Belief is an interesting concept. Although it’s defined as both “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists,” as well as “trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something,” it’s really a qualitative feeling that’s hard to identify.
Pulling out some key terms in the definitions above, belief comes down to: acceptance, trust, and confidence. When you say that you “believe” in something, you’re saying that you accept “it" exists, trust you can continue to identify “it" moving forward, and have confidence in “its" ability.
Coming from the frame that you have to fully believe in yourself to be successful, there is an evolution of self-belief that everyone goes through before they can become successful.
Referred to as paradigms, the evolution of belief is broken down into six mental shifts that have to be undertaken before success can be achieved. Remember: your success can never be greater than your self worth.
In this regard, it’s immensely important that you move through these six paradigm shifts so that your self worth will always exceed your level of success. This way, it will be your self worth that pulls you forward, rather than having it hold you back.
Regardless of your goal, you will always be faced with the following six paradigms, or phases of thought, in this order:
Like our hierarchy of needs, it’s impossible to move through one phase without first moving through the one that precedes it. So, to achieve the success you want, you have to systematically move through each paradigm:
We’ve all been here, the impossibility phase, and it’s always a painful start. For me, when I first was introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship, it seemed like some distant lifestyle, with no chance of me becoming one. It was almost as if entrepreneurs were business royalty, and you had to be born into a situation where building a business was possible.
How could I even become an entrepreneur??? There’s no way I’m on par with the likes of Larry Ellison and Richard Branson.
It can’t be done, I told myself. That was my mental outlook - that was my current paradigm.
Ok, get over yourself - and myself - a little. When you’re motivated to achieve a goal, the paradigm of “it can’t be done” is quickly overcome. Through your belief that it can’t be done (your “it” being your goal), you realize that “hey, other people are doing it."
Moving from the first paradigm to the infatuation phase, you still hold the belief that you might not be able to do it, but you do realize that others have been successful in doing it.
How cool all the entrepreneurs I read about are, I thought to myself. What tenacity and drive they must have to achieve that level of success.
With this type of thinking, you move into the second paradigm that although you can’t do it, other people can. And how amazing they are for their achievements!
This movement into the second paradigm is immensely important because you begin to believe that your goal is at least attainable by humans, if not by you yourself.
With your belief that the achievement of your goal is possible by at least someone, you begin to move into the third paradigm of: hey, that would be pretty cool if I did it too.
I refer to this paradigm as the dream phase, because you begin to dream that attaining your goal is a possibility, but you still don’t quite believe that it will manifest itself in the real world.
But you allow yourself to dream! Previously, dreaming about something like this would be the equivalent of dreaming about owning dragons: fun to entertain, but clearly something that will never come to pass.
For me, I moved into this paradigm by allowing myself to dream about the lifestyle I would live if I was an entrepreneur. By dreaming, you start to realize that it isn’t quite as hard as you initially thought.
I don’t have to build the next Salesforce, I remember thinking. A lifestyle business that would afford me the time to travel is all I really need.
In this sense, it’s during the third paradigm, or dream phase, that you refine your goal and make it one that you believe you can attain.
As you move through the dream phase and refine your goal, you start to realize: hey, maybe this is something I should actually try to accomplish...
You see other people doing it, and start to wonder: why not me?
You begin to turn your dream into a vision. It’s no surprise, then, that this paradigm is referred to as the vision phase.
A dream is a goal without an end-date or a belief that it’s possible. A vision is a dream with a plan. As you move through this paradigm, you begin to formulate a plan around how you’re actually going to achieve your newly refined goal.
My vision started with my blog. I knew I wanted to build a successful business, and wanted to prove to myself I could remain committed through the highs and the lows. So, I bought the domain evantarver.com and decided I would write about business and entrepreneurship.
The purpose of the blog was two fold: to get myself into a rhythm of work, and to spark an idea that I could build a business around. My plan started with a blog, with the desired end result of a successful business.
As we move through this phase, it’s clear that our self-belief is finally becoming tangible.
Known as the resolve phase, as you move from the fourth paradigm into the fifth, you begin to put your plan into action. You realize, through no easy task (remember the 4 previous paradigms??), that the impossibility of your goal, which turned into an infatuation with your goal, that became a dream, that became a vision, that became a plan, is realistically possible!
Once you’ve come this far in your success journey, your self-belief is palpable. You’ve broken through layers of uncertainty and stand here, ready to put in the work and achieve your goal. Nothing, not even self-doubt, will knock you off your path.
You’re going to do it! You believe it.
This paradigm is interesting because it’s hard to point to tangible evidence that you’ll achieve your goal, but you have this innate feeling that it’s a foregone conclusion.
After I started my blog, I met the cofounder of a startup through my writing. We respected each others goals, vision, and drive, and decided to go into business together.
I expanded my plan to encompass our new project. Once we started, I knew in my heart of hearts that we would be successful. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, I just knew.
I knew that all my knowledge and learning up to this point, coupled with my resolve to achieve my goal of entrepreneurship, and with the addition of my business partner’s background and skills, would culminate in some amazing success.
Resolve, people, resolve. Don’t discount its power.
The phase of self-belief is the last paradigm shift, and, once entered, is one you will stay in for the rest of your life.
Although the name tips you off, as you break through each paradigm you gain more and more self confidence, self awareness, and self-belief, and when you reach the final paradigm, you are so confident in your abilities that you know as long as you work hard, anything is possible.
This is the achievement of your goal; this is the attainment of success.
If you’ve built one successful business, in my example, you know that you could build ten more. It will take a lot of hard work, yes, and you might even need to take a step back into the dream paradigm, but with your newfound confidence, you know everything is a foregone conclusion.
As you move forward through life, it’s important to always come from this frame of reference. This way, your self confidence will maintain your self-belief, which will push you toward any goal you want.
So, where are you in your journey? Where does your current mental state reside? What have you found helpful in breaking through these success paradigms?
Lets work together, so that when we enter the phase of self-belief, we stay there!