Adonis Diaries

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Belief: In yourself before believing in another one? Which belief is the hardest, which is more powerful, more beneficial…?

If you think believing in yourself is hard, try believing in others.

By Dan Rockwell?

Every leadership development tool, technique, method, and strategy fades in comparison to the power of belief. Everyone needs someone who believes in them; young leaders need it the most.

The people who change us the most believe in us the most.

The first person I coached changed when they understood their employer believed in them enough to invest time, energy, and money.

It was belief – not pearls of wisdom – that lowered their walls of protection and gave them permission to change.

People worry less about proving themselves and more about performance when they believe others believe in them.


Believing is risky. We don’t believe in others because we’re afraid they’ll make us look bad. In the end, the ability to believe is about us.

How to let others know you believe in them:

  1. Learn who they are.
  2. Provide opportunities, challenges, and risks.
  3. Explore options and solutions with them. “What would you do?”
  4. Call for and expect high performance.
  5. Explain the whys behind what you’re doing.
  6. Express confidence in their abilities. Be specific.
  7. Help them learn from failure rather than beating them up with it.
  8. Speak well of them in front of others. (Make it a habit when meeting other people)
  9. Connect them with experienced mentors.
  10. Deal with them according to potential.
  11. Invest your time in them.
  12. Keep your distance. As long as they know you’re on their team, don’t meddle.
  13. Avoid molding them into your likeness; help them find their own.
  14. Tell the truth even when it hurts them.
  15. Celebrate their efforts and contributions; minimize yours.

All successful leaders courageously believe in others.

How do you let others know you believe in them?

How do you decide to believe in someone else?

Misbelief? When does it start and how can you sustain this it?

We have a holiday for it, but no good words. Belief in disbelief.

The asymmetry between incredulity and credulity. The fact that too often we believe in the wrong stuff, follow the wrong leader and take the wrong medicine.

In just a few decades, we’ve managed to wreck April Fools as a useful holiday. The stakes are just too high.

For a long time, we’ve been easily fooled by patent medicines. Snake oil was a real thing.

People used electricity in the wrong places for the wrong illnesses.

We swallow silver, see a faith healer and spend all our money for a small bag of magic beans.

At the same time, we hesitate to see the doctor, don’t talk to her when we do, and fill prescriptions but don’t take them when we get home. We’re skeptical about vaccines but eagerly line up for oxygenated water…

We believe, but in the wrong things.

When someone tells us a certain kind of person is dangerous, we’re too eager to believe our xenophobic instincts. We work ourselves into a frenzy over a small injustice, but stand by when the big scam gets done right in front of our eyes.

And we don’t like being wrong.

Hence the paradox, the corner we’ve painted ourselves into: We need to believe, we want to believe, we benefit from believing. We can’t function without news and connection and forward motion.

But, we don’t like to be proven wrong.

So it’s easy to begin by calling it all fake, by non-believing. To become cynical and short-sighted and brittle.

But non-belief doesn’t help, because we can’t make forward motion without belief. No society works without trust and optimism.

Which leads us right back where we started, which is the cost of agency and the cost of freedom: the responsibility of believing in things that work. We received leverage and the price is responsibility.

Our job is to see our misbelief and replace it with better belief, thoughtful belief, belief in things that actually work.

No fooling.




March 2023

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