The world’s best managers know that to help each employee soar, they must first build upon their innate talents.
While playing tennis recently with my kids, I was reminded how certain assumptions permeate our everyday life. As I ran puffing from one side of the court to the other, trying to return serve (and sometimes succeeding), I realized that I was out of touch with my body’s capabilities.
In fact, I was surprised at what my body was yelling at me. My aching muscles and labored breathing were crying out that age and lack of exercise had slowed down my reflexes and severely reduced my stamina.
Before we started playing, I had imagined blasting lightning-fast serves, hitting perfect shots down the line, and smashing a game-winning return, just like Venus Williams does. But as we played, the gulf between imagination and reality widened.
I was living in a fantasy world.
So why did I ever imagine I would perform any differently? I wondered about this as I nursed my sore muscles. Sitting on the sidelines, deflated and defeated, it dawned on me that I had unwittingly fallen prey to this prevalent assumption: “Whatever you can believe, you can achieve.”
This assumption saturates popular culture and is very much a part of America’s philosophical and political heritage. It is an underlying theme in great speeches and novels — even in popular songs.
One hot song on the charts in recent years, R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” articulated this assumption perfectly. At the heart of this assumption, is the idea that all we need is sincere belief, and we can accomplish anything.
I could not disagree more strenuously with this notion.
Find out why Ken disagrees with this popular belief in Part II tomorrow!
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 20 May 2002
Photo courtesy shuravaya at iStock photo