In Beliefs, Change, Leaders

“Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different.” – Katherine Mansfield

We’ve talked in this space before about beliefs and attitude, about how your beliefs about whatever situation you’re confronted with dictate your behavior in that situation, which leads to a predictable result. It’s true in every facet of our lives, personal or professional – our beliefs, our attitudes, drive the outcomes.

Yet so many people, even those who claim to be leaders, seem to prefer working on just about anything else. They’ll spend hours poring over various reports, or brainstorming opportunities for growth. They’ll call for and lead countless meetings, regularly start up new initiatives, work to mitigate risks to their business. Very rarely do people spend time assessing their beliefs, much less trying to change them.

Think about a situation or an event that has recently happened in your business. Maybe you lost a big customer, maybe a key member of your team left for a competitor, maybe something else. Think about that event and ask yourself, “What did I believe when that event happened?” For example, if you lost a key member of your team, your belief could be that it’s not a big problem because you have confidence in your organization’s ability to attract & develop talent. Alternatively, you belief could be that since you’ve lost that key person the whole business is going to fall apart, whatever will we do without that person, it’s going to be a disaster, etc.

Can you see how those beliefs would drive different behavior? The positive one could cause you to implement your recruiting process with energy and focus. The negative one could to negativity, wasted energy on blaming someone for that person’s exit, stress about what to do next, etc.

It seems overly simple, but the reality is that this happens every day. As a leader you’re faced with some kind of activating event constantly. And I’ve seen over and over that what the leader’s attitude is about that event will dictate how the organization responds. It’s not just your behavior you’re driving – as the leader, you’re driving (up or down) the behavior of everybody else too.

So today when something happens in your organization that demands a response, don’t rush into action. Stop and take a deep breath, and think about what you really believe about the situation. If it’s not positive, take some time to work on changing that belief. Maybe it’s just a matter of awareness, or maybe it’s about positive self-talk, or maybe you need consistent reinforcement from those around you. Whatever the case, just remember that the action you’re about to take is driven by what you believe – so change that first.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Wayne Lockhart

    So very true Matt. When faced with an at-first negative situation, by then choosing to turn negative thoughts into a list of positives, one can feel the brain changing gear; it’s like flicking a switch from Off to On. One must remember to keep it switched in the On position going forward however.

    • Matt Heemstra

      Your last comment is the best part ‘…keep it switched in the On position going forward…’ It’s so easy to shut it Off each time. One of the best ways to keep it On is to surround yourself with other people whose switches are always On. Thanks Wayne!

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