Your work beliefs affect your resiliency and performance.
"The voice in the head tells a story that the body believes in and reacts to. Those reactions are the emotions. The emotions, in turn, feed the energy back to the thoughts that created the emotion in the first place. This is the vicious circle between unexamined thoughts and emotions, giving rise to emotional thinking and emotional story-making."
What story do you tell yourself about yourself? Have you considered how your beliefs may be affecting your performance? On Intentional Workplace.com, communications consultant Louise Altman describes how some work beliefs support your growth while others hinder you. Thoughts like "I am capable of continuous improvement" and "I can find the time I need to accomplish what I really want" are examples of supportive beliefs. Thoughts like "I'm a Type A personality and I can't change how impatient I am" or "Others are not as committed as I am to giving forth best effort" are beliefs that can damage your ability to perform and grow.
Most of us operate in the world through unexamined beliefs, scripts that we've taken on based upon childhood experiences, educational, familial or social expectations, without ever questioning whether or not they truly fit the person we are or want to become. We allow ourselves to be imprisoned by these beliefs.
Geoffrey James of Inc.com points out that most of us spend too much time focusing on things out of our range of control -- past experiences and what other people are thinking -- rather than focusing on what they can control: our attitude, behaviour, emotions and beliefs.
Altman emphasises that although much emphasis is placed on corporate culture alignment, no individual can align with corporate culture until they first understand their own beliefs and values.
How do you really think about time, for instance? Do you believe you do have enough time to do everything you want? Do you believe you can manage your time well? Are you able to prioritise? Do you realise that focusing on one thing at a time works much better than multitasking?
What do you think about the way others work? Are you a perfectionist? A micromanager? Have you looked at how your inner beliefs about others can affect not only their performance but also yours? One of the worst outcomes of these beliefs is that you may believe you can change other people. Altman stresses that it is yourself that you can change, the way you interact with others, and these changes may influence other people in a positive way but true change must come from within the individual.
At the other pole are people who don't take responsibility for anything, who believe that everything is someone else's fault -- workers, management, an organisation, and the world. This kind of belief doesn't lead to self-growth.
Another belief that can limit your career is not believing that you are deserving or worthwhile. If you don't really believe that you can become successful, it's likely that you will make decisions and take actions that cause this to be true.
On Sources of Insight.com, JD Meier stresses that taking stock of your beliefs and working to create a positive belief system can increase your resilience in your professional life. If you work out that your self-worth doesn't have to be based on achievement as it is defined by others, if you don't feel entitled or undeserving, if you understand that mistakes are the way we learn, then you can "roll with the punches" and take the ups and downs of your career in stride without being waylaid by them.
Meier has read "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated" by Dr David Burns. This book describes both self-defeating beliefs and supportive beliefs. Burns advises that you become aware of attitudes that affect your self-esteem, that you check in with unquestioned assumptions that affect your self-worth, that you check to see whether your beliefs are helping or hurting you, and that you learn to adopt healthy ways of thinking.
Examples of silent assumptions include things like: "If someone criticises me that means something is wrong with me," "My worth depends upon my achievements," and "If I don't perform perfectly, I have failed."
The attitudes you should examine involve those surrounding achievement, approval, autonomy, entitlement, love, omnipotence and perfectionism. Think of these things as existing upon a scale or range of beliefs and figure out where you fall.
Self-defeating beliefs or attitudes about achievement are: thinking of yourself as a commodity, having to be a workaholic, and connecting economic and emotional depression. Harmful beliefs concerning approval are constantly evaluating yourself through other people's eyes or feeling worthless if you are criticised. Self-defeating scripts around autonomy involve feeling that outside people or events affect your ability to be happy or worthy. If you feel entitled, you expect others to fulfill your needs and are easily frustrated or depressed when these needs aren't met. You're also less likely to do what you need to do to get what you want out of life. Your beliefs about omnipotence can cause you to be overly responsible for others, or to blame yourself for things that aren't under your control. Your beliefs concerning perfectionism obviously affect you and your work career in a number of ways.
What are healthier alternatives? In terms of achievement, you can learn that your productivity doesn't have to be linked to your self-esteem. In terms of approval, you can learn that your self-worth doesn't have to be destroyed by the criticism of others. If you're autonomous, you understand that how you feel depends upon what you think. If you rank lower on the entitlement scale, you aren't easily frustrated or impatient when things don't go your way. If you rank lower on the omnipotence scale, you won't try to control others and they will gravitate towards you, you recognise interdependence and become a better collaborator. When you aren't too perfectionist, you can feel rewarded by progress rather than absolute outcomes and you see mistakes as learning processes.
I use very powerful profiling tool Life Style Inventory designed to increase self-awareness, professional effectiveness and distinguish those underlying beliefs that hamper one's success and overall life satisfaction. Feel free to get in contact with me for more details.
The writer is an executive coacQh and HR training and development expert. She can be reached at email@example.com or www.academiaofhumanpotential.com. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy
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