The power of thought: why we carry around limiting beliefs with Empowered Achievers’ Chris Castillo

Collin Stewart, CEO

24 October 2019

Early on in my sales career, long before I had any substantial experience, I was given a business phonebook by my manager and told to start cold calling. There was no training, no supplemental sales collateral, no support. 

Not surprisingly… it didn’t go well.

And that “failure” stayed with me for quite some time. I thought I was terrible at cold call calling, and for someone embarking on a career in sales, that’s a tough realization to handle. Afterall, cold calling is a cornerstone of the profession and if you’re interested in outbound sales (as, obviously, I am) then it’s a skill you should possess.

Over time, thankfully, I came to realize this wasn’t a personal failure – it was a systems failure. And when I was lucky enough to join a company with a better and more mature sales system, I flourished. But I carried those negative feelings with me for much longer than I should have. I had convinced myself I was bad at cold calling, and I needed more experiences to change that mindset.

This is, unfortunately, an all-too-regular experience for people in sales (and in the workforce in general). Beliefs drive actions and, thus, results. And if we carry around negative beliefs, rooted in any number of experiences, can hinder us significantly.

“Mindset is huge, so much of what you think drives what you get. How you get negative beliefs is simple: if you believe something to be true, and you have a lot of examples, it will seem true. When you’re told Santa is true as a child, then you begin to see the proof: cookies are gone, there are presents, and you can see Santa at the mall,” says Chris Castillo, Founder of Empowered Achievers, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“That is how beliefs form. We are told something, we collect proof and experiences, and we start to believe. And we tend to take something that is true some of the time to be true all of the time. We think in black and white terms, and that isn’t advantageous.”

Why do we develop limiting beliefs in the first place?

That’s a good question – in some cases it can be advantageous (so as to not hurt ourselves physically) and in others, it can be quite restricting (professionally, for instance).

Regardless of where your beliefs pop up, what this all boils down to is: we see things and have experiences and we come to conclusions based on those events.

For example, Castillo used to believe that the only way she could be successful was to take the corporate route in her career. Her dad was successful in a corporate environment, and that is what she looked up to.

Entrepreneurship, at least at that time, just didn’t make sense.

This is a fascinating example because Catsillo’s mother was a successful entrepreneur. And although she had started a thriving business, a primary recollection she has regarding her mother’s work was that her father once said: “your mom had done so well recently that it paid for the vacation that year.”

Instead of taking that as an example of the power of entrepreneurship, Castillo instead believed that working for yourself was only to make “fun” money, not real money.

“I took that to mean that it didn’t pay for anything else. And I took that with me,” says Castillo.

“My dad would have been mortified that I took it that way – it wasn’t what he meant at all. But, that stuck with me.”

And that’s how simple it can be – an off-hand comment one time, and the roots of a limiting belief can set in. 

(Editor’s note: we had Kaitlyn Buckheit, Sales Development Manager at Lever, on the pod recently to discuss the power of positivity in sales. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the whole in-depth interview here)

The rewiring process 

Of course, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Limiting or negative beliefs can be rewired.

When it comes to healthier ways to deal with your beliefs, it’s a simple as coming up with new healthy ways of describing those beliefs.

Let’s use cold calling as an example. Instead of saying “I am not good at cold calling” try “I know with continued exposure to calls, I will get better.”

If you have a lot of proof for a limiting belief – let’s say cold calling has been an issue for you for years – then add more proof to your helpful ways of looking at it with specific examples. Find real life examples of people who changed their lives, or got better at calls. Personal example can be powerful as well: if you get better on your fifth call, then tell yourself that. 

“It takes time to deal with this. But over time, it gets easy,” says Castillo.

“But when you are first trying to train your brain to believe new things, old beliefs come back. Or, you hear someone say something and you are triggered back.”

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Coaching your reps about their beliefs

So, how do you coach your reps about their limiting beliefs? Well, in much the same way you would coach yourself. Encourage your team to look at their limiting beliefs, and examine what things they have heard or seen that led to that belief.

This can be a personal discussion, so make sure to establish an open, safe relationship with your reps. Remember: you are asking them, in some cases, to dig deep and examine where some potentially life-long thoughts have come from.

“I can tell you, based on all of the calls I’ve been on, finding things they have heard or seen can be found,” says Castillo.

“And then ask these questions: what is the advantage of keeping it around? What is it based on? How does it serve you? How does it hinder? That’s what you want to know.”

But, one word of warning – don’t just have your reps replace their hindering beliefs with the opposite. For example,  just saying “I’m a great cold caller” may not work. 

Try to establish a more gradual progression like: “I’m new at cold calling, but the way to get good is to make 1,000s of cold calls” or “I know with continued exposure to calls, I will get better.”

And with that new belief, over time, your team will.

For more on Castillo’s thoughts on empowering team members and reframing long-standing beliefs, check out the rest of her interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

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