Believe It. Real And Permanent Behaviour Change Is Truely Possible For You.

In this article I’m going to share with you a powerful tool that anyone can use to change their life, no matter how long things have been the same. It involves changing your beliefs. And when that happens change is swift and enduring.

One of the most powerful ways to create the personal change we desire is through changing our beliefs.

There probably isn’t a person among us who hasn’t, at some time, made a resolution to change. Chances are you’ve tried it – and with mixed results.

But have you ever wondered why it is that some changes are easy and some are difficult? Why some people find it easy and some find it nearly (or completely!) impossible? Which are you…?

Can A Person Really Change? Yes, No, and Maybe…
This is an age-old question, and as it turns out the answer is whatever you believe it is!  “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”, quipped Henry Ford, and he was right!

Basically, there are two belief systems: a Fixed mindset or a Growth mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her career studying these two mindsets.
Her research results are clear: to reach your full potential, you need a Growth mindset.

Which mindset you have can help determine how dogged you’ll be in pursuing change.

People who believe in the Fixed mindset believe that your abilities are basically static, and they reflect the way you’re wired. Period. People who believe in the Growth mindset believe that abilities are like muscles – they can be built up with practice. That with effort you can get better.

The good news is that since it’s just a belief, you can choose your mindset.

How To Improve Your Life
Human beings are complex creatures, to be sure. So I suggest that rather than trying to ‘solve’ the complex conundrum which is the human being, we instead focus on what we can do about succeeding with personal change. In other words, how to improve your life by focussing on and changing what you think, rather than just focussing on what you do.

“When you change what you believe, you change what you do.”
– Spencer Johnson

Just exactly how can a person do this? A real life story might help here.

Meet Stan
Stan is a typical middle manager. He’s in charge of five managers and around a hundred people. Stan’s a good guy. He has a pleasant, easy going personality.
I knew from dealing with Stan that his intentions are definitely good.

Stan had a challenge though. When confronted with a disgruntled employee, things wouldn’t go the way he’d like – despite his best efforts –  and he could not understand where he was going wrong.

The Situation
Several people whom Stan had had conflicts with were bitterly disappointed with the outcomes. Little did they know, so was Stan. He would always try to be helpful and explain things, but that just seemed to make things worse. It was so sad – he would go for a win/win and instead create a lose/lose.

What on Earth was going on? Stan was at a loss about what to do. Then he did something very smart. He asked for help.

The Diagnosis
The key is to identify possible principles driving the behaviour. I had Stan talk me through his challenges. It quickly became apparent that he had some beliefs operating which were getting in the way of his success.

I knew right then that this problem was completely solvable – provided Stan was willing and able to change his beliefs, and replace them with better ones. So, I introduced Stan to the Belief Window: an extremely powerful tool for change.

How The Belief Window Works
The Belief Window is a metaphor for an invisible window which hangs in front of a person’s face and through which s/he perceives the world. Each person’s Belief Window contains statements of his/her own beliefs, which are called principles. All sensory data pass through it and are filtered by these principles.

In the words of the creator of the tool, Hyrum W. Smith:
“You look at the world through this window. You accept information from the world in through this window. On it you have placed thousands of principles that you have accepted as correct. We put principles on our Belief Windows because we believe they will help satisfy our needs.
The minute you put a principle on your belief window you immediately start to create new rules that will govern your behaviour based on the principle on your Belief Window.”

The Belief  Window influences the way you perceive yourself and others, the way you read situations, and the feelings you have about everything, especially yourself.

The Belief Window is a key component of the The Reality Model, which identifies how to achieve permanent behavioural change by altering how we look through our Belief Window.

Using the model is straightforward enough. It has five key components:
Human Needs: We have needs which we seek to meet: To live, to love and be loved, to feel important, and to experience variety.
Belief Window: A filtering system onto which we place principles. As we experience life we create principles and place them on our Belief Window.
Rules: We create rules for living based upon our principles.
Behaviours: We then take actions based upon our rules.
Results: There are outcomes which result from our actions. Sometimes our results are not what we want.

We’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over until we understand that if we want different results, we’ll have to change the principles on our Belief Window.

So Now, Back To Stan
Upon listening to Stan it was actually fairly easy to see where things were going wrong for him. Somewhere along the way he had accepted the belief that: “I must always answer questions on the spot, else I will be seen as incompetent and unknowledgeable”. He believed his needs were at risk of not being met…

When any of our needs are not being met, all of our energy flows to meeting them automatically. At light-speed, we start placing principles on our Belief Window, which we think will meet those needs.

There are three problems here:

One, Stan’s principle was not a true one – that he would be seen as incompetent because he was not able to provide a definitive answer on the spot. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for some time to gather important facts and information, and speak to relevant parties in order to provide a more comprehensive and higher quality answer.

I suggest most people would prefer a better answer over a ‘quick-and-dirty’ one, unless it’s a genuine emergency – and how many of those are there really?

Growth is the process of changing principles on your Belief Window.

Two – as highly effective people are always aware – they have greatest influence with others, when they help others get their needs met. Stan was trying to create a win/win, but when it didn’t work and the other party became angry, he would become stressed and vulnerable, driving him to seek to get his own needs met (although he was not consciously aware of this at the time).

Highly effective people are always aware that they have greatest influence when they help others get their needs met. This is the essence of win-win.

Three, a hidden issue is that in Myers-Briggs terminology, (pardon the jargon) Stan prefers Introversion – meaning, he needs time to think and reflect, before providing a quality answer. This is not a fault. It’s just the Introversion process.

Try On Some Empathy For Size…
Put yourself in Stan’s shoes for a minute. You’re in the midst of a conflict and you’re being pressed for answers. You immediately go into stress mode, because you need time to think and reflect on the data (which you don’t actually have!), before you can provide a quality answer, but you’ve got a principle on your Belief Window which states that “you must answer immediately, or you’ll come off as incompetent”. Phew!  No wonder Stan was having trouble. This is the definition of snookered!

The principle on the Belief Window has to change or the behaviour will never change.

So rather than ask for time to investigate the issue, gather the facts and formulate a reasonable response, Stan gave the only answer he could come up with in his stressed state – an explanation of why he did what he did. This only contributed to the conflict, and that’s when things would really go downhill…

All the other party heard was Stan justifying his position, and took it to mean he was being defensive and dismissing them and their concerns. Yikes! As you can imagine the conflict would escalate from there and the cycle would continue until both parties were frustrated, stressed and angry – placing conflict resolution out of reach.

They were just trying to meet their needs, and what they got instead was an apparent justification of why the grievance had occurred. Hmm…

The Prescription
The solution, although not easy, was simple: help Stan see that he had some false principles on his Belief Window and replace them with more empowering ones.

Stan’s belief that people wanted answers on the spot was not true – what people wanted was quite different. (I know because I actually checked with them.)

What they wanted was identical to what every upset customer also wants – to be heard and to be acknowledged. To be treated seriously, and with respect. To be empathised with; but not necessarily to be agreed with.

The people needed to know that their grievance was accurately understood, and that Stan was committed to finding the best resolution possible. They needed to know that something was going to be done about it, and they needed assurances that they’d be kept informed of progress, and involved in the solution, where practical and relevant.

Once Stan understood this, he was able to make the switch instantly. It was like a light went on in his head. He started using his new principles right away.

I was very pleased to see that within a week of Stan’s change, he was pro-actively seeking out his toughest challenges – to go for the win-win using his new perspective. And boy, did he succeed!

When the results from your behaviour do meet your needs over time, you experience inner peace, and it starts by getting a new principal on your Belief Window.

A 180 Degree Turnaround
Stan still had to deal with a person who had their mind made up about him, and was not open to a win-win, but when he changed his approach and started meeting their needs, the situation defused within minutes! (Note: that is not an exaggeration).

We couldn’t help but overhear a lot of very loud vocalisation of the upset person emanating from the meeting room, but when I spoke to her just minutes after the meeting, she said she was very happy with the outcome and it went great!

It is truely amazing what using correct principles can do for a person’s influence and effectiveness with people.

Stan’s new principle will continue to deliver for him for the rest of his life.

Through this short parable I’ve demonstrated that it is not hyperbole that powerful, permanent, personal change can happen quickly for anyone – provided they are equipped with the right tools, an understanding of how to use them correctly, and a Growth mindset. It would also help to be optimistic.

Now, What Are You Going To Do About It?
This is one of my favourite coaching questions. It places responsibility for a person’s life squarely where it’s supposed to be – with the individual. Do you seek change for yourself, or perhaps, is there somebody in your life that could benefit from the Belief Window? Go ahead and give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Did this article help you? Please let me know by clicking Like.
Do you know of people who would gain benefit from it? Please Share it with them, or your social media networks.
Or have you got a perspective to share? Please share your comments, so that we can all benefit from your perceptive and enhance our Belief Windows.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck 
Hyrum W. Smith (on Wikipedia)


Craig D’Souza is the founder and CEO of Perth based consultancy Business Velocity, which assists organisations, teams, and individuals to achieve peak performance at work and in their lives.

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