One Day You Begin to Believe
One day you begin to believe and everything changes.
“Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter.” The Truth about Leadership, Kouzes and Posner.
4 deadly beliefs:
- Hope changes things. Hope is necessary, but hope by itself doesn’t change anything. Apart from action, hope turns to despair.
- Things that feel bad should be avoided. Confrontation, for example, is a gift, especially when it’s partially on target. Humility is a always a good thing.
- Strong people succeed on their own and receiving help is a sign of weakness.
- You should be like everyone else.
5 ways to believe you matter:
- Believe in something that matters. Over the last three years, I’ve come to believe in coaching as an essential leadership skill. When I declare the value of coaching, I dare to believe in my own voice.
- Make imperfect contributions. Solve a small piece of a big problem. Small progress ignites belief.
- Help others believe they matter. You matter when you help others believe they matter. Answer your own self-doubt by soothing the doubts of others. Show people they matter by explaining how they’re making a difference.
- Step into fear slowly. You’re afraid you don’t matter. Express your big dream in small ways.
- Try one thing, not many. Worry less about all the things you can’t do.
- Embrace progress – that isn’t good enough – as a way of life. Occasionally progress is good enough, usually it isn’t.
- Say, “Let’s try,” when it might work and you don’t have better alternatives.
- Build a track-record of small wins. One day you’ll turn around and say, “Gee, maybe I can make a difference.”
How might leaders learn to believe they matter?
How might you believe you matter, today?
I believe I matter because I have to matter. If not, I’m in the way. When you dare to serve others and you are 100% committed to the “truth” (as in being determined to know whether you matter or not and to make change when you don’t), you will come to know whether you matter or not.
For me, it ultimately comes down to the people I serve; our customers first, the intermediaries we work through to get to the customer and finally our team. If they say I’m making a difference – or not – I have an obligation to them, and to me, to accept that as the truth.
Thanks Alf. Two things come to mind as I read your great comment. One, believe in something that matters. In this case serving customers. The other thing that comes to mind is importance and power of feedback that we might like to ignore or resist. Great seeing you here this morning.
I’ve always taught my kids ‘action comes before feeling’…act happy, you’ll be happy; act busy, you’ll be busy. I didn’t coin the phrase, I picked it up at a sales seminar…and now, as adults, they remind me of the phrase frequently when they judge me as not putting forth my best effort. Attack, attack, attack! Great article, Dan!.
Thanks Mom. I’m fully on board with behave your way into feels, rather than feel your way into behaving. Best wishes.
Helping others see they matter — your #3 — has been been a great guidepost for me. I believe its one of the center points of leadership. Our societies cries “Black Lives Matter” “Police Lives Matter” carry this very theme. I fear we have confused connected-ness and meaning (“I have 1000 Facebook friends!.. yeah but who can you call?).. When you KNOW you matter in an organization, a family, a society you perform at a different level, responsibility and accountability energize, achievement for the group-good replaces selfishness…
“Dan, this is so good. And a great reminder for me. “. . . the assumption that you matter.” Reminds me of the “golden rule.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You have to know what YOU need/want in order to be better equipped to treat others with their needs/wants. Generally, if our focus is on serving others we will get more than we dreamed. However, if our focus is “getting” for ourselves, things will be out of perspective and we may not get what we need/want. I don’t know where you get all these great messages every day, but they are one of, if not the, best I get each day. Thank you, sir, for keeping us focused.
The following is a path I do my best to avoid but is one that freezes too many people’s abilities to contribute and thus to have a chance to matter – to enjoy life:
A situation arises, one that is challenging, even risky – but very important, a situation needing addressing. “Pat” acknowledges the need but is also mindful of the risks involved. Pat thinks “if I’m going to engage, I better make sure a have a detailed, foolproof plan.” Pat gathers appropriate material, Considers it (of course…), and lays out a detailed plan. But then the uneasiness surfaces. Pat begins, maybe unconsciously, to look for potential points of failure for the plan. Pat loops back to gather even more information and repeat the process once again. This loop continues untold times as Pat is always able to identify weak points in the plan. Pat’s boss, Dan, asks for progress reports – which are usually the same: “It’s moving along but I keep finding the weak parts of the plan; I cannot implement the plan as it’s incomplete still.”
Sadly for Pat, Dan has no option but to take the project from Pat and ask Chris to take it over. Chris reviews Pat’s plan and decides the obvious: Pat had great ideas and a very detailed plan, in fact far too detailed and one that should / could have been initiated a while back. Chris tweaked the plan a very little bit and started implementing it. Chris knew there would be setbacks but was comfortable they could be handled. Indeed they were and the situation was resolved in short order – winning praise for Chris from Dan and all principles linked to the situation.
Pat of course was following this and noted, correctly, that Chris implemented Pat’s plan and received praise for what was truly lots of Pat’s efforts. Pat was upset with Chris and even more with Dan – who never even acknowledged Pat’s efforts. After all, the situation was resolved, yes by Chris but with Pat’s plan…
Dan believed that Pat mattered initially. But Pat’s inability to engage until perfection was found justified Dan’s assessment that Pat was undoing Pat’s mattering!!!! Not sure where this scenario would go from here but the it’s not really promising that Pat will ever understand…
One thing is certain for me: Regardless of what it is, to matter everyone must engage – knowing risks will be routine, resulting in mistakes that will be dealt with. Perfection doesn’t exist and its quest is inconsistent with mattering!!!
I really love the quote by Kouzes and Posner. “Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter.” That one statement is rich with truth, both for the leader’s own future and the future of those he or she leads. It also carries with it great responsibility for those of us who are looked to for guidance and direction. What an impact we can have in this world when we not only convince ourselves that we matter, but also those we influence.
Dan, “believing” and “believing in oneself” is the summa cum laude of all discussions, for it is the greatest of all plagues of personal and professional wellness, fulfillment and success in history.
Calvin Coolidge said the lack of belief in oneself was the most common commodity in America during his time. Ghandi claimed nothing can take the place of self-belief: Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent and lack of self-belief. Genius will not; Einstein is recorded as saying unrewarded genius as a result of disbelief in one’s worth is almost a proverb. Education will not; Dewey said the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination—and every quality of character and personality–are impotent without self-belief, according to Martin Seligman, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania.
When it comes to believing and self-belief, my favorite profession is education and my favorite professionals are teachers—the most honorable and most essential of all professions, in my estimation. Teachers touch the future and we never know where their influence stops: They make all other professions possible.
However, ask any tenured teacher in the classroom today if they believe they are a professional, if they believe in their mission, if they are making a difference, if they believe in what they are teaching, what they are saying, what they are doing, what their students are learning, what their students are becoming, if their students are happy, if their students will be a success in life, etc.—and the teacher’s answer will be far from positive, optimistic or affirmative.
Ask if they are fulfilled, enriched or enlivened by their profession–or by their performance in their classroom?
Yet unfetter them, remind them of their dream of becoming teachers, reaffirm their vision that their students may be nurses, engineers, plumbers, scientists, inventors, business leaders, lawyers, astronauts, authors, perhaps teachers, and who knows—the next President of the United States…and their hearts go into tachycardia and they come alive again with purpose and energy.
The same is true of leaders and managers. To re-ignite our self-belief, we must ignite our vision of purpose. Here’s one problem. If we scorn our excellence in plumbing, for example, because plumbing is a humble activity, but tolerate shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity—we will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither our pipes nor our theories will hold water.
Here’s a real tragedy: We can easily forgive a student who is afraid of the dark, but what about the lives of “adults” who are afraid of the “light.”
Every leader, or boss, needs to be reminded, from time-to-time, THAT he or she matters. They deserve to be shown and told how, and why. By the persons that they supervise, and lead. By fellow leaders. By business customers and clients. By hospitality guests and visitors. By hospital staff doctors and nurses, and patients. And, in kind, leaders must let persons in each of their contact groups – know they matter MORE!
“Answer your own self-doubt by soothing the doubts of others.” – This statement got me. There is no other way to feel that you matter than helping others realize their worth. I enjoyed reading your posts, Dan! Now found myself browsing your past articles, keep it up!
I love this picture, it’s worth 1000 words for sure.