Did you wake up to see the day, or did the day wake up to see you? I wish I could tell you that I wake up each morning with insights such as this, but that’s not the case. Today was different. I spent the better part of my morning contemplating this thought over my coffee, which seemed to taste different this morning – more fragrant, more bold. Wake up, that voice kept telling me, wake up.
How often do we wake up with the intention to explore and question our inner and outer world? Often, autopilot seems to take over. It’s easier that way, and we often go with what’s easiest. What’s the harm in that? For small-scale situations, not much. For bigger issues? Potentially damaging.
Somewhere along our experience of life, we picked up beliefs, opinions, and ideas of others and implemented them into our personal beliefs without much understanding of the meaning behind them. In essence, your reality of the world shifted. You saw a new way of managing life based upon someone else’s idea of it.
In his book, Change Your Limiting Beliefs, Kevin Bermingham posits, “Beliefs are simply a feeling of conviction or certainty that something is real or true… Beliefs are our best guess at reality…They’re the principles and rules by which we assume the world works.” Beliefs are not absolute truth, so why do we effortlessly allow them to direct the course of our decision making?
Beliefs govern our lives, our perception of reality. This goes for our business practices as well, where we have the potential to make or break the world around us by what we believe. That’s a lot of power, for better or worse. The future of work requires leaders to move with it, and this requires going beyond surface-level issues like working remotely versus in the office. Instead, dig deeper, down to the root of your business practices.
It’s common business practice to seek out information from others on how to keep up with the changing work environment. Yet, developing and adjusting how you run your business based on listicles, articles, and seminars without self-reflection is a risky move. What’s your intention when you turn to “how to” articles?
Intention is vital when it comes to business. If your intention is to be told “how to” run a business – you blindly accept someone else’s reality as your own, not allowing yourself to consider what’s true for you. It’s similar to using a sales script without comprehending the material. When it comes time for the potential client to ask you questions, you fall short. Words can only get you so far, it’s your understanding of them that gives them meaning and power.
I’m not asserting that the beliefs and words of others aren’t helpful. We just often absorb them in a way that stunts our growth and the growth of our business. We adopt these beliefs without evaluating why we do so by blanket assumptions such as, “It’s worked for someone else who appears successful, so naturally it will work for me.” This thinking completely negates autonomy, awareness, or introspection. I challenge you to dig deeper, think in new ways, and get curious about the concept of chosen naivety.
Let’s take a couple common beliefs and workshop them. As you go through, be sure to ask yourself the following:
- “What if I’m wrong about this?”
- “What good does this belief serve?”
- “What negative does this belief serve?”
Pause and reflect: Why do I believe a manager should have full authority? Possible answer: because employees cannot be trusted Possible answer: because this is how it’s always been
Pause and reflect: Why should employees work in the office during a designated time frame?
Possible answer: working in the office helps build morale and workplace culture Possible answer: designated time is necessary for consistency and reliability I dig deeper into the power of questioning beliefs in business in my new book, Dare to be Naive. It includes stories of successful business leaders who broke away from rote, self-limiting beliefs. Their success was a result of the conscious decision to choose principles over profit and self-awareness over blindly following others. As a result, these individuals extended their leadership to a broader scale. In other words, they experienced a greater Return on Investment (ROI) while pursuing greater Ripples of Impact.
Dare to be Naive wasn’t designed to teach you how to think or what to believe. Instead, it encourages you to consider the why behind your thoughts and beliefs. You can either view the idea of a chosen naivety as something to fear or something that’s empowering. As for me, I find it empowering.
“We think that making sense out of life is impossible unless the flow of events can somehow be fitted into a framework of rigid forms… But if that is what ‘making sense out of life’ means, we have set ourselves the impossible task of making fixity out of flux.”1
When my editor reviewed this article, they asked if the Alan Watts quotation would “click” with people, if they would understand the meaning behind it. In a paradoxical way, my intention was to not have it easily understood. This goes along with the concept of what your beliefs are, how you interpret the world. What did you believe when you read the quotation? Did you explore it further to get a deeper understanding, did you brush over it, or did you assume to know what it meant?
Written by Joshua Berry.
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