The Devastating Impacts of Our Limiting Beliefs!

I have come to know the reason why we humans don’t meet our goals; we hold other beliefs, often hidden beliefs, that are stronger and in conflict with our new intentions. Hoping for a new outcome is a scenario doomed to failure, given how our mental and emotional systems are composed, when we have conflicting beliefs held within.

Wikipedia says “Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. Another way of defining belief is seeing it as a mental representation of an attitude positively oriented towards the likelihood of something being true.”

Beliefs are mental positions one chooses after experiencing some life event(s) and then makes that new belief their own. Over time that belief typically cements into a person’s values and worldview, where those beliefs in essence become one’s “facts.”

Our thoughts and beliefs color our perception of the world. They determine our actions, inactions, feelings, and behaviors. It is said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. You do not believe what you see; you see what you believe. This is why people facing the same situation see things so differently. Author Rick Carson, in his book Taming Your Gremlins, says, “Beliefs, even the noblest of them, are just opinions that we develop loyalty to.”

In essence then, beliefs are what we make up with or without the support of data, facts or truth! We all have beliefs about who we are, how life is/should be, about religious and political and social issues. Many beliefs are there because we ‘feel’ a certain way about something, with no real basis in fact, or trust in the sources of those facts.

This political season so highlights for me how the power of beliefs operate. Not only do we humans stick to our beliefs when presented facts or other opinions that refute them, we shut ourselves off from truly listening to outside sources that have opposing views, therefore deepening our resolve to hold on to what we believe. In this case our beliefs have become our identities, our biases, our prejudices, personas, and we form opinions that protect these from others who don’t share our viewpoints. This results in stalemates at best, or conflicts in their myriad of forms.

A large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to new information, scientific, or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. In other words, people reject the validity of a new data source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views. People believe what they believe, and often there is no hard data or facts to support them.

I use this visual to show how thoughts, feelings and beliefs manifest our reality:

Experience → Feelings → Thoughts → Interpretations →  Response → Result → Story → Belief → Behavior

Our beliefs drive our behaviors, and limiting/hidden beliefs are the biggest barriers to success. We form beliefs to make sense of our world. Early beliefs were formed around our parents, family, and the immature decision-making skills of our youth. We often interpreted things happening around us and began to think the following:

– I’m not good enough, have no value

– I’m not needed

– I don’t matter, what I say doesn’t matter

– I’m not important

– I’m bad

– I’m wrong

– I’m a loser

– People who are _____ are wrong, bad, scary, out to harm me.

We also interpreted events in our world over time, and developed biases and prejudices about people of other sexes, races, religious and political affiliations, and more. These then become solidified as our truth about the world and people unconsciously driving our thinking and behaviors today.

Before you set yourself up for probable failure in setting new goals for yourself you might want to look to the source of what drives you. Are there are any beliefs that are counter to the life you envision and desire for yourself? Reflect on what you believe, what is your current truth, how did you arrive at these beliefs? Will they will serve you along your life’s journey?

I had to constantly take stock of my most revered beliefs and truths every time I was faced with new ideas or facts. I had to look at what was before me, how it resonated within, and determine what was needed for me to shift my thinking. Once new truths were accepted, the old had to be let go to integrate the new into my system of understanding. Beliefs do not seem to go quietly or without discomfort. Many times this created conflict, which required delving deeper into the strata of my mind.

I often ask these questions of myself and my coaching clients to help root out limiting beliefs:

Are your beliefs still serving you?  Is this belief ____ still true for you?

What new information, data, and facts are you being presented with that cause an internal rub within you?

What prejudices and biases do you hold  onto, and are they still true in all cases?

Where have you formed opinions that seem to project from you without you even thinking? Do they still represent the way you want to live your life?

What belief, opinion, bias, or prejudice do you now see that is no longer always true?  Would you like to remove it from your thinking?

To get beyond the choke-hold of old beliefs and begin living the life you envision requires the following:

  1. Set a new intention, desire, or goal.
  2. Identify the beliefs you have about accomplishing it.
  3. Identify the beliefs you have that run contrary to it, are of a limiting nature, or are hidden that will sabotage it from manifesting.
  4. Eliminate the belief, consciously and continuously, by seeing the belief, where it came from, what it has cost you, what emotions it arouses. Allow that to flow through and out of you without any self-judgment / shame / condemnation.
  5. Replace them with thoughts, feelings and new beliefs that allow you to manifest what you desire.

We can challenge our beliefs and biases whenever they show up. We can reject any thoughts of limitations or exclusion, and replace them with a positive stream of thinking which starves them and forces them to wither and die. Self-help guru Jim Rohn said, “You cannot take a mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate the weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you need to decimate.”

It always comes down to choice – if you really want to manifest new things in your life that go against the grain of your current beliefs, you have to choose to eliminate the old beliefs first. That takes self-reflection and a desire to see your own patterns, make peace with them, yourself and let them go. Only then can you freely go about making your new intentions your reality!

We can implement the following steps to live a more positive, loving, authentic life:

New Thoughts  New Positive Feelings New Beliefs → New Attitude → Different Actions → Desired Results!

I found this quote very helpful:

“You can’t escape from a prison until you recognize you are in one. People who have chosen to live within the limits of their old beliefs continue to have the same experiences. It takes effort and commitment to break old patterns” . . . Bob Proctor

Time For A Paradigm Shift?

We often wonder why things are the way they are, and why change is so difficult – even when we see that the way things are need to improve. If you look at human history, change may take a few moments, days, years, decades or centuries. We can shift our realizations and perspectives in an instant, or choose to hold on to old beliefs and behavior patterns for generations.

A paradigm is a framework of a person, group or society that contains the basic assumptions, beliefs, ways of thinking and living, and the methodologies for decision-making that are commonplace and acceptable by the members of that community or culture. Throughout history, we have had major evolutionary shifts, from the hunter-gatherer to the agrarian, empire-building paradigms. The Renaissance, Industrial and Scientific Revolutions have brought us to current time. Within those macro paradigms we also have had many other paradigms that are woven into our societies and ways-of-thinking.

Consider for a moment the impact, benefits, liabilities and challenges-to-change the following four paradigms present:

– Patriarchy. This is defined as being attached to the ideals, perspectives and beliefs that men hold a superior place to women.

– Elitism. We see this in many areas, from those who were born into privilege to those where race and family heritage set the hierarchy for a society. In recent times we see it in how we are judged and valued based on our economic capacity to make money, and the rank and role we hold in an organization.

– We live in a mechanical Universe. Where material/stuff is considered prime to all life and things. Where it appears as if all of life, including humans, work like machines, separate and composed as dispensable parts of bigger mechanisms.

– We are our DNA. The “I am as I was born” mindset. From this perspective we just accept our lives, things and systems as a consequence of birth, almost with a ‘fait accompli’ attitude. Life just is what it is, I am who I am, and nothing can change that.

While we can discuss, even argue about the effects these and other paradigms have had on the human condition, our systems of economics and politics, and the planet. I want us to see that these were all based on patterns of human thinking. At some point we came to these conclusions, and just like all beliefs, a group of people in the past got accustomed to these ways of looking at the world and of making sense in their lives. Decisions were made, successful outcomes (win vs. losing, being right vs. wrong) were realized, and over time they just became people’s ‘truth’ and ways of living. Whether we agree with them or not, they are an integral aspect of our existence.

Take some time and reflect on these few paradigms of thought, beliefs and cultural patterns and how they play out within you your life. Gain a greater perspective on how those patterns of thinking may have come about and how long-ago life conditions called them into existence. See where there are ways to agree and affirm the benefits of such thinking, as well as see the dark-side and the detriments. Allow yourself to get real with your own patterns and habits of thinking-believing-behaving to see how they have played out in your life in the defining who you think you are. Observe how these paradigms play in the way you interact with others, both in relationships and as a member of various communities. See where your thinking has served you, as well as prevented you from living life from more of your own authentic choosing.

Truth often gets mixed with beliefs, preferences or opinions. A truth to me means it is true in all situations, so as I have looked at these paradigms and have been brutally honest with myself. I saw how they played parts in my own development. This ‘getting real’ with myself has helped me to open up my mind, let in contrarian-to-current-paradigm thinking that has allowed me to see how the opposite of each can be positively experienced and lived. Being able to appreciate the power and energy of the feminine; the letting go of biases and prejudices; observing the pain from fear of limitations and lack; seeing how everything in life has a ripple effect on everything else. I have experienced how my own desires and intentions for personal growth have led to positive changes that made me more open, more accepting, more effective, and more fulfilled. Once I let go of my own attachments to past paradigms and old truths, I was able to see what is true, right, beautiful and meaningful to me, and that has made all the difference in my life.

It’s like the saying “what got me here won’t get me there,” and I can now see that our current reality needs not just one but many paradigm shifts. See how shifts in thinking allows new data, experiences and realities to shed light adding to and expanding current experiences, or just destroy old paradigm patterns of thinking that no longer serve our highest and best good.

I invite you to explore how paradigms have impacted your life, and have made you who you are. Let me know how shifts in your own thinking have brought about positive changes in you! My sense is that more people are waking up and are open to looking at the world and their lives through new lenses. When enough people start seeing things anew, new things can come about. Shift can happen over a lifetime, or it can happen in a split second – you determine the speed of change!

All change begins in the hearts, minds and souls of people.

Shift the way you see the world and the world will shift!

The True Source of Power of the Elite Leader

Being a more conscious, self-aware person will enhance your ability to get along with others and be a more effective elite leader. Self-awareness is the gateway into our own authenticity, our own unique selves, whereby we show up in our relationships reflecting our own highest truth.

In order to get to our own truth and authenticity, introspection, reflection, deep questioning, and honest evaluation are required. Tapping into your “inner voice” will reveal your own truths to you. To reach a higher level of honest self-awareness, we also must take into account there are “multiple voices” inside our head often vying for the alpha position in our minds.

We have many beliefs, stories, values, morals, and fears that have been passed onto us from many sources. Parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, teachers, clergy, books, TV, heroes, villains, and more. They have all shared their beliefs, stories, values, morals and fears with us, intentionally and unintentionally. By the time we become adults we have taken on so much of other peoples’ stuff that we become a mirror of what we have been exposed to without even consciously thinking about it anymore. At the same time that inner voice that is and has always been there gets drowned out more and more by the noise of what others think we should think, do and say.

Consider for a moment that we have three levels of awareness available to us: two halves of Ego (the Healthy and the Negative), and an Authentic Self. The ego is our default, hard wired survival program. Ego looks out for our survival, our sustenance, and our ability to get around. It sees the world as two centers, one as itself and the other is everything outside it. Feeling apart and needing to survive, succeed, and progress, it seeks to keep us safe, free from danger, and able to thrive.

The unhealthy aspects of ego keep us mired in some form of fear-based thinking. Whether experiencing sadness, anger, depression, blaming, regret, despair, unworthiness, disappointment or hate from things in the past – or worry, anxiety, pessimism, frustration, doubt, overwhelm, insecurity or powerlessness from things not yet manifested in the future. Unhealthy ego keeps our consciousness below the level of active self-awareness. When we are focused on the past or the future we have no room to be present. These are the “other voices” we listen to, and they often scream so loud and kick up our emotional states to such a frenzy we don’t allow our higher-self much room to show-up and offer its wisdom.

A healthy aspect of ego is the in-between state of the unhealthy and our authentic selves. This blossoms when we mature and see that living from unhealthy ego has its limits, creates too much pain, and doesn’t provide the better things in life most of us seek. As we learn to grow and develop the healthy aspects of ego life takes on more positive flavors, and improved relationships and results are realized. This takes a good deal of effort, and is accomplished through some form of personal or professional development, over time, and also just by being more open to the life-lessons that constantly come to us.

My hope for all leaders is to see that a wider field of awareness can be sought, developed and expressed within everyone. Each of us experience some level of our authentic selves, we call these “peak” moments. We experience this moments during our days and yet get pulled back into ego consciousness far too often. In these peak moments is where our higher self is most active; it allows a more dynamic level of awareness to look at people, issues, and life in ways most of us deeply desire, and allow our better faculties to arise when dealing with the challenges of leading an organization.

The chart below may help you visualize these three levels of awareness, how they reveal where our awareness typically resides, and how we bounce between states, often automatically without any conscious thinking. See which words and states speak to you, reflect back to you, and see where your awareness spends its time. You’ll have bouts of time in each section, and only you get to determine what’s real and true for you, and what you’d like to see improved.

Leadership attitudes and behaviors can be separated into these three levels of awareness as follows:

Unhealthy Ego   Awakening Ego        Elite/Conscious

Autocratic          Achiever                    Integrative

Authoritarian     Collaborative             Systems

Dictatorial          Democratic                Self-leading teams

Directive            Empowering              Inspirational

Domination        Strategic                    Mastery

Obedience         Trust                          Align & Engage

Self-esteem       Self-actualization      Service

Individual           Team                         Stakeholder Focus

Directive            Coach                        Entrusting

Push                  Attract                        Resonance

Reject                Recognize                  Rejoice

Contractual        Covenant                   Trust

Tolerate              Appreciate                 Love

This is such a huge subject and we are only scratching the surface. I want to share what I have learned and still learning about consciousness and my own levels of awareness. We will refer to ego and authentic self as we dialog about consciousness and conscious leadership over time giving us a context for future conversations.

It’s up to each of us who desire to push our leadership capacities to higher levels being open to adding and expanding our own awareness. Let me know your thoughts on this and let’s help each other learn, grow and evolve into the highest level, best people and leaders possible!

Why Employee Engagement Should be Top of Mind for Every Leader

Headline – Employee Engagement in the workplace has experienced zero improvement over the last 40 years!

Using engagement as a measurement of productivity and effectiveness, Gallup reports on average, only 30% of employees have been engaged at work over the past 18 years.*. This statistic has been fairly consistent over many years, even decades, in spite of the massive amount of focus on leadership through the thousands of books published and the proliferation of MBA programs. We are not moving the needle toward progress and are thereby stuck.

Basically, 70% of Americans at work (150 million) don’t really want to be working at their present place of employment, so they only do the bare minimum to keep their jobs. Worse yet, they are the toxic employees who negatively infect their workplace. This is a failure of leadership.

Is this really the best we can do? Are there ways to turn these uninspiring statistics around? The answer is yes, but there is work to be done.

The way ahead is through bringing on the next paradigm when thinking about the nature of people, work, and how we come together to make things happen. This new paradigm has already begun in many organizations. While still far too few in number statistically, this has been changing over the past 20 years as more and more leaders are stepping into their own authenticity, are expanding their own levels of self-awareness, and are showing up in their roles more powerfully.

The current paradigm in business and work, which has been around for the last 200 years, is centered on an “ownership-management” paradigm. Our system places the needs of the owners and those at the upper levels of management in first-position. While the current paradigm has been at the fore-front of countless improvements, and has driven prosperity upward while reducing poverty, it also has its short-comings. It is based on a belief system that sees scarcity and limits all around, believes the most-fit should survive, winners should take all, and (s)he who puts their own money at risk should reap the rewards.

The level of consciousness of the conditioned self (ego) of this paradigm is driven by greed, the need for more, and protecting what’s one’s own. Egoism in the management ranks is focused on control and power, is mistrusting of people, and also seeks to further self-interests. Ego at the employee level centers on many forms of fear, as in the fear of losing one’s job should an employee displease the boss.

This paradigm, while the creator of so many great things in our lives and world, is also limiting the human spirit from becoming more fully aware, more alive, more authentic – and more engaged. The results of this paradigm give us unacceptably low levels of employee engagement in all industries and areas of work.

The new leadership paradigm is driven by authentic leadership. It comes from a higher level of awareness that has at its center the “primacy of the human being.” This transformational perspective integrates the four key aspects of being human: the physical needs, mental strengths, emotional dynamics, and our spiritual capacities. People are not seen as means to an end, they are valued as partners, and are invited into the flow of information and decision-making. Ego gives way to authenticity, and people are welcomed to more fully ‘show-up’ at work, where their personal values, passions, gifts and sense of purpose come alive. This aliveness allows them to offer more of themselves voluntarily and delivers higher levels of focus, effort, and outcomes. When people align with their organization’s sense of mission and culture, they naturally, easily become more engaged, giving more of themselves and being of higher service to the organization’s stakeholders.

It is time for a new vision for our places of work, driven by elite leaders who are ready to transform the way we do business and work together. Are you an Elite Leader? Are you ready to become one? Join me in this work – it will be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do!

* Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Through Gallup Daily tracking, Gallup categorizes workers as “engaged” based on their responses to key workplace elements it has found that predict important organizational performance outcomes. Over nearly two decades, the annual percentage of engaged U.S. workers has ranged from a low of 26% in 2000 and 2005 to the recent six-month high of 34% in 2018. On average, 30% of employees have been engaged at work during the past 18 years.