What Limiting Beliefs Hold Your Company Back?

Jun 2nd, 2016

“The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove oneself a fool; the truest heroism is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when it be obeyed.”  ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Limiting beliefs hold back employees from taking risks and thinking creatively.

Limiting Us_BeliefsHuman beings are chock-full of limiting beliefs. And corporations, successful as they may be, are made up of individual human beings who take actions based on their beliefs… limiting or otherwise.

We work with many HR directors who come to us looking for solutions to bring their company together. They want the employees to collaboratively work toward a larger vision in alignment with the mission of the company, to make money but also to empower and embolden the individual as well.

Over and over again in our work with companies and their employees, we see that the limiting beliefs that hold back individuals also affect the corporation as a whole. If one team member thinks, “I can’t do that,” she affects her fellow employees, sometimes in a profound way.

On the other hand, when an employee confidently declares, “Yes, I can do that!” she will affect her coworkers in a positive way.

The limiting beliefs that circulate in your office will affect the company’s overall performance. Here’s how we address this at Fire Power Seminars (and how you can help your organization improve productivity, efficiency and overall employee experience).

Fear is the Limiting Factor

Our work basically teaches people how to face their fears. Board breaking, firewalking, communication seminars, and group activities often make participants feel more than a little uncomfortable. And rightly so! It can seem daunting to look at a bed of hot coals and think about walking across it barefoot.

Of course, we never force a group member to do anything they don’t want to do. But most of them want to do it. Most people, deep down inside, want to have the experience of facing their fear and overcoming it.

On a very basic level, fears and limiting beliefs arise as a form of self-protection. If a tiger chases you down the street, chances are you’ll never want to be in close proximity to a tiger again. You’ll develop a healthy fear of tigers. That fear would serve to prevent you from entering into another situation where a tiger might eat you.

However, the fear no longer serves you when you’re in the toy store with your son and a small plastic tiger scares you out into the street.

When we can address our fears, understand how they once may have served us but no longer work to our advantage, we can recognize the pattern and make a different choice.

In the workplace, employees that aren’t working together or functioning optimally are often held back because of fear. Maybe a boss from a previous job humiliated him when he shared an idea, so now he won’t speak up in meetings. Or maybe she saw her father get fired when she was a young child and now she’s terrified of getting fired herself so she’ll never take a risk.

Whatever the reason, fears lead to limiting beliefs lead to less effective performance at work.

The way to help your employees become more valuable players in the office is to help them bust through their own limiting beliefs (and trust us, when you provide this structure for your employees, they will love you for it).

Break Through a Board, Quit Smoking

One of our favorite examples of this in action happened at a board- breaking seminar for a company in Indiana. One man in the audience was a smoker, and when it came time for him to share his goal, he said, “Since my lungs aren’t working at full efficiency, I’m not there with my kids and I’m not fully available at work.”

He wrote down his goal to quit smoking on one side of the board and on the other side he wrote down his fear that he wouldn’t be able to stop. Moments later, he smashed through the board with his bare hand.

That man stopped smoking in that moment.

We are creatures of habit and creatures of patterns. Our beliefs are nothing more than the experiences we have in life: what we learn from our parents, our teachers and our friends. People sabotage themselves and others so often because they don’t realize that their patterns of limiting beliefs are so hindering.

And when your employees are suffering with these limiting beliefs, your organization is carrying those beliefs along with it, too.

How to Spot the Limiting Beliefs

When we lead organizations through board breaking seminars, fire walks or team building retreats, we see a full spectrum of limiting beliefs manifesting themselves into real-world behaviors. It’s amazing to watch!

As soon as we start the group activities or discussion, you’ll see somebody go quiet, another person reach for their mobile device and another start cracking jokes to the person next to them.

In our team building retreats, we get to see people’s coping mechanisms. No matter the activity, the coping mechanisms always show themselves!

One of our favorite ways to build trust within teams and bust through the Silo Mentality is through activities like bicycle building. We intentionally mix people up so they’re not necessarily grouped with the same people they’re used to working with on a daily basis. Immediately, they’re thrown into a world of unknown with new people and a new activity!

We recently facilitated several team building activities for The Children’s Trust, an organization that hired us to run their all staff retreat. They walked away from the day with a much greater appreciation for each other simply because they spent a day working in creative and collaborative ways with people in their organization who they usually only passed in the hallway.

If there is going to be true camaraderie in any organization, all entities have to be involved from the top executives to the teenagers in the mailroom. The whole idea is to help people pinpoint their limiting beliefs and behaviors, and of course this includes upper management.

In fact, here is what some of the employees had to say after the retreat (which also included board breaking) was finished:

“The highlight of the retreat for me was being able to experience other colleagues. Meaning, communicating in a team setting with colleagues that I don’t normally have contact with on a daily basis. It was pleasantly surprising to work with others from different work departments.”

“Breaking the board made me think beyond obstacles. Additionally, seeing others break boards also made me feel like my teammates are equally as forward-looking.”

“The entire retreat was tons of fun and certainly inspiring to me both personally and professionally. My favorite activity was the board breaking. It just goes to show that limitations are often a figment of our imagination or a product of our negative thoughts.”

Do you think that the employees who were given an opportunity to break through their own limiting beliefs came back to work the next week feeling more confident, more engaged with their coworkers, and ready to handle whatever the week had to throw at them? You bet!

In fact, in our follow up with the organization, we learned that the company has had less internal complaints since the retreat and they feel that the communication has become much better within the office.

Employee Development is Not Optional

We’ve always told companies that if you want to truly build fantastic teams, team building exercises and employee development is not optional. Employees need to trust each other. They must have some level of vested interest in the people they sit next to in the office, otherwise there’s no incentive for them to work together.

In the same way, encouraging your staff to break through obstacles that affect them personally and professionally can only benefit your organization. Some may become more bold in asking for what they need in the office, others may present a creative new way to streamline systems. Still others may go ahead and shoot for the promotion they’ve always wanted, strengthening your organization from within.

We create environments where people get uncomfortable so they can get to the next level as an individual and as a team. If you are ready to take your organization to the next level, please contact us to set up a time to speak with us directly.




Karen Pfeffer
Karen is passionate about sharing powerful programs on communication, empowerment, team building and transformation. With a father from Kansas and a mother from Puerto Rico, Karen has a unique cultural mix that has inspired her to challenge stereotypes and “push the envelope” at every opportunity. She co-founded Fire Power Seminars with Connie Phelan in 2006 to empower individuals, organizations, and companies to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

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