A few years ago, I was walking down 5th avenue in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. This is the most touristic street and therefore the busiest in the entire city.
Walking through it you find vendors, restaurants, commercial businesses of all kinds, entertainment, and many more stimulation. One after the other, at every step.
The pastel blue and green colors of an ice cream shop on the left contrast with the floor-to-ceiling navy blue of a luxury clothing store on the right.
A few meters further on you hear vendors encouraging you to buy a souvenir from the city, to get a temporary Henna tattoo on your arm in 5 minutes, or you find tour guides trying to sell you the cheapest tour to visit the nearby cenotes.
In short, it is an explosion of stimulation for the senses of each of the passers-by.
I remember that in the midst of that constellation of distractions, a T-shirt that was hanging as a display in one of the street shops suddenly caught my attention.
Specifically, I was caught by the phrase printed on it that clearly said:
Do not believe everything you think.
I vividly remember that moment as it’s an advice I have never received before and which changed my perception of my own mind.
Today, I want to share with you a part of what this change in perception brought. My goal is that this experience will serve to enhance your own life, and specifically your professional development.
Deep in our minds live our beliefs.
I am not referring to religious, political or sports beliefs. I also don’t mean to believe in Santa Claus, or believe in haunted houses.
I mean the thoughts we don’t question. Those about which we have total certainty. It’s on top of these that all the other thoughts we have are generated.
These systems affect our relationship with every aspect of our lives. Belief systems in relationships, belief systems in our family interaction, beliefs about money, food, etc.
In this article we will talk about beliefs related to professional development. We’ll identify some beliefs that are likely to be holding you back in this area and suggest you experiment with others for different results in your career.
On the other hand, if you are someone who leads work teams, I invite you to also question the beliefs that I mention here using both angles: your position as a leader, as well as the position of those you lead.
Belief #1: It’s only possible to work inside an office
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it’s possible to work from home.
Some people even worked MORE from home than they did in the office. In many cases, the fear of being fired made them work harder.
It’s likely that you have also found yourself in the forced position of working remotely.
I’m not saying it was easy. Perhaps you had factors at home that distracted you, such as: children, household chores, your own distractions, etc.
Until before 2020, MANY companies thought: It’s not possible to work from home.
The confinement broke this belief, both in the lower and upper management of the companies. And once we see “the truth”, then it is not possible to unsee it.
For this, let’s suggest taking it to the next level.
I suggest experimenting with this New Belief: It’s possible to work from anywhere. Not just from home, but from ANYWHERE.
Note: it’s funny to realize that I write about this new belief while sitting on a bus full of passengers.
Belief #2: I should work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
How frustrating it’s to try to work when your mind can’t focus, right?
This is what happens with many people who are super productive in the afternoon or at night. However, their business hours state that work is done from 9am to 5pm (or similar hours). Period.
This belief usually comes from leadership and is as silly as trying to make all employees wear the same uniform of which there is only one size.
Trying to adjust your own metabolism to a schedule that just doesn’t fit this one is rowing against the tide.
Of course, if you have meetings with other members of your team, the ideal is to coordinate a common schedule. However, for the rest of the time, how about fitting the work you need to get done into the hours when you are most alert? (If you want to know your best time for certain activities, I suggest taking a look at The Power of When, by Dr. M. Breus.)
Experiment with this new belief: It’s possible to work in a Team that respects my best productivity schedules.
Belief #3: I can’t rest during working hours/I have to work 8 hours a day
Based on the previous belief, this is also referred to how we manage our time.
There is a belief that spending 8 hours a day at work guarantees productivity.
In my experience, the only thing it guarantees is stress, irritability, and the delusion of productivity.
Taking breaks, breaks, is not only ideal. In fact, perhaps the optimal thing would be to plan our day based on the breaks we will have.
These breaks can range from a nap (check out more about naps and sleep here), to going for a walk to clear your mind and get your body moving again.
Experiment with this new belief: As long as I meet the goals set by my work team, I have the freedom to give my body and mind the necessary breaks during the day.
Note: in the teams that I led over the years, one of the Team rules was always to encourage us to take powernaps (naps) when the body asked for it.
Belief #4: I get paid for the hours I work
If you work in a factory or a restaurant, or are an hourly freelancer, this belief is right for you.
However, if you are someone who produces results based on your knowledge and creativity, and you have a fixed monthly salary, then this is an incorrect belief.
More hours in front of the computer does NOT mean that you are producing more. In fact, there are studies that show the opposite [TK: Data].
Experiment with this new belief: I get paid to generate results.
Belief #5: The way I behave in and out of the office are different
Trying to generate one type of behavior inside and another outside the office is like trying to generate a second personality.
Behaving one way from Monday to Friday and behaving another on weekends is a sure recipe for creating internal physiological and mental conflict.
If you are someone who is easily blown up at home, I don’t mean blown up against your colleagues as well. In fact, why not use the same temperance used at work at home?
The biggest danger I see with this belief is that we eventually live two different lives. And probably only one of these brings us satisfaction.
Experiment with this new belief: I behave authentically on and off the job.
To finalize. If you have been following me for a while, you know that I like practice and experiments. For this, I suggest you perform this experiment.
- Choose any of the new beliefs I suggested that resonated with you.
- For 10 days, live with the certainty of the new belief that you have adopted.
- During that time, take notes on how you behave? What attitudes do you have? How do you feel?
- Write me privately so we can talk about your discoveries 🙂
These were some of the beliefs that commonly hold back the development of most professionals. Surely there are many more and if you have already identified them in yourself or in your colleagues, leave me a comment and let’s continue the conversation 🙂
Keep learning! Keep optimizing!