choice, but lurking in the wings and ready to derail our good intentions is a limiting belief we aren’t even aware of. We might choose to take on a leadership role but inwardly believe we’re too introverted to succeed. We might choose to begin an exercise program but secretly hold the belief that we don’t have the determination to stick to it. Although some beliefs seem grounded in our values and therefore set in stone, most are simply subjective thoughts. When our beliefs don’t support the choice we want to make, we are doomed to fail.
A very helpful step when we want to make a new choice in our lives is to explore the beliefs we have about it. What is the evidence for these beliefs? When we find a disempowering belief, we can ask ourselves what else we can believe that will make it more likely for us to be successful. Instead of believing we are too introverted to be a good leader, we can recognize that many successful leaders are introverts who bring significant strengths to leadership, such as greater inclusiveness and engagement of their team. How will that change our attitude toward becoming a leader? What new thoughts and feelings might that generate? As we experience the internal shifts by changing our belief, we can sense our commitment to our new choice growing stronger.
What new choices would you like to make? How much more exciting, fulfilling, or interesting would your life become, once you let go of limiting beliefs and find more empowering beliefs to support your new choices and success?