I ran across a compelling Ted Talk that powerfully illustrates how we unintentionally create what we expect in the world, NOT what we necessarily want.
While the examples in the talk weren’t business related, it made me wonder. If you want your team to work together better, but you don’t really expect them to, does that doom their ability to change? If you want to grow this year, but you don’t expect that you will make more than incremental progress, does that mean you are preventing yourself from growing? If you want more time during your day, but you don’t expect that your to do list will ever shrink, are you preventing yourself from seeing the light of day?
And the most important question of all: What if you WANT to set high expectations for a change you care a lot about, and you don’t even KNOW that you have a subconscious belief that says it will never happen?
Here’s the talk, along with some questions you can use to ‘catch’ any unwarranted expectations (or beliefs) that might be inadvertently driving you down the wrong path:
At Aspyrre we do a lot of what I call ‘belief work’, which is the process of ‘catching’ expectations that could be driving patterns in our lives. (We consider an expectation to be a belief in action.)
There are two parts to belief work I do: (1) Identify beliefs and assumptions you didn’t even realize were there, and then (2) Reconsider the assumptions – or testing the beliefs to see if they are really true or not. This way, if you find the belief is NOT true, you are then able to replace it with a new belief, which will help you to create lasting change in that area.
Here’s how we do these steps:
1. Identify Limiting Beliefs (or Expectations)
We look for patterns of contradictions in your life, where you want one thing but consistently don’t get it despite your efforts. It feels like you are banging your head against the wall, or maybe sabotaging yourself. We identify the inner conflict and bring it to your awareness, so you can see the two different sets of assumptions warring with each other in your mind. Once you see the conflict clearly, then you can take steps to resolve it.
Some initial questions you can ask yourself to help identify limiting beliefs or expectations:
- Where in my life do I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall?
- When people or situations push my buttons, what is the pattern they seem to have in common?
- When I beat myself up, what is it I say to myself over and over again?
- When I get angry with others, what is it they seem to be “doing to me”?
- What do I want more of in my life, but haven’t yet proven to myself that I can get?
2. Change the Limiting Beliefs (or Expectations)
Some people would have you do hundreds of positive affirmations in order to replace limiting beliefs with more positive beliefs. I don’t agree with this method, because it seems to me you are just perpetuating the inner conflict by trying to force yourself to believe something you know isn’t true.
Instead, our approach is to have you ask yourself a series of questions and find the answers. You actually rethink, reconsider, re-examine, and re-learn by observing the world and looking for evidence you didn’t pay attention to before.
- Given my personality and the situations I faced early in life, how might I have concluded that this was true?
- What perspective was I missing then?
- Who do I know that doesn’t seem to see life this way? What experiences led them to their conclusions?
- When I get upset, what is the story I tell myself in my head? What are three completely different ways of interpreting the situation?
- What evidence would I need to see in the world to make me change my mind? Where would I find it?
We form beliefs in the first place by evaluating situations, and noticing patterns. Once our beliefs become assumptions we no longer pay attention to evidence that might refute them because it seems like a waste of time.
Why re-question whether or not intelligent people are successful, or the sky is blue, or 2+2=4 unless something comes up that makes it worth the effort?
It’s only worth the effort if your current view of the world is the exact thing that holds you back.
What if you could see all of your assumptions and re-assess the ones you didn’t like? What if you really expected great things to happen, and those expectations started influencing the world around you? When you change your belief or expectation, the mind begins to figure out ways to bring the new beliefs into reality!