When you want to start a new path in life or change yourself in some way, how high up your priority list do you rank working on your belief and mindset? Do you focus a lot of your time on your mindset, or do you just dive in and try to find the strategies that you need to be successful?

For a lot of people, the first questions they ask tend to be along the lines of “how do I do it?”, “what’s the best way to do it?”, “what strategy do I need?”, “how do I learn the tactics?” etc. These are good questions, but the right time to ask them is not at the start of the process. 

Let me give you an example…

An experiment on the power of belief

A team of researchers placed a glass barrier across the middle of an empty room, seperating the room in half. They let a dog into the room on one side of the glass barrier, and on the other side of the glass barrier, they placed a delicious piece of meat. The dog went for the meat, and banged its nose on the glass barrier. It tried again and again, but couldn’t get through. 

The next day they did the same thing. The dog tried to get the meat, but kept banging its nose again. The following day, the dog tried a little more, but this time gave up quite quickly. And on the fourth day, the dog didn’t even try to get the meat.

However on the 5th day, the researchers removed the glass barrier from the room before they let the dog into the room. When the dog was let in, they placed the delicious piece of meat in front of the dog the same as before. The dog sat there, looking at the meat, but never made any effort to get it. There was absolutely nothing stopping it from eating the meat, but it had developed a belief that it couldn’t get to the meat, and so didn’t even try.


Testing the process on humans

The researchers then decided to test this theory on humans. The hypothesis was that humans, with their far bigger brains and capacity for thinking, would perform much better than the dog. 

So they took a group of people, and placed them in a room. The people were then told through an intercom, that they could leave the room at any time that they wished throughout the experiment. To start the experiment, the researchers turned the temperature of the room up to an unbearably high heat. A number of people got up to leave the room, but found that the doors were locked.

The researchers then released horrific smells into the room, increased the humidity of the room, dropped the temperature of the room to freezing, and a number of other changes designed to cause extreme discomfort. This process went on for around 60 minutes, before the experiment finally finished. 

At the end of the experiment, the participants were asked why none of them left the room. They all explained that the doors were locked so they couldn’t leave. It was at this point, that the researchers revealed that every door into that room had been unlocked, 5 minutes into the 60 minute experiment. 

A dog took 4 days to form a belief that it couldn’t do something. And for humans? It took just one single failed attempt before developing that same belief…

The power of believing in yourself

The story above is a perfect example of the power of believing in yourself, or in the case of the participants, the power of not believing in yourself. 

If a belief that is instilled so quickly can have such a drastic effect on the outcome, what does this mean for beliefs that have been built up over years and years? Beliefs that you’re not good enough, or that you can’t do something, or that something isn’t possible… are devastating. I want to put this in perspective of the experiment above.

Imagine that you want to learn how to start an online marketing business for example. When learning how to start an online business most people would try to find out how to do it, then find out how affiliate marketing works, then find out how to create landing pages and email lists, then find out how to market through different channels … You get the picture. The focus is all about tactics and strategies. 

In the experiment, the strategy required was pretty straightforward: Know how to open a door. Every person in that room had already learned the skillset of opening a door. Everyone knew how to operate a door handle, and pull or push the door causing it to open. If someone in the room didn’t know how to open a door, teaching them HOW to open a door would have had absolutely zero impact on the outcome, if that person did not believe that the door could be opened. ‘Knowing the strategy’, was utterly overruled by the belief of what was possible. 

This is the same for learning to market online for example. A person can learn every tactic in the world about how to actually do it, but if that person doesn’t believe that they can achieve the outcome themselves, the best case scenario is that they try a couple of things that don’t work, and then give up. 

With the belief that the doors could have been opened, the people in that room would have put far more effort into actually opening those doors. 


An important distinction…

What I’m not saying here, is to blindly keep banging your head against a brick wall until you get the outcome that you want. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing again and again, but expect a different outcome. 

In the experiment, this does not mean just standing in front of the door pulling the handle again and again and again just hoping it would open. The participants would have been better off trying a door, then trying that door more firmly, then trying to pick the lock, then trying to kick it down, then trying a different door, then trying to take the hinges off, etc… The point is that if they believed that those doors could have been opened, they would have kept trying and trying different strategies and tactics until they found what worked, and the door opened. 

The power of believing in themselves, would have given them the drive that they needed to push through and keep going until they achieved the outcome that they wanted. 

So how can you use this example of the power of believing in yourself, in your life right now? 

This is a brilliant subject to talk about and I’ll be going into a lot more detail about this in future posts, but for now the crucial starting point is to focus on your goals and your vision for the future. If your vision for the future is crystal clear, and you have a distinct image of who you want to be, where you want to live, what you want to be doing, how you want to be doing it, who with, and all of the other things that will form a part of your life 5, 10 or even more years from now… Then that’s a great building block to help you construct a belief set that will drive you towards that vision.

When creating your vision, you must think outside of the limitations of what you “perceive” to be possible right now. Questions to ask yourself while painting the perfect image of your life are:

  • If I had limitless money, what would my life look like? Who would I be? What would I do? Where would I spend my time? 
  • If I was 10 times bolder, what would my life look like? Who would I be? What would I do? Where would I spend my time? 
  • If I could instantly fastforward 5 years, what would I want my life around me to look like to make me feel fulfilment and happiness?

When forming your vision, you must take away the restrictions and limiting beliefs that you put on yourself. Restrictions such as money, what you think you can and can’t do, what you think is within your realms of possibility and what isn’t. Remove these from your thinking, and then you can become crystal clear about what YOU actually want, not what you think you have to settle for. Remove these limitations from your thinking, and you’ll start to grow until your vision and the outcome that you desire starts to fall within the realms of possibility. 

Your subconscious works towards making what you hold in your mind, your reality. If you focus on your vision every day and you’re crystal clear about what you want, things start to happen in the world around you that can help move you towards that outcome. You start noticing opportunities that you’d have completely overlooked before. You’ll start making more progress than you ever have. Yes there’s a lot more to it than just imagining it and hoping it will magic itself into existance, but this is the basic building block that will start you down the path towards where you want to get to. 

A satnav can’t direct you where to go if there’s no destination. Your subconscious is the satnav. Tell it where you want to go, and it will start guiding you along the right route to help you get there. 

NOTE: You can now read the follow up post “The power of believing yourself – Part 2. How do you create belief?” by clicking here

You can find other blog posts via the links to the right as well. Thanks for reading,

To your success,

Dan Holloway