W. Clement Stone is famously credited with saying, “Anything the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve.”
I accept that as absolute truth, but when I hear some motivational speakers utter that line, I want to shout, “You lie!” Because they tend to make it sound like some kind of magic formula. I think there has been a lot of misunderstanding of this well-known notion. And I believe that many motivational speakers and writers wind up just hyping their audiences, leaving them to figure out the details for themselves.
I attended a seminar a few years back where the speaker asked the audience, “How many of you believe you could earn $200,000 a year?” Every hand in the room was waving frantically. “How about $500,000?” he asked. Still most of the hands were up. “A million?” About half the hands had come down. “How about $10 million?” Again, almost all of the hands were raised and shouting and stomping pandemonium ensued.
Now, if you don't believe your work is worth a million bucks, how can you believe it is worth 10? How can we possibly imagine that 10 is more doable than one? In my opinion, that goes to what it means to "believe"?
I mean, I loved “The Secret.” But, apparently the Secret is still secret. “You want it? Just believe it and you’ll attract it!” As Dr. Phil might say, “How’s that working for you, sport?”
“Believing” for some folks is more a, “Yeah, that would be cool,” kind of thing, a “Tinkerbelle” version of belief: If we just wish it hard enough, and clap our hands loud enough… Or, maybe we can wish upon the evening star. Trust me, there are no incantations we can repeat to cajole the gods into giving us what we think we deserve.
Believing has to become more than wishful thinking. Like I say in my book, Mental Housecleaning, you don’t “believe” in gravity. “It’s not just a good idea, it’s the Law!” When you step off a cliff, you can chant, “I don’t believe in gravity,” all the way to the bottom. (Good luck with that!)
Our brains have often been likened to computers, and in many ways that computer characterization is accurate. Here’s an example: On my computer, if I’m writing something and I don’t like it, or I just want to change it, I select what I don’t want by highlighting it. Then I hit the “Delete” key and write the stuff I want to say.
Our brains have a similar rewrite function, but we often neglect, or don’t know we ought to (or even that we can) delete the old stuff first. We wind up with conflicting and confusing orders. The old pathway is well worn and much easier to trigger.