Create new beliefs in your business

Statue of Christopher Columbus in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spainumbus in

Do you celebrate Columbus Day?

October 10 is Columbus Day. This holiday commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1942. The first Columbus Day celebration took place in New York in 1792, to commemorate the 300th anniversary of this event. Since then, Italian and Catholic communities have organized annual events to honor Christopher Columbus. The reason was well-explained by President Benjamin Harris in 1892: “On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.” (Source)

But there’s another side of the story – especially from the viewpoint of our native peoples. In an article posted in the Harvard Gazette called A Day of Reckoning, author Liz Mineo describes the reason. “For Native people in the U.S., Columbus Day represents a celebration of genocide and dispossession. The irony is that Columbus didn’t discover anything. Not only was he lost, thinking he had landed in India, but there is significant evidence of trans-oceanic contact prior to 1492. The day celebrates a fictionalized and sanitized version of colonialism, whitewashing generations of brutality that many Europeans brought to these shores.” (Source)

If you’re like me, you grew up believing the first version — that Christopher Columbus was a hero. Your opinion will likely change after you read 9 Reasons Why Christopher Columbus was a Murderer, Tyrant and Scoundrel. This new information certainly changed my beliefs about Columbus and whether his conquests are worth celebrating.

Beliefs that don’t benefit your business

So what does this have to do with running your business? A lot!

Likely you are making assumptions that may be downright detrimental to your business. Questioning your beliefs – even if they’re longstanding and you know they are true – can be a game changer for your business.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Old Belief: I am a horrible writer because my English teacher told me so.
  • New Belief: I write emails, newsletters and proposals for my business all the time. I do a good job connecting with my prospects and customers. Even though I didn’t enjoy writing essays about Shakespeare in high school, writing for my business is much more conversational. I do a good job writing for my business.
  • Old Belief: I have ADHD and am a failure at managing my time.
  • New Belief: Everybody has issues they need to work on. Mine is time management. How can I find resources and strategies that will help me stay focused?
  • Old Belief: I’m terrible with numbers and my dismal SAT score proves it.
  • New Belief: Running my business does not require advanced Calculus. I need to know how to add and subtract, which is something I learned in first grade. Is it time to ask my accountant to help me set up and understand my financial reports?

How to Change Your Beliefs

In his book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, author James Clear outlines a two-step process for changing your beliefs.

The first step of Clear’s method involves changing your identity to become the kind of person who can meet your goals. Using the above examples, this means changing your identity to someone who is a:

  • Competent writer, who enjoys writing newsletters, blogs and emails for your business.
  • Productive worker, who manages your time well.
  • Capable business owner, who is proficient at using numbers to manage your business.

The second step of Clear’s method is to prove this identity to yourself using small wins. In other words, take actions that help you move toward your new identity. Examples include:

  • Writing a how-to article that will help your customers solve a problem.
  • Tracking the first hour of your day on an app designed for people with ADHD.
  • Reviewing this month’s accounting reports with your CPA.

As you can see, each of these steps moves you toward your new identity as a competent writer, productive worker, or capable business owner.

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