Leaps of Faith

I recently ran into a former colleague and we got together yesterday to write at a tiny coffee house in Salt Lake, both working on separate books. She mentioned something about my personality that I had failed to recognize: I had stood out to her as a leader because I had unwavering faith in our outcomes. I never questioned whether our goals were possible.

Since then, I have begun to ruminate on the importance of faith and how few people I know who have that sense of surety. Those that do have accomplished incredible goals without much of a thought to how impressive such accomplishments are.

It seems that most rarely dream of certain possibilities, such as moving to Hawaii, retiring early, writing a book, becoming a doctor, etc…but the ‘faith-full’ almost automatically accept that its not only possible, but definite if they choose to pursue it.

It’s also clear that within a person faith is not universally applied. I have complete faith in my work performance and the possibilities of others I work with. When taking on a massive project, the unknown for me is exactly how I will accomplish it, not whether I will succeed. However, I have great anxiety about choosing the right project to pursue, parenting, marketing, website development, making coffee, putting together professional outfits, and a host of other areas.

Faith is an enormous competitive edge. A significant barrier or challenge that must be overcome can render some people paralyzed in fear or uncertainty while simply changing the course or tactics of others. I would rather adapt than resist change, although as a organizational change consultant, this is not the norm. However, I’m sure too much faith, otherwise known as ego-driven narcissism, would lead to unnecessary risk and disastrous consequences.

I find myself frustrated at the lack of faith some friends and colleagues have in their own obvious abilities. I have a friend who has incredible work ethic and people skills (I have found these to be rarely contained within the same person). She is highly valued at her workplace where she works on the frontlines, but that’s as far as she reaches, despite sharing that she needs a higher income in order to remain in her home, which she loves.

I also coached a client who had an incredible story about weight, guilt, and perspective and an immense desire to share it with other women who hid in the corner because of their pant size. She was also an experienced trainer and speaker and the crossroads were upon her to take the reigns and make her dream happen, having recently been laid off from her day job. She didn’t take one step in the direction of her dream, instead taking another passion-less day job.

Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure.”

– Albert Bandura

Thought leaders have suggested a variety of key indicators for success. Perhaps self-efficacy lies at the foundation of them all.

As we can see with my friend, hard work does not translate into promotions, financial independence, or a successful business on its own.

From my client, it’s clear that a passionate dream does not create the courage necessary to act on it.

I’ve known several curious folks who wasted their time in school rather than applying their insatious appetite for learning.

Certainly emotional intelligence carries little impact without the ambition to lead others.

The right connections will never translate into success without some strategic investments and the aspiration to grow.

Ultimately, those who set and accomplish tremendous goals must believe in their ability to do so, take action without excessive delay, and refuse to quit when the inevitable barriers rise to greet their tenacity.

Our beliefs, for the most part, translate into our reality. In accepting the importance of faith, this begs the question:

How can we nurture greater faith in ourselves or in others effectively and efficiently or will the returns be undermined by their inherent self-doubt? Is this a firm personality characteristic mixed in there with risk tolerance, self-belief, and a little egotism?

As a therapist and a coach, my knee-jerk reaction would be to suggest that we can change anything about ourselves, including self-assurance and faith in our outcomes should we take a leap.

However, I would have to honestly acknowledge that of the clients I have worked with who have made impressive changes in their lives, they generally self-referred themselves to therapy/coaching and were action-oriented from the beginning. So the road to unwavering faith is certainly not an easy one.

Those of us with faith can be a beacon for others while simultaneously reinforcing our own self-belief:

  • Purposefully surround yourself with accomplished, self-made people, especially the natural nurturers who encourage your ideas and efforts. If you hear “you can do it” enough times, you will begin to believe it.
  • Encourage others: point out their strengths at every opportunity and make the connection between their inherent talents and the many possibilities open to them.
  • Take a shot, without second thoughts, at a dream you had filed away under impossible just to flex the muscles of your faith. Don’t quit when you run into a wall, instead find a creative way to the other side.
  • Openly share your ‘failures’. Ironically failure is an inevitable experience for the faithful because we try things and it generally comes with more rewards than pain. Normalizing that fact is reassuring to those too afraid to make an attempt.
  • Don’t shy away from sharing your successes either. You’re likely leading a very inspirational life in many ways and sharing (not boasting) your accomplishments and how you got there makes it possible for others to follow in your footsteps.

What has inspired you to take action and do something hard? What activities helped you persist and maintain your faith?

  1. Loved this post- I can see you struggling with this whole concept; I wish there was an answer to this complex question- educators everywhere and at every level struggle with this question of how to guide others and improve self-efficacy. From my perspective, you can develop it through real success.

  2. To me, this is related to lifelong “What do I want to be when I grow up?” disease. 🙂 And my faith and confidence in my abilities depends on the week and the day, and sometimes it depends on if it’s the real job or the “job” that allows me to be creative and have fun at home. Nice post. Thank you.

  3. What a great coach you must be. You’re always so thoughtful & have great insights into possible root causes. I really enjoyed this line:

    “A passionate dream does not create the courage necessary to act on it.”

    It’s true. Still, a lot of what we read is focused on finding the right thing to do: the right career, finding the right mate, finding the passionate hobby, etc. etc. The message is that if you find the right thing, then things will be easy: it won’t really feel like work, and success will just flow. I’m not sure it works like that. These big dreams you’re talking about take courage, as you noted, if only to take the leap (or, barring that, a first step).

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