Skills matter because they become part of how we increase our value. However, not all skills are equal. In some cases “mastery of a skill” pays greater than you can ever imagine possible. This blog will highlight one of the skills – Mastering Beliefs. I can tell you with 100% certainty that mastering this skill has allowed me to change lives and alter the path of entire business cultures. This blog is part one of Belief Mastery – understanding beliefs, why they matter and how they work. This is the “thinking part” of the mastery process. Part two will be the “application part” and will focus on integration strategies.
In essence, business is about two things – people and systems. I have found in years of experience that the people side tends to play a much bigger role in success and happiness in the business world. This is why I have always stressed the importance of understanding the basics of human behavior. One of the most basic areas of personal behavior to understand is BELIEFS. I do not believe you have to be an expert to master the “people component” of business. However, I do believe the better you understand human needs, beliefs and communication, the more your value will increase to better deal with all issues related to people.
Why Beliefs Matter
In addition to the need to understand your beliefs, it is critical to build the skill set to understand other’s beliefs. If you can understand what drives thinking, then you can learn how to influence it. Just about every communication you have with another is done for a person. One critical study out of UCLA on communication demonstrated that the most important aspect in communication is perception:
This means no matter what you say or how you say it, what matters are the conclusions made by the person listening to the communication. The conclusions and beliefs made by others that matter the most are their conclusions about your character, your value and your fit as it relates to a relationship with them. As it relates to individuals, that fit is a judgment about the value of a relationship with you. For a business, that judgment is about the value of being a part of their business culture. If you lose the “Battle for Perception” (which means that people are coming to the wrong conclusions about you), you often lose your ability to influence them to enter into a relationship of any nature. Perception matters and all this is at its core are the conclusions made when someone is listening to a messenger.
However, along with understanding the belief, you MUST understand the magnitude and interpretation of it. When it comes to interpretation, often you have to think one step beyond understanding a belief. That second step is understanding how that belief is interpreted and then applied. For example, let’s suppose I have a business culture whose core value is to go the extra mile for its customers. The extra mile is a “subjective term”. In other words, unless you understand the subjective component of how beliefs are interpreted, you really don’t fully understand how a belief impacts actions. The simple fact is that “going the extra mile” can be measured very differently and the magnitude of the difference can be huge. Therefore, the two questions you have to examine are:
1. What is the belief?
2. How is the belief interpreted?
The magnitude of beliefs goes back to a very simple principle – Not all beliefs are weighed the same. As you can see from the graph below, some beliefs are stored in the primal part of the brain and others are stored in auto pilot of the brain (the subconscious).
Often what determines the magnitude of one’s beliefs are habits and emotions because they are doors to impact in the subconscious. In the individual and with business cultures, these beliefs are called “Core Values”. They are called that because when the brain is on auto pilot, it is difficult to impact it with logic and reason. These beliefs can be easy to identify because they show up in everything. In essence, they become a big part of what an individual or business culture calls its “Identity”. What changes “core beliefs” are new habits and experiences fueled by greater emotions. If you try to change “Core Beliefs” through logic, you will find it almost impossible. I will explain more how to change or deal with beliefs in Part Two of this series when I delve into some strategies for using beliefs to grow and impact others.
How the Belief Process Works
Beliefs work as follows:
Step #1 = Living Life. In the process of living our lives we make conclusions. Whether those conclusions are adopted from others or whether they are our own conclusions, every individual in the world forms beliefs. Concepts like “we all become a product of our environment” are restatements of this reality.
Step #2 = Forming the Belief. In the context of living life, our beliefs are formed and changed constantly. These beliefs can be formed out of the environments and relationships we have in our lives or through our own examination of our thoughts.
Step #3 = Structure. When we form beliefs, we then build rules and structure to support them. Beliefs cannot exist without structure to support them. So often when we fall back to our old beliefs, it isn’t because we failed to form new ones, but more because we haven’t changed the structure that supports the old ones (i.e. running with the same peer group).
Step #4 – Actions. Actions are the activities that put our beliefs in motion. They are what turns thinking into results. One of the key components of maximizing our beliefs is to examine our results. Measurement of how beliefs play out is a critical part of the belief process. If you consistently see results that are different than you want in life, the first place to examine in order to identify the problem is beliefs, not strategies. Remember, all action is a byproduct of beliefs. This is why being a student of the reasons behind actions is the key part of the process of understanding the “Belief Component” of Human Behavior.
In closing, this should give you some structure to understand beliefs and how they impact your life. I believe understanding is the first step in mastery. The second step is integration and will be explained in Part Two of this blog. Whether you are examining your own beliefs or the beliefs of others, there are some very simple strategies that anyone can understand and utilize to begin the integration process for mastering this aspect of Human behavior. I will end with this statement: Mastering Beliefs as a skill set pays huge dividends. I have changed individual’s lives and altered the entire course of business cultures simply by understanding and being able to apply strategies related to beliefs. Most important, it is a skill set that has a positive impact on all areas of my life – business, my own growth, and relationships.
I look forward to sharing more on this subject in my next blog. In the meantime, I invite you to use the comment box below to share your thoughts, ideas, strategies on this topic.