Believe I’m wrong? Sometimes I do too, and I think that’s a problem. The problem is that we have trouble believing. Believing in our businesses, in our relationships, in our dreams, in our religions, in ourselves…But why do we have trouble believing? And if we believed…and I mean really believed, what would change? I propose, EVERYTHING WOULD CHANGE, if we believed it would.
Take a moment and think of someone that you look up to. They have probably done something that you want to do, or at least that you repect dearly, right? Now ask yourself what drives this person to do what they do? If it was just their “job” to do it, I doubt you’d be that interested in them. There’s more. They probably have done something incredible, and in doing so had to believe deeply in the need to do it, and in their ability to do it. Any change-maker that you can think of has conquered believing deeply. You have to believe deeply to change anything big. Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King. These are real believers. Nothing could stop them because they BELIEVED nothing could stop them, not because no one tried.
As a startup founder, belief is something I experience every day. If I believe I will succeed then I probably will quit my job to do it. And I have. But the level of my belief will be the true test of how successful I will be. The founders of Pandora are good examples of people who believed. Anyone reading this has probably used Pandora dozens of times, but what you might not know is that it took them five years before anyone noticed them. And in those five years, everyone else except the founders pretty much stopped believing in them. Their friends, their family, their investors. Their pockets were full of debt. They had their graduate degrees and their beliefs, but everything else had been stripped away from them. But they believed, and believed long and hard enough, that their company (and beliefs) came true. Conquincidence? I doubt it. They believed strongly enough they would have waited ten years instead of just five, and it would have happened anyways. It was just a matter of time.
One of the reasons I think we struggle with believing deeply is because it sounds idealistic. Observe someone who deeply believes tell someone who does not about their belief. It often sounds a bit naive and childish. Do you think now is the right time? Are you sure you want to do that? Those are some of the questions that would run through our mind. Idealism has gotten a bad wrap because it describes something that’s not calculated, scientific or procedural. And that’s what our society has been trained to look for before it deeply believes. But without idealism, you wouldn’t be reading this on your computer, you would be reading it on a handwritten note by me. It takes idealism to create things. And belief is the foundation of idealism. You cannot be idealistic without believing — deeply believing — in it. So don’t worry about being idealistic, or sounding foolish. That’s just part of the process.
This is also the reason why we love to go to places that help us believe. Some of us find these places in coffee shops with our friends. Over dinner with our family. At church, in a gym, on top of a mountain, or online at places like TED.com. When we’re around people who are deeply believing, we feel less idealistic about our own beliefs and dreams. We watch other people who believe, and we start to feel more comfortable believing too. We often even start to believe whatever they believe a little more. If we had no trouble believing deeply, we probably wouldn’t gravitate to these places as much as we do.
The hardest part about believing deeply is that we only have so much room for it. I cannot deeply believe 100 different things at the same time and be successful. We have to be choosy about what we want to deeply believe. It’s as if we have a jar of pennies, and we get to invest it. If I invest the entire jar in one thing, then I must really believe that one thing, and I will do everything in my power to make that one thing come true. And it will. But if I decide to invest in 100 things, it actually means that I don’t really believe very much in any of them, or else I would have been a bit more choosy.
So if you invest your pennies carefully, and are choosy with the things that you want to believe deeply in, I honestly believe that you can do anything you want. You can have anything you want. You can be anyone you want to be. I believe this. And I hope you believe me too. But if you don’t, I understand, because afterall, I believe that the hardest thing to do is to believe.Tweet