Chapter 4: My Beliefs Power Of Building And Power Of Destroying
“Our thoughts are like the veil of the spirit,
It contains all the beliefs that we express in life.” -Antonio Machado
He was bitter and brutal,
an alcoholic and drug addict
who committed suicide several times
but did not die.
Today he received a life sentence
for the attempted murder of a liquor store cashier
for “getting in the way” of him.
He has two sons.
Only eleven months apart.
One of them grew up just like his father:
a drug addict who lived by stealing and stealing
until he himself went to jail because of my murder.
But the other was different:
he grew up and became the father of three children,
a warm, happy family.
Now he is the director of a large national company
and he enjoys the challenging
but also satisfying job.
not addicted to alcohol or drugs.
How can two young people born
and raised in the same environment be so different?
People were asked individually,
“Why is your life the way it is?” strangely,
both gave the same answer:
“How could I be any different
when I grew up with a father like that?”.
We are often tempted
to assume that the circumstances that govern our lives
and the environment have woven us into who we are today.
There’s nothing more wrong than that.
It is not the circumstances that weave our lives,
but our beliefs that give meaning
to the circumstances.
Two Women have just celebrated their 70th birthday,
but each sees the event differently.
A woman “knows” that her life is over.
“When you live with an open heart,
joyful things happen.”— Oprah Winfrey
For her, 70 years of life have crippled her body
and she should think about death.
The other woman believes that
what a person can do depends on her beliefs
and so she set a higher ideal for herself.
She believes that rock climbing is a suitable sport for her age.
Over the next 25 years she embarked on this new adventure
and climbed some of the world’s highest peaks and today,
at the age of 90,
Hulda Crooks has become the world’s oldest woman Climb to the top of Mount Fuji.
You see, what weaves our lives today and tomorrow is not our circumstances,
but the meaning we give to the circumstances we live in.
Faith is what makes the difference between a joyful life of dedication
and a life of misery and destruction.
Faith turns some people into heroes,
while others into doomed human beings.
“Drugs are not always necessary,
but the certainty of healing is always needed.” -Norman Cousins
I have been fortunate to have known Norman Cousins for almost 7 years now
and I was also fortunate
to have recorded an interview with him a month before his death.
During the interview,
he shared with me a story that demonstrates
how powerfully our beliefs affect our bodies.
At a soccer game in Monterey Park,
a suburb of Los Angeles,
several people showed symptoms of food poisoning.
The medical examiner concluded that
the cause was in the beverage at the vending machine,
because all the people who
were poisoned had bought drinks there.
An announcement was played over a loudspeaker warning against buying water
from a vending machine
because someone had been poisoned
and describing the symptoms of poisoning.
An atmosphere of panic filled the stands
and a series of people fainted upon hearing the news.
Even people who have never been near a water vending machine get sick!
Ambulances rushed to take the sick to the hospital.
When it was discovered that
the fault was not in the beverage vending machine,
immediately those who
were already sick felt miraculously cured.
“I want every day to be a fresh
start on expanding what is possible.”— Oprah Winfrey
We need to understand that our beliefs have the power to make us sick
or make us well right away.
Beliefs have been shown to affect our immune system.
beliefs can give us the brunt of action,
or can weaken
and destroy our motivation.
So, if we want to control our lives,
we must consciously control our beliefs.
And to do this,
we must first understand what trust is and how it is formed.
What Is Belief?
Many people see belief as a thing,
but it is actually a feeling of certainty about something.
If you say you’re smart, you mean,
“I feel sure I’m smart.”
This sense of certainty allows you
to unleash the energies that enable you
to produce intelligent results.
We all have the answers to most things within us,
or at least we can find the answers we need from others.
But we often lack faith,
lack of certainty,
preventing us from using the abilities that
are already within us.
Simple examples make it easy
to understand what beliefs are.
Come up with an idea.
You can come up with tons of ideas,
but you don’t really believe them.
do you have the idea that you are a hot girl?
Stop for a moment and
say in your heart,
“I’m an attractive girl.”
Whether this statement is a good idea
or a belief depends on how certain you feel about saying it.
If you think,
“Actually, I’m not attractive,”
what you really mean is,
“I’m not sure I’m attractive.”
How to turn an idea into a belief?
I would like to offer you a metaphor for ease of understanding.
Suppose you can think of a table top without legs.
It helps you understand
why some ideas are as uncertain as a belief.
the tabletop cannot stand.
On the contrary, faith has legs.
If you truly believe,
“I am attractive”,
how do you know you are attractive?
“This year I am choosing
to live beyond my wildest dreams.
I wonder where they’ll take me.”— Oprah Winfrey
Surely you have evidence to support your idea,
life experiences to support it.
Those experiences are the legs that make your countertop stand,
Once you understand what a belief is,
you can begin to learn how your belief is formed,
as well as how you can change it.
First of all, we can develop our beliefs about anything,
as long as we find enough facts,
proven experiences to build that belief.
Assuming you have quite a bit of experience in life,
or you know people
who have had a sour relationship with others,
you can develop the belief that people are evil
and that if given the opportunity,
people will take advantage of you.
if you had life experiences to back up the idea
that if you really cared about others
and treated people well,
you would have this belief:
Humans are inherently good
and ready to help you.
All of the brilliant achievers
I’ve interviewed have the ability
to make themselves feel certain to succeed,
even though no one has done it before.
They have the ability
to create their own referential experiences
that have not been previously experienced
or are considered impossible.
Anyone who uses a personal computer knows the name “Microsoft”.
But what few people know is that Bill Gates,
the co-founder of this company,
is not just a lucky genius,
but a man who has created his own experiences to support his beliefs.
When he learned that the Albuquerque company was developing something
called a “personal computer” that needed BASIC software,
Bill Gates went to them
and promised to sell them the software,
even though he didn’t have the software at the time.
Promised, he had to find a way to fulfill.
His true genius was in his ability
to create his own convictions.
There are many people
who are as smart as he is,
but he knows how to use his faith
to unleash his energies
and within a few weeks,
he and a partner have written a language
to turn personal computers into computers realistic.
With determination and finding a way,
Bill Gates kicked off that day a series of events
that would completely change the way people do business
and became a billionaire at the age of 30.
Faith gives strength!
Do you know the story of running a mile in 4 minutes?
Until now, people still believe
that no one can run a mile in just 4 minutes.
Yet in 1954,
Roger Bannister broke that unshakable trust.
He was determined to achieve that “impossible”,
not only by exercising,
but also by constantly repeating in his mind that he could do this,
causing his nervous system
to form a command that compels you to achieve results.
However, many people fail
to realize that the greatest aspect of this success is
what he achieves for others.
Almost no one would have
thought it possible to hit the 4-minute mile record,
yet within a year of Roger breaking the record,
37 other runners had also broken the record.
His experience has provided them with a strong enough example
to instill in them the conviction that they too are capable of doing the “impossible”.
And a year later, another 300 athletes did the same thing!
“Which belief becomes the truth for me…
is the belief that allows me to use my full strength,
put all your energies into action” – Andre Gide
People who have experienced failures
in the past are more likely to believe
that they will not be able to succeed in the future.
So, out of fear of failure,
they begin to constantly think “realistically”.
Many people when saying,
“we have to be realistic”,
are actually scared,
afraid of failing again.
Out of fear, they have beliefs that
make them hesitant to commit
and thus achieve limited results.
Great leaders are rarely “realistic”.
They are smart and they are accurate,
but they are not practical
by ordinary people’s standards.
Gandhi believed that he could achieve independence
for India without resorting
to violence against Britain,
something that had never happened before.
He is not realistic, but he proves he is correct.
Likewise, a person believes that
he can make people happy
by building an amusement park in the middle of an orange grove
and anyone who wants to enter must buy a ticket.
At that time,
there was no such park in the world.
Yet Walt Disney had a conviction few people have,
and his optimism transformed the situation.
“Only in the human imagination,
truth finds an effective and certain existence.
Imagination, not invention,
is the absolute master of art and of life.” – Joseph Conrad
One of the biggest challenges in everyone’s life is how to define “failure”.
How we deal with life’s failures
and how we identify the causes of our failures will shape our destiny.
Sometimes we have so many painful failures that
we begin to instill the conviction that
there is nothing we can do to improve the situation.
We feel that all our efforts are in vain
and we fall into a hopeless situation.
The cause of this hopelessness is that
we think our failure is something permanent,
total, and personal.
Many famous people in the world have achieved great success
even though they have also encountered numerous problems
and great obstacles.
They differ from those who give up easily in that
they do not consider their difficulties
or failures permanent.
Eight years ago,
When I was at the bottom of my life
and completely frustrated with everything,
I was convinced that my problem was forever irreparable.
It can be considered that my emotional life is dead.
But I woke up.
I saw that my belief caused so much suffering,
so I decided to destroy that belief
and never give in to it again.
Whatever happens in your life,
you must be able to believe,
“it will pass”.
The second factor that
separates successful people from unsuccessful people is
that successful people are optimistic,
while losers are pessimistic
and believe that
their problems are comprehensive.
Successful people never take a problem as a whole,
don’t think that the problem dominates their entire life.
They always see it
as “just a little change in lifestyle”.
So no matter what problems they face,
they are confident that they can take control of their lives.
The third type of trust belongs to personality.
If we don’t see failures
as a lever to change our methods,
but as a personal problem,
a flaw of our character,
we will be discouraged.
“Your life is a journey of learning
to love yourself first and
then extending that love
to others in every encounter.”— Oprah Winfrey
Those kinds of negative beliefs can be poisons that slowly kill your life.
So you must avoid at all costs.
How to change beliefs?
Every human impasse begins with a change of belief.
So how do we change?
The most effective method is to make your mind see old beliefs
as the cause of great suffering.
You have to make sure that
belief has not only caused you pain in the past,
but also in the present and
possibly the future.
Then you have to make your mind happy
with the thought of having an intense new faith.
Remember that we do whatever we do
to avoid suffering
or gain pleasure,
so if we believe something is causing great suffering,
we can change it.
Next, create skepticism.
If you are honest with yourself,
do you think there are beliefs
that you used to defend yourself for years,
but now you have to be embarrassed to admit it?
Something makes you suspicious:
Maybe a new experience,
maybe a pattern that contradicts your old beliefs.
We have new experiences and these make us question,
sever old belief patterns and begin to shake them.
New experience by itself does not make a change.
New experience only stimulates change
if it makes us question our beliefs.
Remember, when we believe something,
we don’t question it at all.
So if we honestly question our beliefs,
we no longer feel absolutely certain about them.
If we look closely,
we may discover that what we have unconsciously believed for
many years is based on false assumptions.
If you question something enough,
you will eventually begin to doubt it.
Many years ago
I had a rare opportunity with the US military
and my great successes brought me to work. with the CIA.
I had the opportunity to learn from a senior CIA officer.
Admittedly, the skills he and many others like him have used
to shake other people’s convictions
and change theirs are truly amazing.
They create an atmosphere that
makes people doubt what they have traditionally believed in,
and then they provide people with new ideas
and experiences to strengthen them,
adoption of new beliefs.
I applied these skills to myself to eliminate useless beliefs
and replace them with powerful ones.
The way to progress in life is
to learn from the life examples of successful people.
Those are powerful,
exciting forces and these people are all around us.
Ask them questions like these:
“What beliefs have made you successful?
What beliefs have made you superior to others?”
Small improvements are believable,
should be achievable.
Pat Riley is the most successful basketball coach in NBA history.
Some say he is lucky to have superstar players.
True, he has superstar players,
but many others also have strong resources for success
that have not been like Pat.
Pat’s ability to do this is based on faith
He said that in the early 1986 football season
he faced a serious challenge.
Many of his players tried their best last year
but lost to the Boston Celtics.
To find a believable plan to stimulate the players to move forward,
he advocated on the theme of “Small improvements”.
He convinced his players that every 1 percent increase in their quality
would change the quality of the game.
It sounds so petty,
but if you think about 12 players each increasing their abilities
by 1 percent in 5 areas,
their concerted efforts will create a team with an effective team results
increased by 60 percent
yet just a 10 percent increase is enough to win.
The value of this philosophy, however,
is that everyone believes it is achievable.
People feel certain they can improve at least
1 percent of their maximum ability
in the five major areas of the game,
and the conviction that pursuit of the goal has led them
to reach even higher potentials.
What were the results?
Most players have increased by 5 percent capacity or more,
many up to 50 percent.
According to Pat Riley, the 1987 season was the easiest to win.
Trust works if you are determined to stick with it.
We’ve discovered a lot about beliefs,
but to truly take control of our lives,
we must know what beliefs we use to guide our lives.
So right now,
stop whatever you’re doing
and give your mind about 10 minutes of refreshment.
Think of all the beliefs you have,
the ones that work
as well as the ones that don’t:
Small beliefs that make no sense
and big beliefs seem
to make a big difference.
Write down all of these beliefs,
and then find ways
to strengthen effective beliefs
and eliminate useless
or negative beliefs.
Leadership and the power of faith
Leaders are people who live by strong beliefs
and teach others
to unleash their full potential
by changing the beliefs that
have stifled them.
A great leader
who has made an impression on me is a teacher,
her name is Marva Collins.
Thirty years ago,
Marva used her powers and decided
to create the future by changing the lives of children.
She faced a big challenge right away:
When she started teaching for the first time in Chicago,
her second-graders decided
they didn’t want to study at all.
But Marva’s mission is to shape their lives.
Not only did she have a belief that she could influence them,
but she also had a deep and passionate conviction
to influence them for the rest of their lives.
She is not subject
to any limits placed on her.
Faced with students
who were judged to have reading disabilities
and all sorts of other personality disorders,
she conceived that
the problem was not with the children,
but with the way they were raised.
No one has yet challenged their abilities
and so they have no confidence.
They have no experience
to properly measure their true strength.
According to her,
people respond to challenge
and these children need challenge more than anything else.
So she eliminated all books written specifically for slow learners
and instead taught them the works of Shakespeare,
Sophocles and Tolstoy.
All the other teachers shook their heads,
“She must be crazy!
How can the kids understand those books?”
And many colleagues criticized her personally,
saying that she was harming the lives of children.
But Marva’s students not only understood the works,
but also enjoyed them.
Why? Because she strongly believes in the unique qualities
of each child’s mind,
as well as each child’s ability to learn.
with them with all the logic
and love she gives them the confidence
that some of them experience this
for the first time in their lives.
The results she has produced over the decades are truly amazing.
I first met Marva and interviewed her at Westside Preparatory School,
a private school she founded outside of the school system.
the school system of the city of Chicago.
After meeting with her,
I asked to interview some of her students.
The first student I met was a four-year-old boy,
with a smile that captivated you.
I shook the boy’s hand.
“Hi, I’m Tony Robbins.”
“Hi, Mr. Robbins, my name is Talmadge E. Griffin.
I’m four years old,
what would you like to ask me?”
“Very well, Talmadge.
Can you tell me what you’re studying these days?”
“I learned a lot!”
“Okay, so what books have you read?”
“I just finished reading Cats and People,
by John Steinbeck.”
Obviously I’m impressed by this answer.
I asked him what the book said
and I thought his stomach would gossip no matter what.
It says, “Yes, the main character of the story is…”
At this point, I have no doubts.
Then I asked her what lessons she learned from the book.
I don’t just learn from books.
The book has penetrated into my soul.”
I laughed out loud and asked,
“What do you mean by ‘permeable’?”
“Is overflowing all over”
and it gives me a more complete definition than
I can describe to you.
“What touched you so much in this book, Talmadge?”
in the story I noticed that children never judge people
by the color of their skin.
Only adults do.
What I learned from this book is that
even when I become an adult,
I will also never forget the lessons of my childhood.”
I’m starting to cry
because I see that Marva Collins is providing this boy
and so many other children
with strong beliefs that
will continue to shape their decisions
not just today
but for the rest of their lives.
Marva enhances the lives of her students
using the three organizational principles
I talked about at the beginning of the book:
she empowers them
to set higher standards for themselves,
She helps children to have new
and effective beliefs helping them
to overcome old negative beliefs
and she supports all of this with special skills
and strategies needed for success throughout life.
Results? Her students have not only become more confident,
but also more capable.
The immediate results for their education are amazing
and the long-term results for their lives are profound.
Finally, I asked Tamadge,
“What is the most important thing Mrs. Collins has taught you?”
“The most important thing Mrs. Collins has taught me is that society can predict it,
but only you will determine your own destiny!”
Perhaps we all need to remember the lessons of a child.
With the beliefs that Tamadge has so beautifully expressed,
“You are not your circumstances.
You are your possibilities.
If you know that, you can do anything.”— Oprah Winfrey
I guarantee she,
like many of the other children in her class,
will have opportunities to continue
to express their lives by building the futures they desire,
than the future many fear.
We summarize what we have just learned.
We clearly see in us a force that needs to be awakened by us.
That power begins with the ability
to make conscious decisions that weave our lives.
But there is a fundamental belief that we must explore
and this belief can be found
when you answer the question in the next chapter…