Yesterday morning our local sports talk radio station, 1310 The Ticket, had Troy Aikman on. When asked about the competitiveness of the NFL he said the Dallas Cowboys, with the same owner and GM for a few decades now, are puzzling because it’s unclear what they believe. A few years ago it was defense. Then it was the quest for a more explosive offense. Aikman said he believes the consistently top teams in the league have a philosophy, a set of core beliefs from which they won’t deviate. Teams like New England.
In recent weeks I’ve talked to you quite a bit about the importance of beliefs because I know they drive our behavior. What we believe – our core beliefs as Troy termed them – determine the choices we make and the actions we take.
It’s interesting to me the beliefs people hold, which are nothing more than assumptions. It’s like all those click-bait headlines folks read, and think are 100% true. People base their opinions, which morph into beliefs based on such nonsense. And it can be difficult to influence them to believe anything different. Misinformation must come with a little shot of close-mindedness on the backend. 😉
“Nobody does that,” she said.
“Nobody?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know anybody,” she corrected.
“Do you know everybody?” I smarted off.
“No, of course not,” she replied.
“So you assume because you don’t know anybody who does that, that nobody does that?” I inquired.
You can see how that conversation is likely going to peter out unless the person can find some better logic to deploy. She couldn’t. So the conversation wound down to a halt. Such is the finale of a closed mind. But today it’s not about a closed mind (don’t worry, you know I’ll get around to that). It’s about what core beliefs we’re dedicated to. And yes, they can include (they DO include) our assumptions, whether true or false.
You can wrestle down your core beliefs. I’m not here to tell you what they ought to be. They ought to be whatever you need them to be to achieve high performance in your organization. I am here to share some ideas and stories in hopes of helping you wrestle them down.
One of the big challenges I face in serving business leaders is to push them to think through and properly defend their beliefs. It’s not the most comfortable work, but it’s among the most valuable work for people willing to embrace it.
“Our customers don’t visit our website from their phones.” She believes it. She’d dedicated to it. And it’s hindering her organization. So I challenge it.
“How do you know that?” I ask. After some stammering and stuttering, she tells me, “They just don’t.” See, that’s the kind of logic we deploy when we’re dug in on a belief, especially a false belief. But she clearly believes it.
I’m not trying to change her mind as much as I’m trying to open her mind. Because I know it’ll help her. I know she’ll find an entirely new level of success if she can pry open her closed mind. It’s a challenge I don’t mind, until it grows too frustrating (which happens sometimes). I don’t push water up hills. It’s fruitless work so I refuse to do it.
“Do you care what your customer’s experience would be if they did go to your website using their phone or a tablet?” I ask. She doesn’t know it, but it’s a loaded question because I need to understand her beliefs better. Does she even care about her customers?
“I’m sure it’s fine,” she says. Immediately I know her belief is that she’s always right, never wrong and she honestly doesn’t much care about the customer’s experience. And that’s why her company is stuck and struggling.
“Thank you for the conversation. Have a good day!” (I’m like Flash. I’m gone!) 😀
But I’m sad for her because I’ll give her every benefit by embracing the idea that she really, really believes it doesn’t matter. I’m left to wonder what else she may feel doesn’t matter. What you don’t know are the other parts of the conversation where she clearly displayed resistance to any sort of change (i.e. improvement or growth). Puzzling when the conversation goes from “I need help” to statements that indicate, “I’m good.” Beliefs in action.
Let me leave you with two things to ponder.
First, the limiting beliefs you may hold. Those beliefs that hold you back. Like the ones I’ve just described.
We all have them. Spend some time considering what yours may be. You won’t likely be able to spot them all without deep thought and perhaps some outside help. Somebody to press you with tough, but caring questions.
I know people who believe earning more than $60K a year is super difficult. How do you suppose that belief is going to impact them? Of course! They’re going to struggle to ever achieve it. It’ll hold them back until they can overcome it.
The salesperson approaches the meeting thinking, “They’re never going to buy.” When the meeting doesn’t go well, they conclude, “See, I was right.”
Question what you may be believing that doesn’t work in helping you achieve more. What’s holding you back?
Very few of us think big enough. I admit it. I don’t. And I know why. I’m often too practical and I’m often guilty of minimizing my talents and skills. And experience. I have such strong convictions against pride and arrogance that I have a deep belief that I’m not better than anybody. That can cause me to take a false view of my value. So I have to constantly remind myself that my service to others hinges on my talents, experience and uniqueness. It’s not a matter of being better…it’s about my uniqueness to see things, connect dots and influence people to achieve more. That’s a belief I can get behind (and do).
What about you? What notions or beliefs are slowing you down or holding you back? Be honest with yourself.
Second, the core philosophy of doing business. How you go about doing business and why. These beliefs also contribute largely to determining your destiny.
I’ve described a leader who doesn’t believe a customer’s experience with her company’s website on a mobile device matters. That philosophy drives her decisions to give no credence to the thought that an improved web presence might help her company. Until she changes her beliefs, she’s not about to change her website.
She doesn’t believe she’s wrong. Worse yet, she doesn’t leave any possibility that she even could be. I don’t know for sure, but based on my experience I’d suspect she is surrounded by people she won’t listen to. She knows more than everybody. She’s able to admit a degree of being stuck, but when challenged she hastily retreats to, “I’m fine.” Nothing in her life is going to ever improve because she believes she’s already got it all figured out and under control.
Life long learning is a core belief. You and me and the rest of this crew listening to this podcast, we all believe that. It’s a core philosophy that directs our choices and actions. We know we don’t have all the answers. In fact, we rather pride ourselves in just trying to formulate better questions. Because we believe the quality of our questions determines the quality of our business.
We also believe that curiosity is a super fuel. That’s why we roam about our organizations in search of ways to make things better. Because we’re curious if we do better.
We believe people can improve, starting with ourselves. When others lament, “They’re doing the best they can” we question it because deep down we believe with encouragement and coaching they can do even better.
Your core philosophies of leadership and doing business. What are they? Distill them down.
They serve like true north on your life compass. They keep you from waffling from one idea to another. Always searching for the latest, greatest, hottest, trickest tactic.
Troy Aikman told that radio show that the NFL looks at the spectacular offensive prowess of the Los Angeles Rams and teams will abandon what they’ve been doing in an effort to copy the Rams. They’ll do it because they believe it’ll work, but it’s not a core belief or philosophy. It’s a tactic or strategy they want to copy. It was evident by Troy’s interview that he believes teams should establish an identity based on their core beliefs and commit to them. I believe Troy is right. What do you believe?
Be well. Do good. Grow great!