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5 Core Leadership Beliefs that Expand Possibilities

One of my favourite leadership bloggers, Dan Rockwell, wrote a blog recently called: 5 Deadly Beliefs That Limit Leaders and it got me wondering what beliefs open doors and possibilities for leaders. Its important to know what beliefs hold us back and another to know where to focus and what to cultivate. Choosing your beliefs shapes how you approach your leadership and brings intention, perspective and direction to the choices you make. As a result, possibilities expand in new unexpected areas. Here are the top five beliefs that I’ve witnessed that expand possibilities for the leaders I’ve worked with.

Hope – Believing things will work out. Not blind faith, simply faith. Leaders create environments where they believe people are genuinely doing their best, whether or not their best is what you need. Think the best of people including yourself. Hope is as contagious as negative thinking. Choosing hope is making a choice to focus on the positive and believing that you are up for the challenges ahead.   If you don’t have hope you can’t install hope in your team. Leaders who choose hope inspire that thinking in their teams and help them see their goals as realistic and possible.

When you stop learning, you start dying – Albert Einstein said “When you stop learning, you start dying”. Learning is the only way to growth. A certain amount of learning can happen pre-decision and we can only know the true outcome of a decision by making a choice and putting it into action. You’re guaranteed learning from every choice that will inform your next choice. Without moving into choice you stay stuck and miss out on precious learning for you and your team. There are no bad choices, just next choices.

No one stands alone – As Brené Brown says, we are hardwired for connection. Believing in community means you cultivate and participate in conversations with everyone around you. You know that if you’re not making progress the best way to move forward is to get people talking and building community on a foundation of trust and honesty. The answers will show up and the team will have the support around them to move those answers forward.

Find and Create Meaning – From our very first years of life, we are driven to ask the question “Why?”. Leaders who search for and create meaning for themselves in their work must also create that connection for those around them. As Dan Pink describes so eloquently in his book Drive, people want to make a contribution to something greater. Money is a de-motivator; doing work that has an impact on the greater good in the world is something we can all rally around. Everyone wants to make a difference and they need to know what that difference is.

Courage over Comfort – Courageous leaders are willing to step into the discomfort of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure for the sake of moving forward. They know that choosing comfort feels good in the short term and keeps them moving further away from their desired outcomes. Courage requires leaders to ask for what they need, admit what they don’t know, have boundaries, make decisions, stand up for a cause and more. Courage means choosing perseverance over the easy out. It means being all in when its easier to walk away. The courageous leader knows that choosing comfort over courage leads to regret and choosing courage leads to both hardship and the joy of achievement.

In his book, The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander tells a story of two marketing scouts to show us the impact of our beliefs on possibility:

“A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,

SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES

The other writes back triumphantly,

GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES 

Ben Zander also said: “In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.” Choose to cultivate opportunity through these core beliefs and possibilities will unfold for you and your team.

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