As You Think, So You Are
I was reminded of an old proverb recently: “As a man thinketh so he is”.
I had the pleasure of listening to Amy K Hutchens speak at a leadership event. Amy is passionate about 2 things: 1. Changing how people think. 2. Changing how people behave.
Isn’t that really what leadership is all about? Enabling, empowering, equipping people to change what/how they think so they can change their behaviour. Helping people be better – helping people to be their best.
These are deep waters though. It’s heavy lifting to try to understand what you think, why you think what you do, how that makes you feel, how that influences behaviour and how you can change behaviour by changing what you think.
Our thoughts and beliefs are built upon stories. These stories are what we have been telling ourselves, or what others have been telling us, for years.
So what are the stories you’ve been telling yourself?
Amy pointed out 4 key stories she’s found leaders, and people in general, tend to tell themselves which are limitations to their growth and development. Are you telling yourself any of these?
- The Imposter Syndrome
The Imposter Syndrome is the simple belief that one day people will discover you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re an imposter. You have no business doing what you’re doing. Other people are far more qualified than you are.
I was told the story of the founder of a very large company, who employed hundreds of people, and who had successfully led his firm for decades. He effectively passed on the leadership of his company to the next generation of leaders. After handing over the reins his successor asked him what his thoughts were as he looked back at his career. He said, “Well, I always had this nagging feeling that one day people would discover I really didn’t know as much as they thought I did.”
That’s the imposter Syndrome.
- Comparison Condition
This is when people constantly compare themselves to others and find themselves lacking. They actually diminish themselves by looking at someone else and determining that they are less than them.
We actually have 3 choices when we compare ourselves to others: 1. We diminish ourselves. 2. We diminish them. 3. We learn from them and cheer them on. Choosing the 3rd option is the only wise choice.
- Likability Malady
These are people who are always looking for the approval of others. Decisions can’t be made unless they know that others approve of what they are proposing. They need to be liked, so difficult decisions can’t be made. Life and leadership are a popularity contest – and that doesn’t make for good leadership. And it makes for a life that is shallow and without conviction.
- Leaving the Hood
These are people who are unable to leave behind their past – they can’t leave the “hood”. They continue to believe the limiting stories they have heard since they were young. They can’t leave their negative stories behind. Their past, from when they were very young, defines them – for the worse. They must choose to leave the primary negative programmers of our beliefs.
Have you subscribed to any of these stories?
We must be aware of what we’re thinking, because our thinking informs our behaviour.
How aware of you of your thinking? Are you more aware of your feelings than your thoughts? Behind every feeling is a thought, a belief, which has contributed to that feeling.
When you find yourself feeling a certain negative emotion – perhaps discouragement, hopelessness, despair, or the like – take some time to analyze what your thoughts and beliefs are that have contributed to that emotion.
You cannot fight negative emotions with logic. You can’t just say to yourself that it’s not logical to feel this way. You must unpack the beliefs that have led to these feelings, and then replace them with new beliefs.
Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you can’t, you are correct.”
Mr. Ford understood that what we think determines our behaviour, and we can choose what we think.
As you think, so you are.