Know Your Assets for Significance – Part Four: Your Most Important Beliefs

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 14, Issue No. 6a
October 1, 2015

By Dan Coughlin



Your beliefs determine your behaviors. Your most important beliefs are those that drive your most effective behaviors, the ones that really help you and your organization to be more successful today and over the long term.

Make a List of All Your Beliefs

I want you to begin to make a list of your beliefs. Don’t focus on whether or not they are driving effective or ineffective behaviors. Just write them down.

One way to identify your beliefs is to see examples of what other people believe. Here is a list of beliefs I’ve heard people share with me over the years as to what drove their behaviors.

  • “Do whatever you have to do to please your boss.”
  • “The customer is always right. Do what the customer wants.”
  • “Pay attention to your behaviors because they are what drive results.”
  • “Do the right thing no matter the cost.”
  • “Honesty is always the best policy.”
  • “Take responsibility for your piece of any project.”
  • “Treat your employees the right way and they will treat your customers the right way and the business will grow.”
  • “Focus on top-line growth and the bottom-line will take care of itself.”
  • “You can’t add value to people unless you understand them, and you can’t understand them without real empathy.”
  • “Do what you have to do to get ahead in your career.”
  • “Deal with other people the way you want them to deal with you.”
  • “Good things come to those who keep on working.”
  • “At the end of the day it’s all about the money.”
  • “We have to do whatever is necessary to improve the organization.”
  • “Always replace your worst employees with better employees.”

I’m not saying that any of these beliefs have to be your beliefs. I am saying it’s important for you to identify the beliefs you turn to on a regular basis to make decisions as well as the ones that drive your behaviors even when you don’t consciously turn to them. Write those beliefs down.

This may take you several days to jot down your beliefs as they pop into your mind. You may not have all of them on the tip of your tongue.

Let Your Actions Help You Reveal Your Beliefs

Whenever you take an action, step back and ask yourself what the belief was that drove this behavior. If you do that for a few weeks, you will start to see your difficult-to-see beliefs in a clearer light.

Identify Your Most Important Beliefs

Once you see them on paper I want you to circle your three most important beliefs. These are the beliefs that drive your most effective behaviors. These beliefs are part of what you bring to the table in your efforts to make a significant difference.

You might also see the beliefs that are holding you back from making the difference you can make at work. You can start to address those beliefs and challenge them and begin to convert them into truly helpful beliefs.

Tom Michler, a professional counselor, said, “We cannot consistently outperform our own belief system.” The more effective our beliefs become, the more they become an asset in helping us to make a significant difference.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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