I’ve resolved to take 2013 just a little less seriously. In this spirit, here are a few thoughts on the discussion that seems to be everywhere around now – making changes because it’s the start of a New Year.

Regardless of what you have resolved to do, whether it’s to improve a less than functional leadership team, deal with a work challenge or lose some weight, there are a number of reasons why we fail to grasp and address the bigger issues facing us.

Here then, are three limiting beliefs we tell ourselves when we fail to do things that we know we should, or fail to deal effectively with them – together with an antidote that can free us to act.


Limiting belief  1 – “People don’t change”

“Anyone who has ever been to a school reunion knows that everyone is much like they were when you first knew them decades ago. They may be a little rounder, have a few more wrinkles and a little less hair but they are still essentially the same people.”

“It’s the same for difficult people in my team as it is for changing myself. The key to avoiding disappointment is low expectations!”


We exercise choices in everything we do and every day we develop new approaches to modify our actions to get better results. We can’t change who we are – and that’s a good thing (most of the time) but we can change how we behave – and the results of even small changes can be dramatic.


Limiting belief  2 – “The time isn’t right”

“Things change when they are ready. There’s no point starting until the stars are all in the correct alignment. With my team, I’ll begin when the next change in membership happens, or perhaps the one after that, or the one after that…”

“With changes for me, I’d best wait until the time is absolutely perfect. I’m sure that will happen any time now!”


The time is never perfect – there are always many reasons why now isn’t a good time – both good and some bad. If we want to make progress, therefore, we just have to learn to work in the rain. What we can say for certain is that the sooner we start, the sooner things will improve!


Limiting belief  3 – “If I make a little effort on this from time to time, I can at least keep the problem at bay”

“I’m not really sure what to do, or what might work, so the best thing to do is to have a little dabble in lots of different things. I’ll arrange a team away day every few months and perhaps run the occasional teambuilding session. It’ll make me feel that I’m doing something”

“A little bit of effort here and there, in whatever I’m trying to change is better than nothing – at least until I can deal with it properly”


We know that serious challenges need proper attention and sustained effort. It takes a while to change behaviours or habits but the payoff, when we succeed, is that we can make the new ways of doing things habitual – so that we no longer have to spend time or mental energy on worrying about them.


To act – or not to act

I know I recognise myself in all of the above delusions.  I also know, as you probably do, that the choices I’m making are sometimes counterproductive – even plain stupid. Usually, these choices are underpinned by one of these limiting beliefs.

There’s nothing new here to most of us. We all know, and have used, the antidotes many times. If you have an important challenge that you’re not fully grasping, which of these limiting beliefs might be holding you back – and how might a shift to the antidote to move things forward?


A first step

Whichever belief shift is helpful, it’s best to simply begin rather than worry about the overall scale of the problem or the possible complexities of resolving it. Almost always, this first step takes the form of a conversation with a colleague, a loved one or someone outside the situation who might be able to help.

If your problem is a leadership team which is holding you back, or failing to grasp the opportunities in front of you then please get in contact to arrange a free, no obligation team strategy session. This 90 minute, 1:1  conversation will help you clarify your own thinking and provide you with a range of ideas and options for ways forward .

If it’s another problem, who could be the first person you could speak to about it? If there’s more than one, just pick the easiest one and make a start!


Wishing you a wonderful 2013, full of productive changes, reassuring stability and great outcomes.


Chris Henderson


Read more

Please visit our website to read more about The Six Conversations Leadership Team programme or download our article, the Seven Illusions of Leadership which shows what it looks like in practice – based around a real case study.

Better still, give us a call on 0845 519 7871 to explore your issues further or to arrange a free Strategy Session.