"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Pleasures of Belief

"Men do not forego the pleasures of the moment to
say good-bye to all joy for evermore--no, this self-control is a
training, so that we may reap the fruits of a larger joy in the time
to come. A man will toil day and night to make himself an orator, yet
oratory is not the one aim of his existence: his hope is to influence
men by his eloquence and thus achieve some noble end." Xenophon, Cyropaedia

There exists a fundamental template that acts as a foundation for all action. As a business professional, knowing that their is a source, that when adjusted, changes the actions that are taken is of immense value. One of the variables of this template is what we call beliefs. Beliefs are not tangible things that we can hold, yet they have the ability to create life, to extinguish it; and to spur any action ever conceived. Beliefs are what tells us what is possible.

Most, if not all, businesses sell a vision of what is possible. They sell this vision to clients, employees, shareholders, communities, etc. If we connect the dots here we can see the correlation between beliefs and vision. What would happen if we don't believe in our vision? Would we be able to sell it? Well, not really. If beliefs tell us what is possible, and to sell we must believe the vision is possible, then businesses will not survive, much less thrive if belief is ignored. Frequently, what we call "unmotivated," "underachieving," or even "poor" employees are actually simply suffering from a lack of belief. Either of themselves, their company, their product/service, and usually a combination of some of these factors.

Beliefs are created by having experiences that tell us that something is possible. We need to experience a sense of certainty that if such and such is done, then x will be the result. If we have enough references that meet that criteria, then we effectively establish a belief. The majority of our beliefs are adopted from others, and built around our personal experiences.

With that in mind it becomes vital that we adopt beliefs from those individuals which we admire, or wish to model. It is also important to seek experiences which will help build and reinforce empowering ones. At the end of the day beliefs are under our control, and must be managed effectively to open the doors to the possibilities we seek to realize.

Interestingly enough we can read into someone's beliefs by their actions. We can tell if someone has a high self esteem or a low self esteem, simply by observing their actions. A person who believes that something grand is possible will forego immediate pleasures for future ones. Think about it. To say no to immediate pleasures requires a belief that the future rewards will outweigh the current offering. Those who don't believe they can have something better or do something better will try to get the quick fix.

Those who engage in discipline, even though to some it may seem like self-denial, are actually investing in future pleasure. These disciplined individuals have strong beliefs about what they want (vision) and have no doubt they will manifest, thus they more often than not produce the intended result. Management at all levels from self to business requires a continuous refinement and inspection of the beliefs structure to ensure that they are consciously driven to exceed expectations.

Angel Armendariz

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