A Sunday morning ritual I have come to enjoy starts with a 2 hour coffee and reading session at my favorite Starbucks store. Typically I’ll be among the first to arrive and I leave when the crowd starts to come in. The store I visit is in the Heavenly Village which is kept clean and tidy by a diligent crew of people headed by my friend Jose, who is the head of the Village maintenance team.
A couple of years ago a friend of mine, Hank, who usually joins me for coffee and is fluent in Spanish befriended Jose and in the course of conversation suggested that he should buy a house because there were some good deals going. At the time Jose said “oh that’s way out of my reach, I couldn’t afford that. No-one in my family own their house.”
Hank told him that he was sure he would qualify for a loan. He had a steady job that he had held for several years during which time he had been given a couple of promotions and he had managed to save some money that would serve as a deposit. Hank also told him he’d help with the paperwork associated with the loan application and would accompany him to the bank if he wished.
So Jose decided to give it a go.
The outcome was that he did get a loan pre-approval. He did buy a house and his life has been changed.
The big story here is not what a good guy Hank was (though that is a fact), nor is it that Jose got himself a home that’s costing him less to buy that he was paying in rent, nor is it the fact that the value of the home has increased quite nicely since he bought it.
The big story is how this simple little transaction has dramatically changed Jose’s mindset.
When I spoke with him last Sunday he told me that two years ago he believed that he would never own his own home. That was “not something we ever believed to be a possibility in our family” he said. He then said words to the effect of “what I’ve learnt is that maybe anything is possible but I never believed owning a house was possible for me.” What really moved me to share this experience in a blog post is this … Jose said “I now believe that my kids can and will go to college which is something I never considered to be a possibility before.”
This is a lesson for all of us. Our beliefs are what hold us back from realizing our full potential. Beliefs like: “I don’t have time to do such and such”, beliefs like “my clients are not interested in this type of service”, beliefs like “you can’t hire talented people any more”, beliefs like “the only way to make more money is to work harder”, beliefs like “I can’t charge what I’m worth because all my clients would walk”, beliefs like “if I let the bottom 20% of my clients go I will never be able to replace the revenue”, beliefs like “I can’t afford to give my team too much client contact because they might steal them”, beliefs like “I have the highest charge rate so I can’t afford to be wasting my valuable time developing team members, they need to step up to the plate and acquire the skills just like I did.” You may be able to add to this list.
Your beliefs play a huge role in determining the intensity (and direction) of the action you take on any particular initiative. Your beliefs impact the results you get in two ways. First, they cause you to lack confidence in your ability (skill) and secondly, they moderate the level of intensity you inject into your actions.
If you do not believe in your heart that you will prevail with a challenging opportunity you will be half-hearted in your action. This will be reflected in the results you get which serves to confirm your limiting beliefs (that the challenge is beyond your ability) which you will be able to rationalize as being the result of a set of external circumstances beyond your control or that you or your team just don’t have the ability to achieve the desired outcome ….. and the status quo prevails.
The figure above summarizes how I think it plays out. Results are both a cause and consequence of your beliefs. By that I mean, if you consider results to be part of your feedback loop then anything less than your desired outcome is a learning experience, this serves to improve your skill level (this is how we learn and always have, it’s called trial and error) which in turn reinforces your belief that “you can do this!” Alternatively, a successful outcome confirms your positive belief which serves to move you forward with renewed confidence and intense action which in turn leads to superior results and the positive spiral continues.
The bottom line here is simply this: change your beliefs and everything else will change for you. This is exactly what happened for Jose. It is also exactly what can happen for you and your clients. The most valuable service you can offer to clients who are locked in a time warp of mediocrity is to help them change their beliefs about their ability and the opportunities they could pursue.