Beliefs Are Bad For Business

Beliefs are sneaky.  Beliefs influence our ability and restrict opportunities often without us even being aware that we have them.  It’s a sound business practice to frequently examine and question your beliefs.

Beliefs can limit flexibility and openness while promoting rigidity.  Rigidity tends to limit opportunity.  Incredibly we often believe things for which we have no proof, especially when it comes to matters of self-assessment.

Belief is putting regard in something as true. This wide range of synonyms astounded me because they all can be used to describe a belief even though they inspire quite different meaning strength.

Synonyms: acceptance, admission, assent, assumption, assurance, avowal, axiom, certainty, conclusion, confidence, conjecture, conviction, credence, credit, deduction, divination, expectation, faith, fancy, feeling, guess, hope, hypothesis, idea, impression, intuition, judgment, knowledge, mind, mindset, notion, opinion, persuasion, position, postulation, presumption, presupposition, profession, reliance, supposition, surmise, suspicion, theorem, theory, thesis, thinking, trust, understanding, view.

Some beliefs can seem very flimsy, especially when we think of a belief as an assumption, a guess, a notion or merely a feeling.

But that’s how all beliefs take root.  We hear someone say something or read it and we assume it to be true.  A statement can be made about your own capacity or about business in general and you could lose out because of your belief in that statement.

Anyone and everyone occasionally can get down on herself or himself.  The good news is that we don’t have to get down and stay there.  Worrying about beliefs is wasteful.  It’s far more productive to use language and questioning to challenge our limiting beliefs.

Worry is an abuse of imagination.  Steve Chandler

Of course not all beliefs are limiting or negative some can be very inspiring.  But even positive beliefs can be limiting.  It makes me question whether we’d be better off without beliefs at all. Would it really matter if we just experienced life in the moment as it comes?

Here are some empowering questions to challeneg and refresh your beliefs.

What do I believe that does not serve me well about my business or myself?

Can I point to proof that supports this belief?

What would I rather believe?

What do I want to believe about my business or myself?

What could I do now to create what I want?

What limiting beliefs would I be better off simply letting go?

What one thing am I creating that uplifts me?

How could I increase my willingness to start fresh with a beginners mind and boldly create that thing?


  1. Good stuff.

    One of the practices we have at work is testing our assumptions. We also expose our thinking so that it can be questioned from different angles. It helps flesh out thinking as well as find limiting assumptions.

    On a personal note, I find just checking assumptions and being aware of automatic thoughts goes a long way.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..PM Skills for Life =-.

  2. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul says:

    I usually tell people “Whatever you believe is true.” There’s nothing wrong with our beliefs – as long as they serve us!

    Our beliefs are reflected in the reality we create for ourselves. If we’re creating a reality we don’t enjoy (i.e. a lack of business and financial success) there are probably a few beliefs in play that need re-examination.

    The more attached we are to being “right” or to something being “true” the more stuck we get on our beliefs. It’s when we allow ourselves to be in a space of not-knowing that our beliefs lessen their grip.


  3. Beliefs have limited my ability to think in grand fashion. I’ve been practicing working with my thoughts on this issue. As a belief pops in my head I make sure not to blindly believe it’s true. I try to step back and ask questions like you posed.

    Making sure to ask the right question is the key. When we can break down a belief, we can see through it’s false nature.

    This isn’t easy and I do struggle with this concept, but the more I practice the better i get.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..How do I make my people happy? =-.

  4. J.D. – Yes I am almost always amazed at the assumptions that I make especially regarding the intentions and motivations of others. I more often off the mark than on so now I always question my first reaction by asking. What else could this mean?

    Andrea – I agree with everything that you’ve said. Beliefs are neither good nor bad but they can limit us and dictate our actions especially when we are too close minded like you suggested.

    Karl – Yep, practice can almost make this automatic. All it takes is a willingness to have some of our long-standing beliefs challenged in the interest of progress or growth.

  5. Tom,
    I enjoyed reading your post – thank you for your straight forward lists and questions.

    With a special needs child, I found I had to question every assumption and belief as quickly as possible, because they were so limiting for her future – she is now a college graduate and just got a job….but it was often a lonely position to be in – very little support in that world. My child was adopted and many said, “why did you do that?” in disbelief and the assumption of my craziness. I can see how hard it is for parents who have produced their own child with restrictions or big problems…

    On a lighter note I want to share this story:

    The new bride was fixing a pot roast for her new husband and he was standing nearby watching her efforts. First she cut off one end of the roast and then she cut off the other end…he asked her why she had done that, because he had never seen any of the cooks in his life do that before. She thought it was to make the meat more tender, but she would call her Mother and ask her, as he mother had always done that. Her Mother repeated the “tender’ idea but stated that her Mother had always done that too; she would call and ask her. Grandmother said – Oh Pooh! to the whole tender idea but stated, “I always had to cut the ends off a roast because I never had a pan big enough!…”

    Makes one think and question!
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Part II: The case for Eliminating Wall Street =-.

  6. I think we need beliefs because the world is bigger than our brains.

    This laptop I’m typing on I’m pretty sure I don’t understand the workings of – so I believe what computer people tell me. As long as it checks out in my experience. (If they try and tell me that microsoft software is great I don’t believe them – imagine a product that people would PAY to go back to an earlier version of – that company doesn’t deserve to be in business!)

    P.S. I’m getting a message saying Comluv had an error with my feed. When I click to learn more it just takes me back to the post again.

  7. Great questions posed Tom. I have printed them off to give it more time and pondering. Since we are all thinking people I don’t know how we would ever be able to not have beliefs. But I do think your questions would help people sift through their beliefs and see how the beliefs are helping or hurting their cause. Your questions take me another layer out from where I am. I am hoping to have some new ideas that wouldn’t have happened without this direction. Thanks for the post.

  8. I’m reminded of Richard Bach’s saying – Struggle enough for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.

    Always challenge your beliefs.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..How to dramatically increase your optin list with ease =-.

  9. Very insightful post and questions, as well as comments.

    Read your post last night and happened to come across the following this morning while doing research. It seemed relevant to what you were saying here. One “window to our world” view or beliefs is what we say – by observing the language we use in speaking and writing we can often get past the inherent limitation of our own ability to see the beliefs that are blinding us.

    “The constraints of how we speak and write are not imposed by the limits of language, but by the ways we actually think of our ordinary experiences.”

    p. 8 The Poetics of Mind: Figurative thought, language and understanding.

    Here’s the link if anyone is interested…
    .-= Susan Mazza´s last blog ..Change is Good BUT I’d Rather Do It Later =-.

  10. I read so many blog posts that don’t explain what a belief is or give an example of one, but go on for two-thousand words about that power and dangers of beliefs, how to harness them, analyze them, etc. But they never answer the question: “What is a belief?” This post is another one of those, unfortunately.

  11. Suzanne @ vAssistant Services says:

    The whole idea of beliefs and how we’ve come to have the ones we have intrigues me endlessly.

    When a person gets hit in the head and wakes up with amnesia, one of the biggest contributors to the gaping hole they face is the absence of their belief system. Everything is up for inspection. I’m sure it’s wildly frightening to have that “rug” pulled out from under you, but I must admit to a certain envy, because when the beliefs are gone, so are the limits.

    So, one of the things I do when I become aware that a particular belief of mine may be limiting me is give myself a case of faux-amnesia. I “wake up” and tell myself that the opposite belief is true. Then I see how different that makes me feel. Almost always, I find that the former limiting belief is a load of crap. 🙂
    .-= Suzanne @ vAssistant Services´s last blog ..WordPress Summer Camp is Coming! =-.

  12. Patricia – Yep I have loved that pot roast story since I first heard it many years ago. I heard it used in the to illuminate an assumption that many sales people had about when was the best time to call on clients. The right answer is – anytime you’re willing to make the call is the best time. Congrats for challenging the limits with your child’s upbringing.

    Evan – I agree we do need some beliefs in order to function but it’s the possible limiting nature of them that causes under-performance.

    Laurie – I know that for brief periods of time I am served well by having no preconceptions. I think it may be possible to simply be in the moment and act on what we want to act on in the way we want to act. There is a whole lot of room between no beliefs and too many and in that space is where we find opportunity.

    Barbara – Well said on both counts. If we don’t question them – who will?

    Susan – language always fascinates me because it does shine a light on our beliefs. Just by making simple changes in verb tense we can move form stalled to confident. Thanks for that link.

    Richard – 49 synonyms weren’t enough for you huh? 🙂 At least my post was only about 500 words. 🙂 Seriously, I appreciate you sharing your frustration. Please let me know if I’ve hit the mark with this response.

    Like I said in the post, a belief is anything that we regard to be true. Beliefs are selective according to our experience and perspective and that’s why they limit. An example, I believe that employment is slavery. I believe this because I see 90% of folks complaining about their work and the ones complaining are primarily employees. They are not self-employed where simple freedoms are enjoyed. That’s a belief I have that runs counter to limiting societal beliefs like, security only comes from employment. Actually many of those same folks that want security always seem to gravitate to so called safe jobs where they are paid not on merit but on years of service.

    So regarding employment or self-employment there are a whole lot of beliefs on both sides of the question. But all of them can be challenged and changed. So I look at a belief as something that I may think to be true today but may not believe to be true tomorrow. Beliefs simply provide a structure around our actions. Change the beliefs and often we can see openings that we could see previously because the belief closed off access to that possibility. What further explanation do you want?

  13. Insightful post, Tom.

    I would believe something that makes me feel good and challenges my own beliefs than something that limits my imagination and forces to think in a way that I’m not personally comfortable with.

    We should always constantly question our beliefs and see if our comfort zones can handle it.
    .-= John´s last blog ..Be Yourself and Stop Emulating the Masses =-.

  14. Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching says:

    One thing I’ve seen when it comes to beliefs is that I seem to have some ideas about how much joy and abundance I’m entitled to in my life — that I start getting nervous when I hit the “ceiling.” It’s a vulnerable, childlike feeling I get when I hit that point, and I guess it’s just a matter of fully breathing that feeling in.

  15. Hi Tom. Pretty much 99% of the time when I land on one of your posts, I find myself thinking “Why didn’t I think of that one?” 🙂 When I read “worry is an abuse of imagination” I found myself thinking of a wild cat being put in a cage”. I think it is good to have a belief as long as we don’t hide behind it or become to attached to it. I love asking my clients, “What proof do you have of that?” and hear them sigh as they realize they are clinging to an illusion. Love it!
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Roaming with the Metaphor =-.

  16. Suzanne – I love that, faux-amnesia. That’s a wonderful idea just to see what we are really believing. Strip it down and see what remains. Life is all a beautiful, wonderful choice.

    John – Welcome. yes our imagination is such a gloriously powerful creator, I can’t see what y anyone would ever want to limit it with something as frightful as beliefs.

    Chris – Wow that child-like vulnerable feeling sounds like a wonderful place to find oneself. Yes breathe into it and look around in wonder.

    Davina – Good job Coach. We all need to be illusion busters every day and then more folks would just do what they want to do. That would create a wonderfully happy world.

  17. Hi Tom. After reading your post, and your wonderful responses, I have to say that there’s an abundance of value in this post and in the following comments. It reminds me of the movie “Dogma”, and how one of the central themes is that it is harmful to have beliefs, because people cling to them, and die for them. It is very hard to change a belief, so people should just have ideas. Ideas are flexible, and being flexible in life is much more important than being “right”.

    I try not to have too many beliefs, but maybe I should try that “faux amnesia” idea. That’s great stuff. After all, any belief that’s worth it’s salt should withstand any amount of challenge to it.
    .-= Trey – Swollen Thumb Entertainment´s last blog ..Why Money Can’t Buy Happiness =-.

  18. There’s a zen saying that “In the beginner’s mind – the options are many – in the expert’s mind they are few.”

    It would follow that the more of an “expert” you are in your field – the more susceptible you are to being limited by your beliefs.

    I love your reply to Suzanne “Life is all a beautiful, wonderful choice.” The more choices – the more wonder and glory!
    .-= Kathy | Virtual Impax´s last blog ..Social Media: It’s a Moral Imperative =-.

  19. I just returned from a 9-day Avatar course, which is all about beliefs – the ones you knew you had and the ones you didn’t, because they were hidden in the unconsicous. I knew intellectually that my beliefs create my reality and that my false beliefs could potentially limit my life. But it was a mind-blower to discover beliefs I didn’t know I had that were running almost everything! Only when unconscious beliefs are brought to consciousness and integrated do you have the power to choose what you want to keep and what you want to discreate. Yes, discreate – energetically. How cool is that?! This is a topic that is not spoken about often enough, in my opinion, and I thank you for bringing it up and for all your insights!
    .-= Lisa Zimmerman´s last blog ..Solar Eclipse in Cancer – July 21 ‘09 =-.

  20. Trey – I also loved the mind expanding nature of that movie. Yep I expose so many beliefs that no longer serve me well that I no longer hold tightly to any of them. Life feels lighter without so many heavy beliefs.

    Kathy – I’m pleased that you liked it and I know that you also celebrate life with a no holds barred kind of attitude. Thanks for visiting and I am quite curious to read your post that comment luv pulled up.

    Lisa – Mind blowing is a great picture. I used to lead a guided meditation where we imagined little scrubbers and vacuums running in every nook and cranny of our minds. It was quite refreshing as was your comment.

  21. If I could change out the assumptions with courage and confidence, then, I think I would be set for the next step! 😉 I really like what you and J.D. said about this.. I think that will help to fight back or get beyond them when the thoughts arise again.

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