“If you change what someone believes is possible, they’ll never be the same.”

Alex Banayan is the author of a new book called The Third Door.  As an 18-year-old college freshman, he set out to meet and interview some of the world’s most successful people, including Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, and Steven Spielberg.  His goal: to discover the secret to success.  In a recent radio interview, Alex delivered a killer line that captures the essence of the Belief Quotient:

“The soul of this book is really about possibility.  What I’ve learned is that you can give someone all the best knowledge and tools in the world, and their life can still feel stuck. But if you change what someone believes is possible, they’ll never be the same.”

Amy Cuddy: Fake it ‘til You Become It

Several years ago, I worked for a guy who started an offsite team meeting with an icebreaker of sorts.  He asked participants to strike “power poses”.  Power poses are body positions that typify a posture of confidence and authority.  Proponents claim that it fosters greater confidence.  They recommend practicing power poses before a job interview, a presentation, or other situation that calls for a short-term boost in confidence.

In a fantastic Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy explains the impact of our body language on our own behavior.  One of her recommendations is to replace “fake it ‘til you make it” with “fake it ‘til you become it.”  Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics; but the latter expression implies an underlying personal transformation that is lacking in the former.  In her Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy relates her own experience of “faking it until she became it”.

In The Belief Quotient, I lay out the virtuous cycle of belief, action, and results.  Amy Cuddy’s “fake it ‘til you become it” is a great (and uplifting) example of this virtuous cycle manifesting itself in a person’s life.

Great Quotes from Tom Bilyeu

I heard a great podcast this week from Mark Divine over at Unbeatable Mind. His featured guest was Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition and CEO of Impact Theory. 2 great quotes/takeaways from this interview:

  1. How do you address people’s belief system?  Tom Bilyeu proposes a “No BS” approach to ending the “poverty of poor mindset” by addressing people’s belief system.  Stop trying to convince people to do what they are not inclined to do (e.g. eat less, exercise more), and instead, change the narrative.  It’s the stories that we tell about the world and our place in those stories that shapes our beliefs and drives our behavior.
  2. On the importance of not wasting time: “Once you believe that you can do anything you set your mind to without limitation, how you spend your time becomes a spiritual consideration.”


I enjoy watching a show called Life Below Zero on the National Geographic Channel.  It’s a “reality show” about people who live off-the-grid in Alaska.  I admire the level of courage and tenacity that it takes to thrive under those kinds of circumstances.  Andy Bassich is one  of the people who is profiled on the show… he lives on the Yukon River with a team of sled dogs.  In a recent episode, Bassich made a statement about what it takes to succeed in Alaska.  “Experience leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to confidence, and confidence leads to success.”  It reminded me of the virtuous cycle of the belief quotient… Action produces results, results reinforce belief, and belief supports action.

The Perils of Hesitation

Not long ago I was watching an interview with Srinivas Rao, author of The Art of Being Unmistakable and host of the Unmistakable Creative blog & podcast.  After dropping out of his mainstream career track, Rao took up surfing; and discovered joy.  During this interview, he was describing the process of paddling out, waiting for the right moment, and catching a wave.  He described a moment known as the take-off.  This is the critical moment in which you have to fully commit.  If you hesitate, you wipe out.

Isn’t that a perfect description of so many of the key moments in our lives?  Hesitation kills.  Sometimes literally, but usually figuratively.  Lately I have taken to watching American Ninja Warrior with my family.  There’s an obstacle called the Ring of Fire.  It’s new this season, and a lot of the contestants have had problems with it.  Those who approach it cautiously go slowly and lose time on the course.  Those who fully commit sometimes get through it very fast; although full commitment has also led to some catastrophic wipeouts as well.   Those who begin with full commitment but question their decision in mid-stream inevitably fall into the drink and lose the race.

In other words; unhesitating commitment is high-risk/high-reward.  A cautious approach is low-risk, low-reward.  But a combination of the two – commitment, then hesitation at the wrong moment – almost always leads to complete failure.

Surfing and ninja warrior are both fast-paced, physical activities.  But doesn’t this same principle apply to other aspects of our lives? When we allow the thought of failure to get into our heads – especially at a critical moment – it destroys the momentum we need to launch along a trajectory of success.