The eighth law is about the power of our beliefs. This law is: “What you believe is possible, is. What you believe is impossible, is.”
This law explains why your friends simply dismiss the solution you offer to their problems, and why you seem to stay perpetually stuck in whatever situation you feel stuck in, despite your best attempts to shift things.
To see this law at play, we’ll use the example of Jorge. Jorge was raised with the belief that you need to work hard to make money. There are a whole bunch of adjacent beliefs that accompany this main belief, like “People that have money but aren’t working hard are cheats and/or lucky”, and “You don’t have to work hard, but then you’ll need to figure out how to get by without much money,” and so on.
These are kind of like “sub-beliefs” from the main belief Jorge was raised with around money. Jorge’s parents provided him this belief, because that was how they were raised, and they wanted to instill in Jorge a good, honest work ethic.
So we have the belief. Next, Jorge goes into the world, and he’s going to act according to this belief. Since Jorge would like money and the things it affords him, he goes and looks for jobs that pay well for working hard. He’s not going to go and look for jobs that pay a lot of money for very little work, because his belief doesn’t really leave much room for that. Sure, those jobs may be getting advertised, but Jorge is going to dismiss those as too good to be true, likely scams, or whatever else is consistent with his dominant belief.
Even if those jobs are actually out there, Jorge is going to filter them out through the lens of his belief. Over time, through his actions, informed by his beliefs, Jorge gets jobs that require hard work, but pay him well. This leads to the environment that Jorge now finds himself in.
While people could insist that it is simply Jorge’s “story” that you have to work hard to make money, that’s only half the truth for Jorge. If you told him this, he would look around and point to all of the evidence that he is now surrounded by. His actions have led to him working at companies that operate based on the same belief: work hard, and we will pay you well. Don’t work hard and we’ll fire you.
If you tell Jorge it’s just a belief, he’s going to point to all of the people that he is surrounded with that are operating inside the reality of that very same belief. It doesn’t occur like a belief to Jorge — it occurs as abject reality.
From here, you can see how Jorge’s beliefs bend his reality into accordance with them. If you were to tell Jorge “Hey, you could make way more money by working way less hard,” the first barrier is going to be that Jorge insists you’re simply wrong. He’s going to look around his world, see all the evidence to suggest otherwise, and dismiss what you’ve said.
Second, Jorge may attempt to make that reality come true, but he’s inevitably going to sabotage those results. He may summon up the courage to leave his well-paid, hard-working job and take the leap into a job that doesn’t require as much hard work, but while he’s working there, he’s continually looking for evidence that proves true his underlying belief. What’s the catch? Where are people cutting corners? Where is this too good to be true?
Jorge is likely to start to find evidence to support what he’s looking for, but let’s be generous and assume he doesn’t. Now he’s working a job that is rewarding him well, even though he’s not working that hard — in direct contrast with his dominant belief.
Over time, he starts to feel guilty due to the dissonance between his belief and his job. He’s not working that hard, but he’s getting paid really well. He doesn’t want to be a cheat, and he wants to show his appreciation, so he starts to work a little harder.
Over time, he works harder and accepts more work because of how grateful he is about the job he has. Jorge gradually trains the people around him to hand their own work over to him.
As time wears on, everyone around Jorge seems to be getting away with an easy workload, while Jorge feels like he’s starting to get buried under his work. In spite of himself, Jorge’s belief has reasserted itself as reality. Jorge is working hard for good money. At the same time, the people around Jorge that aren’t doing the same are met with growing resentment from Jorge.
Given enough time, Jorge will eventually get fed up with these people that seem happy freeloading (they’re not actually freeloading — they’re just not meeting the standards set by Jorge’s belief). Jorge will either leave the job he’s working in to go and find somewhere that he feels appreciated (and in doing so, choose back into an environment where everyone is working hard) or continually apply judgment to those that aren’t working hard until they eventually leave.
We’ve covered one angle here, but there’s a reciprocal to this belief that we should address before we finish up.
Let’s assume Jorge is raised with this belief by his parents, but he rails against it. He says “To hell with working hard! I don’t want to do that!”
Jorge will go out into the world, and construct a life that is totally in resistance to this belief. He finds ways to live free of needing to work hard. He learns how to take it easy, and to get to do what he wants without having to work. He figures out ways to travel the world on a shoestring budget, learns to collect coupons and find deals, and creates a life that lets him do what he wants. But it is all within the confines of that same belief.
It’s not that Jorge believes it’s impossible to live a good life without working hard. Jorge’s belief says you cannot have a light workload and get paid well. Absent a transformational breakthrough, Jorge will be left choosing between the two poles that his belief allows for.
What you believe is possible, is.
What you believe is impossible, is.
Learn more about each of the The Energetic Laws of Leadership here.