“Gotta Have Faith . . .”


"Gotta have faith . . ." sang the much missed George Michael, back in 1987, which was a cracking year for pop music by the way.

If you're starting anything new this term, a new job, a new role or a new project, you may now and again experience doubts that you're up to the task.

Doubts that you don't yet have the skill set, the knowledge or the experience to pull it off.

No Doubt

This is perfectly natural and very common, even though you might be worried that it's just you thinking like this. Wherever you are on your personal career path those sort of doubts can rise to the surface. Perhaps:

  • you've just joined a well established office team and you're concerned about how you'll settle in
  • you're starting out on your NQT year
  • it is your first few days as Headteacher and you've got no-one with whom you can share your concerns

These doubts are normal but they can slow you down and prevent you from getting to the confident stage quickly.

Take some advice from dear old George and get yourself some faith.

I'm not talking about any particular religious faith, although I'm sure that can be useful. I'm referring to having belief in your own ability to achieve your goal. And also to feel comfortable while getting there.

I'll share a story with you to show you how it can be done with just one simple perspective change.

True Lies

A few years ago I was working with a client who runs a well known suntan lotion company. In a coaching session she confessed that she was worried about telling lies to her customers. This didn't sound like her at all so I probed a little further.

It turned out that in business meetings with prospective clients she would agree to almost everything the client wanted to happen. They would blithely ask for all sorts of things and she would nod and acquiesce, happily agreeing to all sorts of demands, totally ignoring the muted objections from her team around the table.

Her staff were objecting because they had no idea how they were going to fulfill these obligations. Neither did my client.

'I feel really bad because I just can't tell them the truth - that we can't do what they're asking. So I just say 'Yes' and then once they're out the door I feel terrible that I've lied to them.'

You Can't Handle The Truth

It was a fascinating coaching session. As more information emerged it turned out that although she had no idea how she would fulfill her promises, she always eventually did. She always found a way to deliver what she'd said she would deliver.

I pointed out that she could take the perspective that this wasn't actually lying at all. Her promises without exception came true. That's not lies.

'But I still feel so bad about not telling them the truth,' she said.

I persuaded her that although it wasn't the truth when she made the promises, because they became true we had to give what she was doing another name. Calling it 'lying' made her feel upset and clearly wasn't true.

We decided upon 'Future Truth Telling' as a label. It was fairly clunky but it did the job. Future Truth Telling accurately described what she was doing and made her feel okay about it.

She still had the pressure to deliver and her team still rolled their eyes as their boss promised the world, but crucially my client felt much more comfortable and not upset.

That one change in perspective relaxed her, allowed her to work without guilt and, so she claims, improved her performance. All good.

Run, Roger, Run!

About a year later I came across the phrase Precursive Faith. It was a radio programme about breaking the four minute mile and how Roger Bannister had needed to believe that he was able to do something, even though he'd never done it before. In fact no one had ever done it before.

Often we draw on past achievements in order to raise our levels of confidence and belief that we can do something in the future. If your team has won a match then they can use that memory and experience to win again. With this goal however there was no past experience for Bannister to draw upon.

The presenter talked about Bannister drawing not on past experience but on Precursive Faith, literally faith in something before it has been written.

Hey, I thought, that's Future Truth Telling but with a much better label. I'm having that!

How Can You Use This?

I ran a new course at the start of this week called Train The Trainer. The course was brand new - I'd finished writing it just a few days earlier and the paint was still wet when I set out to deliver it.

Usually with training days I know from past experience what to expect, but when it is a new course all bets are off and I've got to have a certain amount of faith. Precursive Faith - there's nothing else to go on.

Precursive Faith is something you can use to help you get through those first few moments of doubt as you settle into your new role.

Even though you might not have any evidence, by purposefully choosing to trust in your own abilities, and believing that you will quickly be comfortable, you can get to that place of confidence, more quickly and less painfully than just waiting for it to happen.

And once you've proved to yourself that you can do something you've never done before, it then quickly becomes fully evidenced and provable. A self fulfilling prophecy, a New Order if you will, showing that the need for Faith has quickly become True Faith. Told you 1987 was a great year for pop!

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