Sunday, September 5, 2010

You can be Lance Armstrong

Over the last half year, one of my favorite shows has become American Next Top Model. In this show, thirteen lovely ladies compete to become the Next Top Model. They get taught, they get prepped and they get tested. Some of them have never modeled before, others have modeled from the time they were wearing diapers. The reason I like this show so much these days, is because you can see how the underlying beliefs of the women influence their skills, their capacity to learn and improve, the choices they make under pressure, and their change to win the competition.

This show seems living proof that an optimistic positive view towards the enormous challenging competition helps the winner reach the top. I admire Tara Banks and her colleagues for creating a program on television that shows us that nothing is impossible until you make it impossible. The women who win the competition grow and change in unexpected ways and the women in the end are clearly not the same women that started the competition.

Some people will tell you that starting something is the hardest part and after that it get’s easier. Others say that starting is easy and it get’s harder along the way. I have the opinion that it has nothing to do with start, or continuation over time. It mostly has to do with the evidence you create to support or undermine your goal(s). In other words “it get’s easier because you create or buy the belief it get’s easier” and “it get’s harder because you create or buy the belief it get’s harder”. This is independent of where you are in your process of reaching for your goal.

It goes back to simple calculus

Supportive Beliefs < Not Supportive Beliefs = minimizing chance of reaching goal
Supportive Beliefs > Not Supportive Beliefs = expanding chance of reaching goal

Creating the biggest possibility to reach your goal can be brought back to the easy skill of addition and subtraction. To reach your goal, you want to create an internal environment where you have more supportive beliefs then unsupportive beliefs. The combination of that supportive attitude and the action you take every day to reach towards your goal gives the biggest chance to fulfill your dream(s).

Without even having to change one belief, you can already enormously influence your outcome by collecting most beliefs in the category of supporting beliefs.

What beliefs do you hold?
“I will screw up, I know!”
“I will make it work, I always do!”

The best way I have found to quickly and clearly understand my beliefs about a situation, is taking a piece of paper and just start writing down whatever comes up in my mind without categorizing it. Then, when the flow of words has stopped, I read the list and sort them into the supportive and unsupportive categories.

Beliefs of family, friends and other regular acquaintances
“You will screw up, I know, you always do!” says your brother.
“You will make it work, you always do!” says your boss happily.

Beliefs are sold all the time, and not all of them will fit your category of supportive beliefs. There are times you will find yourself with more people that are supportive towards your goals, and other moments where this seem to be less the case. You better figure out in what situation you are right now. Just think of the different people you know and write down how they respond to your goals. Again, only after your flow of words has stopped, you go over the list and sort the beliefs into the supportive and unsupportive categories.

Other resources (school, professionals, television, radio, internet etc.)
“The world is an unsafe place” conclude readers of a daily newspaper that reports about the world’s wars going on.
“Potentiality is when you listen to your heart and know that anything is possible no matter what is going on around you. -Deepak Chopra” gives readers hope to change.

The world is one big bowl of beliefs. Some will support your goal, others will not. If you want to influence your belief system a bit more this is a place where you can find what you are looking for. Do you need some more supportive beliefs to make your calculation work? This is a good place to start. You are stopping with smoking? You can Google the results of improvement in health measured in people who quit smoking. You don’t want to stop smoking? You can Google the stories where people smoked to old age and never got lung cancer and add that to your belief list.

Regular Check-in’s
This is the funny thing with belief systems: it is changing all the time! The beliefs that seemed supportive a week ago might now turn out unsupportive. The person who helped you start your challenge, might ask you at an later point to stop your activity. And you may change your mind too! The consequences of your actions may have you change course halfway the route, and change your goal.

This is scary!
Here we get to the core of why we don’t do what we say we want to do: the outcome is not written in stone. We don’t know what the outcome will be in the end. Most people don’t like this and decide to not start if they are not certain they will receive what they thought to receive in the first place. But they do not realize that if the outcome is not written in stone the results could be better then they could ever be imagined in the first place.

I am quite certain that Lance Armstrong did not have in mind to become a seven-time winner of the Tour the France, but he did! I also do not believe that when he retired in 2005 he believed he would to return to the Tour the France again in 2009, but he did and came in 3rd. What an enormous accomplishment that goes far beyond what we would dream for ourselves.

The future is not written in stone, and that means you can be the Lance Armstrong of your life. You can use beliefs to create a supportive environment for your goal. Look closely at what you think and listen to what others have to say. Recognize the beliefs that are out in the open. Sift out the beliefs that are useful to you and add them to your list of supportive beliefs. Make sure your list of supportive beliefs is way longer then the unsupportive beliefs list. And last but not least, re-evaluate your list regularly, so you stay on top of all changes happening.

If you do not feel strong and empowered by the end of this exercise, it might be time to ask for someone to help so you can get to this place of empowerment.

I believe you can do whatever you want!


  1. I feel like Lance today: few people can understand what a victory it is to me to have 2 clean rooms, but I'm SO proud, and I keep on progressing.

  2. This could have been your quote, Iris - I loved this blog. Joy

    "Start by doing what is necessary
    then do what is possible
    and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

    St. Francis of Assisi


Read, smile, think and post a message to let us know how this article inspired you...