"Our personal beliefs define our choices, shape our lives and, collectively, determine our futures. Nothing is more important than belief."
Tom Asacker’s short work, The Business of Belief, takes us on a quick tour of what belief is, what leaders know about belief, how they use it to influence our behavior, and how we can use it for our personal improvement. Separated into three sections, filled with stories, anecdotes, quotes, and advice, Asacker presents a powerful tool to lead others and accomplish our goals.
Belief is Mind-Made
"Belief is a personal construct, and emotionally-colored fusion of imperfect mental processes like perception and memory."
Nearly half of the book is devoted to what leaders (as well as marketers, salespeople, coaches, educators, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and others) know about belief. And while scientists have difficulty identifying and quantifying such an abstract concept as belief, it is the most powerful tool to move individuals to action.
Focusing on the power of the human mind to both absorb and modify all input, Asacker identifies the ways our unconscious minds use existing beliefs to create our reality. It is primarily our emotions, which drive perception and support our pre-existing beliefs. This behavior is evident in our cognitive dissonance (when we seek confirming evidence for existing beliefs), in our desires, and in the stories we tell ourselves.
Understanding Our Desires and Beliefs
"Altering someone’s beliefs is not an act of short-lived persuasion; it’s an act of leadership."
Leadership in the marketplace comes down to understanding the beliefs of your target audience and embracing their desires. The second part of The Business of Belief delves into ways leaders move individuals to change behavior, which begins by changing their beliefs. Asacker outlines the bridge leaders can use to move their audience from belief to change:
Make Us Comfortable – provide reassurance, familiarity, and safety
Paint The Picture – build anticipation of a better experience or a better life
Make It Ours – create the feeling of personal control, connect the voyage with our desires and choices
Make It Easy – simplify the belief process by eliminating distractions and competing options
Get Us To Act – provide experience and repetition to make our actions feel familiar and safe
Make Progress Visible – create an environment of validation, accomplishment, and reward
Exude Passion – make your values and convictions known
Control Their Impulses – consider the meaning behind each word and action
Hide The How – elevate stories and experiences to make it feel personal and transformative
Behave to Believe
"Influence your attitude by controlling your actions. Change your behavior and your behavior will change your mind."
Tom Asacker spends the remaining pages of the book delving into ways we can personally use the power of belief to make changes in our lives. And it is entirely in flipping the belief-behavior paradigm that we can accomplish the goals we seek. By being conscious of our beliefs, we can step back and make concerted efforts to decide first who we are, where we are going, what we want to believe, and how we will act in the story of our lives.
I found this little tome interesting primarily for its focus on how beliefs determine much of our reality. And with my focus on sales and marketing, I identified with many of Asacker’s stories (such as Apple’s simplicity of design and Mother Teresa’s contagious passion). I appreciated this focus on passionate leadership and gentle encouragement as ways to reinforce behaviors and change beliefs.
What about you? Do you have experience changing beliefs? Others or your own? Have you built a bridge to belief for your customers? What was that like? Have you used the “behavior before belief” methodology for personal change? What happened?