At many sporting events across the world, you will typically see someone, usually at least one person, holding up a sign or banner that contains one word. Believe.
I’ve heard some cynics say that the word believe is something that losers use as their last, desperate rallying cry.
As a fan of teams who are usually desperate, I can see that, but there is something far bigger at play when we talk about believing in something. Belief pushes us, it moves us, and it motivates us. When we believe in something, we are more apt to give that something every ounce of energy and focus we can muster.
I’ve seen sports teams, students, speakers, and many other people achieve things that seemed impossible. Their belief, however, made it possible. They were able to go above and beyond their normal level of performance to reach greatness.
There are times in our lives when I hear people talk about faith. Some think that belief and faith are the same thing.
Faith is knowing something is possible. It’s an intangible concept. More than that, it’s a lazy concept. Faith isn’t active. It’s a passive form of belief. I’m not talking about religious faith. I’m talking about the idea of not seeking answers, not doing the mental work to create a better reality.
What does that mean?
It means that faith is an idea that something can be done, but it is out of your hands. You think something is possible, but only for others. And even if it is possible for you, you don’t have any power to make it happen.
Belief is different. It’s active. It makes you do the work. If you don’t do the work of believing, you are much more likely to fail.
Michael Jordan was perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time. He spent thousands of hours perfecting his craft and honing his abilities. But Jordan wasn’t the best because of all the time he spent in the practice gym.
He was the best because he believed.
In an article I read about twenty years ago, he talked about how belief made him who he was on the court. He said that before every game, he would make himself visualize making shots, playing good defense, stealing the ball, making great passes. His mind would run through play after play as he imagined his performance the way he desired it to be.
Using one’s imagination in this way is a powerful tool, and is the gateway to true, uninhibited belief.
Close your eyes for a second and imagine you are smelling fresh baked cookies. Don’t like cookies? Imagine something else that you love to smell.
How does that make you feel? Warm? Tingly? Happy?
When you use your imagination, it creates a feeling inside you. It puts you through a scenario that your body reacts to.
In relation to belief, that feeling creates the belief. When Michael Jordan ran through the games in his mind, he felt great about making all those shots, and when he stepped out onto the court, he believed he would make them.
There are hundreds of professional basketball players. They all spend time in the gyms, working out, shooting the ball, practicing for hours on end. Stands to reason that if all that was behind it was simple motor repetition, everyone who spent Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours on it would be just as good as Jordan. Lebron James would have some stiff competition.
It would be like that in any sport.
When it comes down to the marginal differences, belief wins.
How does this apply to your life?
Our beliefs create the reality around us. I’m not talking about manifesting things from thin air. But I do believe that there is a great truth in the notion that by using our imaginations, we create feelings, and those feelings become beliefs. In the end, those beliefs craft who we are, what we see and do, and what surrounds us.
My girlfriend bought herself her dream car a few years ago. She was so happy when she got it and still loves that car, possibly more than she loves me.
When I asked her about how she decided on that car, she said something striking. She said that she had been driving that exact car for ten years in her mind.
We can live the same way. It is hard, at times, to believe in something. When your body is riddle with tumors, or you are in the throes of depression from losing a relationship, or when your mind can think of nothing put pain, putting our imagination to work to create belief can seem nearly impossible.
It isn’t. You can do it. It just takes a little more effort and concentration.
Believe in yourself. I believe in you.
What do you believe? Tell me about it in the comments or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you. And if you get a chance, check out my story The Dream Rider 2. There are a lot of belief based ideas overflowing in that book.