“Man is what he believes” –Anton Chekhov
In the book “Anatomy of Illness” Norman Cousins tells an instructive story about Pablo Casals, one of the great musicians of the twentieth century. It’s a story of belief and renewal, and we can all learn from it.
Cousins describes meeting Casals shortly before the great cellist’s ninetieth birthday. Cousins says that it was almost painful to watch the old man as he began his day. His frailty and arthritis were so debilitating that he needed help in dressing. His emphysema was evident in his labored breathing. He walked with a shuffle, stooped over, his head pitched forward. His hands were swollen, his fingers clenched. He looked like a very old, tired man.
Even before eating, he made his way to the piano, one of several instruments on which Casals had become proficient. With great difficulty, he arranged himself on the piano bench. It seemed a terrible effort for him to bring his clenched, swollen fingers to the keyboard.
And then something miraculous happened. Casals suddenly and completely transformed himself before Cousins’s eyes. He went into a resourceful state, and as he did his physiology changed to such a degree that he began to move and play, producing both on his body and on the piano results that should have been only possible for a healthy, strong, flexible pianist.
“The finger slowly unlocked and reached toward the keys like the buds of a plant toward the sunlight. His back straightened. He seemed to breathe more freely.” Cousins said. The thought of playing the piano completely transformed his state and thus the effectiveness of his body. His entire body seemed to fuse with the music. By the time he walked away from the piano, he seemed entirely different from the person who had sat down to play. He stood straighter and taller, he walked without a trace of shuffle. He immediately walked to the breakfast table, ate heartily and went out for a stroll along the beach.
“One person with a strong belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.” That’s precisely why beliefs open the door to excellence. Belief delivers a direct command to your nervous system. When you belief something is true, you literally go into the state of its being true. On the other hand, beliefs that limit your actions and thoughts ca be as devastating as resourceful beliefs can be empowering.
THERE IS NO MORE POWERFUL DIRECTING FORCE IN HUMAN BEHAVIOR THAN BELIEF.
Norman Cousins, who learned firsthand the power belief in eliminating his own illness, concludes, “Drugs are not always necessary. Belief in recovery always is.”
Belief is nothing but a state, an internal representation that governs behaviour. It can be an empowering belief in possibility, a belief that you will succeed in something or achieve something else. It can be a disempowering belief, a belief that you can’t succeed, that your limitations are clear, intractable, and overwhelming. If you believe in success, you’ll be empowered to achieve it. If you believe in failure, those messages will tend to lead you to experience that as well.
The question is what kinds of beliefs are best to have, and how to develop them? The birth of excellence begins with our awareness that our beliefs are a choice. We usually don’t think of it that way, but belief can be a conscious choice. We usually don’t think of it that way, but belief can be a conscious choice. You can choose beliefs that limits you, or you can choose beliefs that support you. The trick is to choose the beliefs that are conducive to success and the results you want and to discard the ones that hold you back. It is your belief that determines how much of your potential you’ll be able to tap.
“THEY CAN BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY CAN” –Virgil
So again, what are beliefs? They are preformed, preorganized approaches to perception that filters our communication in a consistent manner. If you are going to try to model the beliefs that foster excellence, the first thing you need to do is to know where those beliefs come from;
- Environment around you
- Events, small or large can help foster beliefs.
- Past results
- Creating in your mind the experience you desire in the future as if it were here now
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the
prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” – Albert Einstein
“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”
–J. Willard Marriot