What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve... How's your belief doing?


Just recently I've been attending a weekly (6 in total) group workshop based on the #Thrive programme by Rob Kelly. +Tania Clarke is leading this innovative approach delivering in groups and it has been a fascinating journey. We have just done week 5, so one to go. This post is not about the thrive programme but about one element of it; belief systems.

Belief systems are those things that we hold to be true... and we spend quite a lot of energy protecting these belief systems and actually making sure they are water tight. Confirmation bias is looking for things that happen in our lives to confirm what we believe... And therefore re-affirm the belief which in turn makes it a stronger belief.

The real problem of course is that many of our beliefs are actually not true. In fact many of our beliefs are actually holding us back from what we could really achieve. So... A parent evaluating two children might deem that the more social child, who enjoys conversation and connection; extrovert if you like, is not the clever one. The other more introvert child however, prefers books and studying and is considered more intelligent. At exam time, expectations are lower for the extrovert, who subconsciously knows this and therefore delivers at this lower level, more than likely because little effort was expended, of course, why bother, I'm not the clever one. The other more studious child performs well because expectations are higher and the work is done. It is probable that these children will carry these labels for many many years and believe it true right into their adult life, whereas in actual fact, it is likely that all along it was a complete fiction. How cruel is this!! The belief, and the performance to uphold the belief continue working together until... the belief is actually challenged, if it ever is!

I remember failing my French 'O' level many moons ago, the only exam I did fail and I was completely shocked. Looking back I really hadn't put the work in mainly because I hadn't engaged with the teachers. I did study hard for the exam though, but flunked it nevertheless. It was 'suggested' that I was probably just not a 'languages person'... I was given a few 'easy to accept excuses' to justify my disappointing performance... Oh I'm just bad at languages... that explains it!! Later I studied two languages, Thai and Hungarian, neither easy, in fact very hard, but I wanted to do it... And... I questioned myself on my belief about my 'language capabilities' and considered that if I can speak English pretty well I must have the minerals to be able to learn languages, so I challenged my belief... The belief I had held about myself was wrong (and it was suggested to me remember? but I chose to accept it nonetheless) ... All it required was to put in the effort, and now I was prepared to do that, the results came too!

Ok belief systems, they are not always true... and back to the conversations about beliefs I've been having at Link4Growth events. 'I believe' we have a very unequal society, I believe that greed and the endless chase for money has led to the slow but steady decline in community as people have been focussed on 'what's in it for me'. Capitalism and more of everything has people being valued by what they have, not the contribution to society they make. Profit rules... and at whatever cost and I personally (along with many others) believe that this is unsustainable as a model going forward, something must give. This is what I believe, but I also believe that it can be changed... I believe these things not just as a hunch based entirely on what I think, nor have these beliefs been fed to me by someone else. These beliefs stem from what I see out there in the real world and from talking to people, lots of people. I have witnessed that in general, and if encouraged ever so slightly, people are prepared to make significant contributions to society in all sorts of ways (not money, but skills, experience or connections), especially if it is something they love doing anyway!

I think discussions about this are some of the most interesting I have. Mostly people I talk to think it inconceivable that a different style of democracy from the system we have now is possible. I am not saying people are necessarily happy with what we have, I am saying that for many people the thinking style is 'learned helplessness'. It's painful, I don't like it... But it's what we've got... What can I / we do? ... It's the way it is... It's always been like this... Powerless... Apathy... Surrender... More of the same... We'll get a new political party, but things won't change, they're all alike these politicians, same bag of crisps just a different colour and different flavour... Still a bag of crisps though!

We are powerful, amazingly so, if only we were to stop giving our power away through blame and 'learned helplessness'... Together we are able to create the future we want... We just need to start believing we can... and get organised... And anyway, what have we got to lose?

I really do believe we can create a better more sustainable future than the one we have now. Is it really so hard to believe we can create change? The evidence that huge changes are possible are clear to see throughout history... Romans, Napoleon, Spain, America, British Empire, Hitler, Berlin Wall, and more recently the Arab spring, they've all come and gone. All of these represented fundamental changes, ok, the majority were also accompanied by much bloodshed too, but that doesn't have to be the case. Forcibly changing the way the country is run in a revolutionary style I personally don't think is the answer... What I believe we can achieve is creating a much better future for us all, by concentrating on 'what WE CAN do'... All of us can 'choose' to make a contribution to society in whichever way works for us... To do that we need to engage!! ... Engaging people 'I believe' is the key!

Change is one constant that is always with us... and the conditions for change are definitely upon us once more. There is much you can discover in the media to pander to your fears and worries, but whatever happens we will be stronger if we tackle them together as a team. I don't think there is a 'single individual' with the mental processing power to be able to predict what the world will be like in 2020. Some of it, yes, based on trends, but not all of it. I do believe though that if we can encourage collaboration, cooperation and the desire to create a more equal and fair society that between our collective minds we can create something that works for the vast majority not just a select few. I believe this with all my heart!

To motivate ourselves to pursue the better vision we might have for the future we must believe that it is possible. That belief must also be supported by us being able to 'take actions' that contribute to moving us along the journey to delivering on the belief. It's too big a job to consider the end game... A bit like when Tim Berners-Lee created the Internet, he had no idea (in any detail) where we would be by 2014... Or the ramifications of what was quite a simple information sharing idea back in 1993. The Internet is changing EVERYTHING! ... So back to our discussion... how do we enable people to be able to take action, join in and participate, in a way that suits them, when they want to? ... There really hasn't been an easy to engage, joined up initiative to achieve this until now. I believe that this conduit for us all to participate in creating a future we can be proud of is now here... And 'we' that means 'all of us'... can even help to make this happen globally! ... If that's how we want to participate.

To enable us to utilise this 'new conduit' I believe we must have some basic things in place

  1. we must be able to meet up, talk to each other, listen, learn and connect. Through conversations and connecting we can begin to make things happen by simply choosing to take action
  2. it must be accessible, people need to be able to find out about it easily and join in
  3. it must be affordable for all, no barriers to participate
  4. it must be simple to replicate and duplicate the ideas into new areas
  5. it needs to be locally delivered (so travel is a minimum) and kept relevant, things going on around us
  6. it needs to allow connection nationally (and internationally) to share best practice and expedite good ideas
  7. it needs to provide the capability for us to share our collective knowledge, expertise & experience
  8. it needs to give all of us the chance to contribute, be of value and service to our community, build our self esteem and be part of something much bigger than ourselves
  9. it needs to be unattached to any religious or political influence
  10. it needs to be free from any control by business or investment and a not for profit organisation

It's purpose is very simple...

  • for us to be able to create fairer more equal communities which work for the majority
  • to enable people to find out what they love doing and enable them to do it, i.e. be happy
  • live in a more sustainable and harmonious way with our planet, that goes for ourselves and those around us

To do the above I believe we need to change from a culture of focus on money, greed and blame... To one of taking responsibility for everything in our lives and a focus on what's really important... People and relationships... I accept that this is a 'big' change, but I believe that it is worth striving for.

In talking to many people I often hear the words... "You'll never be able to change people, people are inherently greedy, it's in our nature, people are born greedy" ... Really?? I believe this is learned behaviour, how could it be anything else, a new born baby is a white sheet of paper metaphorically speaking? ... No I don't believe people are born greedy and that's from my own personal experience... the reason I don't believe it is because I have changed from a learned behaviour... materialistic, money hungry capitalistic enthusiast to one who is no longer this. If I can change? ... I know that others can too... If they want? ... And that's the key... The only person who can change you is you... I'm not up for trying to change anyone... And if what we have isn't working for the majority at the moment but together we can create something more equal? ... It's got to be worth a go hasn't it?

So in conclusion how we think and what we do comes down to what we believe. If we believe that we are powerless to make changes and that life is 'being done to us' then we will continue to find the facts to support what we believe to be true (and it is our truth, not the only truth)... If on the other hand... You're a bit tired of where things are and you are ready to make some changes... let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes!

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