The Power of Belief

When Henry Ford said, “Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right,” he had no idea that a generation later, science would back him up with evidence. In fact, belief is a powerful predictor of success and failure. In one study, a group of smokers who were attempting to quit were first given a psychological assessment. A researcher sat down with each of them and explained that based on their results, they each had a great chance of quitting because of their “strong will power and great potential to…conquer desires.” This group in fact went on to be more successful at quitting than the control group who did not go through the assessment. The tests were actually bogus, and indicated no such thing about these people, but because they expected success, it fed their belief and belief is very powerful. (Blittner, Goldberg & Merbaum, 1978) Psychologists who have researched “Expectancy Effects” tell us that events we expect to occur are in fact more likely to occur. Beliefs come in many sizes and shapes but I want to highlight one here. It’s called Self Efficacy. It simply means having a high degree of confidence to perform a certain task. When you have a strong belief in your ability to perform a task you have what is called high self-efficacy. *Researchers have found in repeated studies that self-efficacy is one of the most powerful predictors of change and success. So how does this relate to us and to our leadership? First, leaders need a healthy dose of confidence in their role as leaders. Too often,...