As children we adopt a belief system based on the belief system of our parents. Depending on the parenting style, we are likely rewarded and reinforced for doing what these teachers think is good. We are criticized and penalized for what is bad. It is how we learn to stay safe. It is how we fit in.
Negative feedback can be helpful in an urgent situation such as a hot stove. Not so much when it comes to development, leaving us feeling as if we don’t belong unless we are ‘good.’
As adults we live out this belief system and learned perspectives. When life sends us a difficult situation often we internalize this as having been “bad” and deserving of this hardship. “Must be something wrong with me.”
Beliefs translate to behaviors. If we grew up around anxiety we’ll likely address discord with it. If we grew up around positivity we’ll find the good. Often negative life messages are merely assumptions but we are conditioned to adopt them as true in an attempt to keep us safe.
Careers are difficult to maneuver when we allow our learned beliefs to drive our actions. We play it safe, not applying for stretch jobs because we don’t want to feel rejected. We fear we won’t fit in and internalize not being good enough, resulting in distant behavior which only compounds disconnectedness. Anxiety leads to losing our executive presence because we can’t manage our fears in the moment – fears based in a belief system that isn’t authentic but learned.
When we can untangle the difference between “assumptions” and “truth” we have power. We can observe our behavior and feelings from a third-party perspective and write a different ending to our story instead of fast forwarding and anticipating a doom-and-gloom ending. We can adopt our OWN belief system by writing down our values and weighing our perspectives against them when seeking clarity. Not defaulting to a learned belief system.
What do you truly believe is important in life? And how do you want to live to that standard? If you know the answer, your character will be evident and your behavior will be consistent. If not, your colleagues and clients are unclear as well.
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and corporate CEO who helps busy leaders get off the treadmill to nowhere to be more effective, earn more, be more calm and enjoy connected relationships with the people who matter while it still matters. Watch her FREE Master Class training on Three Things to Transform Your Life and Career Right Now at www.MaryLeeGannon.com.