IF you want better results in your life, understand first that no one else can make things better for you. Your actions will determine the results that life gives you.
Your actions are generally founded on your belief structure. And, your beliefs are very important as they are powerful. Often, they affect you beyond normal conscious control.
I know people who are adamant that if they get even slightly wet in the rain, they will catch a cold. They believe this, and it always happens to them. I have always found it interesting, that conversely, footballers often play in the rain, and do not catch a cold.
Sometime back I stumbled on a study of a hundred people who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, but were still alive over 10 years later. The one common factor in all the survivors was not the type of treatment they had, but the belief that the treatment would work for them.
Their belief that the treatment would work, dramatically affected the way their bodies reacted to the cancer. They defied the odds, and survived.
Studies on the placebo effect also reinforce the idea of ‘belief’. A placebo is a substance containing no medication given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well.
In her book, “Brain Sense”, researcher Faith Brynie says that the placebo cure rate is as high as 72%. She goes on to say that many studies show that the placebo effect is not deception, or a fluke. Instead, it is a product of expectation. The human brain anticipates certain outcomes, and because that belief is so strong, the desired outcome is produced.
This reinforces the fact that ‘belief’ is vital to the human mind. Both the cancer research and the placebo studies show that if you belief in something strong enough, it will happen.
So, to be successful at anything we do, we must have belief. And of all the ‘beliefs’ we develop, self-belief is critical. People with self-belief have qualities that we admire. They are confident and competent.
People with high levels of self-belief also encourage confidence in others. To become successful, we need to inspire and engage people around us. The biggest contributor to self-belief is our confidence in our ability.
As we master skills and gain expertise in any given field, we gain confidence. And as we sense that we are competent at what we do, our self-belief increases.
While positive thinking has a role in the development of our self-belief, setting and achieving goals helps us build confidence and competence.
Through my work, I have learnt that the key component to developing self-belief is being confident that the end result you want, is possible. You need to be able to say with total conviction “it really is possible for me to achieve this goal”.
Early in my entrepreneurial life, I had a partner in one of my businesses. To be frank, I had a torrid relationship with this guy. At the time, I found it virtually impossible to cope with his demands. He was over-bearing, and a tad crass, for my liking.
However, being the junior partner in the business, I had to put up with his antics. Suffice to say, that my partnership with him did not withstand the test of time, and within a few years I opted for a different path, away from him.
While it was a very testing time for me, the one crucial learning I had from this relationship was the power of self-belief. In the face of all adversity, my partner would insist that we could do what we set out to do. My experience, knowledge and gut-feel would say otherwise. But he would insist it was possible. And I realised he truly believed that it was possible. This self-belief led to successful outcomes for our business.
Having self-belief facilitates finding creative solutions. When you approach a goal at the workplace with “disbelief” you will feel anxiety and your thinking gets clouded by this. Naturally, finding solutions becomes less probable when you feel this way.
Conversely, when you approach a goal or a problem at work with self-belief, my experience is that you are able to think clearly. This clarity stimulates better reasoning and ignites your memory more effectively. Above all, I tend to get more creative when I approach an issue with the belief that I can overcome it.
In my experience most people who lack self-belief have a strong inclination to filter out the positive aspects about themselves. Consciously work on identifying and acknowledging your results and strengths. A lot of psychological programmes that help raise a person’s self-esteem focus on getting people to list out their accomplishments.
Next, stop comparing yourself to others. It is a futile and losing battle. Because no matter how good you are at something, in this world, you will always find somebody who is better than you. So do not sabotage your own self-belief.
And finally, be a life-long learner and continually aim to better yourself. Focus on your self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to your belief in your capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific results. Confidence always comes when you are competent. So work on increasing your competency.
As your self-believe increases, so does your value!
*Shankar R. Santhiram is a managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”