Tanya Livesey on overcoming limiting beliefs

We often hold beliefs about our abilities that can impede progression. Here, Tanya Livesey explains how creative leaders can help their teams move past these self-limiting thoughts

Shutterstock/Praew Jutatip

“Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you’re right” – Henry Ford

Beliefs are powerful. They can start wars, determine governments, change culture and even miraculously cure disease. And they shape us as individuals, every single day. From a very young age our experiences start to inform our belief system – some are based on life experience, some on emotion, others on what we’re taught.

As we grow, the beliefs we accumulate like magpies throughout childhood simply become a part of us, and we accept them as fact – unchallenged and hidden – until something crosses them. Whether we’re conscious of them or not, our beliefs shape who we are – and they ­certainly shape how we behave and ­perform in the workplace.

Unfortunately, while many of our beliefs serve us well and help us navigate the world on our terms, some of the beliefs we harbour about ourselves are flawed or even bare-faced lies. For example, you may have caught yourself thinking along these lines: “I’ll never be able to do that. I always fail. I’m rubbish at X. I’m too old/too young/not smart enough. I don’t have the talent. I won’t be credible.”

Sound familiar? Writer Marilynne Robinson calls these our “mean little myths” – the stories we tell ourselves that keep us in our boxes and get in the way of us doing what we want.