The Power of Belief

Henry Ford once said, “If you believe you can do a thing, or if you believe you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  It’s one of my favorite quotations.  Another well-known quotation regarding belief comes from Napoleon Hill, in his groundbreaking book Think and Grow Rich (published in 1947, it’s apropos today as the day it was written): “What the mind of man can conceive, and believe [my emphasis], it can achieve.” You’ve probably already been told a version of the following famous sales story which concretely illustrates these oft-used quotations, as well as anything I’ve ever heard:

A shoe salesperson was sent to open up a new territory on a Pacific island.  After a week, he sent a telegram to the home office: “Whoever came up with this idea ought to be shot at dawn—they don’t wear shoes here.”  The company sent a second salesperson to the same island.  She sent a telegram, too; it read, “Whoever came up with this idea is a genius—they all need shoes.”

You’re no doubt familiar with the term “Self-Limiting Belief.”  Shoe-salesperson-Number-One’s attitude is a perfect example of a self-limiting belief.  The people on the island didn’t wear shoes, ergo he couldn’t sell them any.  Shoe-Salesperson-Number-Two’s attitude held no such limiting-belief: her mindset told her that they all needed her product—they didn’t wear shoes…yet; and she was enthusiastically going to take care of that need to be filled.  Her belief system was wide open; she was not imprisoned by any constricting negative thoughts, beliefs.

How about you?  Remember, “If you believe you can do a thing, or if you believe you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  Is your belief system wide open, or are you imprisoned by your own self-imposed thoughts and beliefs?  Do you just accept the “obvious,” or do you challenge it, look for avenues of achievement your peers are simply blind to?

Here’s another famous tale which makes the point: The legendary Aristotle once dropped a rock and a feather from a great height, and because the rock fell to the ground so much quicker than the feather, he determined that the heavier an object is, the faster it will fall.  This was a scientific law for 18 centuries, until Galileo dropped two different sized-and-weighted objects and determined that, unless impeded by air currents, all objects fall at the same speed—32 feet per second squared.  It took 18 centuries for someone to have a belief system open enough to question the great Aristotle.  Ridiculous, huh?