Belief: It’s a tiny word but a powerful force in determining whether entrepreneurs succeed or fail.
I see it all the time: Those who have an unwavering belief in themselves, their worth and their offering achieve much more than those who are riddled with doubts and negative beliefs. Entrepreneurs can have the best strategies and plans in the world, but if they don’t believe in themselves and their offering, they’re more likely to give up or to fail.
We all carry negative beliefs about ourselves: Some we adopt when influential people don’t believe in us, others seep in when someone questions our skills and abilities. Some of us are held back by a paralyzing fear of judgment, of failure and — paradoxically — of success.
These beliefs take root early, run deep and affect all parts of our lives. The process of unpicking them can be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it — shift your beliefs and you’ll see your results soar. Let them lie and they’ll be the biggest barriers to your business success.
Here are five belief-shifting strategies that made the biggest difference to my business and to countless others:
1. Identify and rewrite negative beliefs.
Your limiting beliefs are the nasty, often critical thoughts that arise when you’re trying something different. To paraphrase James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh, belief always precedes action, so reframing those debilitating, negative thoughts is essential to making your dreams come true.
List any negative beliefs playing on repeat in your brain. If nothing comes to mind, think of times when you’ve told yourself you can’t do something. Tune into the reason you believed at the time and write it down.
Once you’ve drawn up the list, identify the voice behind each belief. Does it belong to a family member, teacher, bully, boss or friend? Go through your list, point by point, and remind yourself: “This is not my voice. This is not my belief.”
Put a positive spin on those beliefs by reframing them so they sound like compliments. Use them to create a list of all the things you believe are great about you, and why. For example, you may constantly be thinking: “Who am I to be selling/making/teaching XYZ?” Turn that negative belief into a positive one by replacing it with: “Only I have my combination of skills and experience, so only I can deliver XYZ my way, to my people. They need my support.”
Read those new beliefs out loud to yourself and let them seep in. Be grateful for your strengths and know that these new beliefs are true. Use your new beliefs to create positive affirmations and repeat them daily. Before you know it, those limiting beliefs will have been replaced by positive, supportive ones.
2. Find good role models.
Role modelling isn’t a new concept, but it’s a powerful one. A role model offers a representation of what is possible. Yet, in the quest to be original, many people miss the chance to learn from others who’ve achieved great things.
A workplace study published in Psychology Today demonstrated that having adult role models “directly impacts not only how you perceive yourself but, just as importantly, how others perceive you.”
Think about a person you admire who may be doing what you want to or achieving the success you crave. Write down her name and the characteristics you admire.
Imagine you are that person, and that you exhibit every one of her positive characteristics. In your moments of doubt, ask yourself what your role model would do. When you start looking for those qualities within yourself, you’ll find them. Gradually, you’ll evolve into a new version of you — one that you can believe in.
3. Change your thoughts.
You create your thoughts; they don’t create you. You have the power to change anything that no longer serves you, including a negative belief system. As a motivational speaker, Dr Wayne Dyer’s hugely popular book proclaims: Change your thoughts and you really will change your life.
When you become aware of a negative thought, visualize yourself physically removing it and replacing it with a new one. You might choose to make an erasing motion or a deleting “swipe.” Make a conscious choice to eliminate that thought and replace it with something positive.
Serial entrepreneur Trevor Blake suggests focusing on the specific language you choose; are you engaging in negative self-talk that’s dragging you down? Be intentional about every word that enters your mind and comes out of your mouth.
I can’t talk about shifting the way you think without mentioning the power of a regular gratitude practice. A 2017 study by researchers at Indiana University demonstrated that gratitude actually changes the brain, seems to have long-lasting effects and “unshackles you from toxic emotions.”
Cultivating gratitude, generosity and kindness is not only good for you, it’s also good for business. Celebrate every success. Be grateful for every win. More are coming.
4. Change your actions.
Just as you can control your thoughts, you can also control your actions. Your physical behaviours affect how you feel about yourself and how you show up in your business. Be intentional with every move.
In the late 19th century, psychologist William James hypothesized that the flow between emotion and behaviour goes both ways. Acting like you believe in yourself will help you believe, and vice versa. Since then, numerous studies have reached the same conclusions: When we act more confident, empowered and successful, we become those things.
Create a list of simple shifts you can make to your current behaviours that will change how you feel. Try dressing in a way that makes you feel great, carrying yourself with good posture to feel strong and powerful, sharing your successes, celebrating every win, reading and learning (always), and delivering what you say you will and being proud of your work.
5. Find your reason to believe.
Let’s face it: Acknowledging and celebrating why you should believe in yourself is difficult for anyone with a negative belief system because the system itself is screaming “DON’T BELIEVE!”
Motivational speaker Brian Tracy articulated it perfectly: “The hardest thing to do in life is to accept how extraordinary you really can be, believe in yourself, and then to incorporate this awareness into your attitude and personality.”
But, that shift right there? That’s the one that will help you soar to success.
Start by writing a list of small, easy actions that can trigger you believing in yourself more. Put them in your calendar and stick to them. Then do one of those things every single day, without fail. When you’ve done it, celebrate. Every one of those small choices is worth celebrating and they work every time.
The road to self-belief, and by extension to business success, isn’t easy. But, each of these small actions can help you to rewrite your own belief system, which in turn will help you to achieve far more with your business.
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