• Greg Offner

The 7 Keys of Successful Performance

The Key of B: Belief


Imagine you’re late for an important event.

Instead of heading out the door and finding a way to “make up” time, you’re frantically searching your house.

You can’t find your keys.

You call out to your partner, “Hey babe, I can’t find my keys. Have you seen them?”

And with that declaration, you’ve sealed your fate.

You’ve just told yourself a lie.

Want to know what it is?

Keep reading.

Meaning Making Machines

Our minds have been referred to as “meaning making machines

Give us a set of data, and our brain will search for a connection; for meaning.

So why aren’t we more vigilant about the data we feed it?

To answer that, let’s look at an example from business.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

If you enter senior leadership, you’re bound to hear someone talk about “practicing good data hygiene” Data hygiene is particularly important in sales and marketing.

Last year, the market for CRM’s — software organizations use to track their customers and prospects interactions — topped $15,000,000,000 globally.

For an organization to get the most from that investment, it’s critical that their CRM’s only contain accurate and actionable information on their deals, prospects, and customers.

But what does that have to do with lost keys?

Much like our brain, a CRM’s performance is only as good as the data we feed into it.

Ready Player Two

It’s 11am and Kim — my wife — was frantically trying to get our daughter ready to go a doctors appointment on time.

What was she doing, I wondered. We have to go, now!

Then, I heard her voice from upstairs: “Hey Greg, I’m trying to find the keys; do you remember where they are?”

“I’m sure I remember where I saw them last” I thought.

And then it hit me; like a bolt of lightning.

The subtle difference in her approach that made…well, all the difference.


It’s How You Use It, Right?

Whether it’s a CRM or our brain, the “machine” can only process the data (or, given parameters) we feed it.

In this case, my wife had provided the catalyst to change how I saw the situation.

She reminded me that reframing the data was as good — if not better — than changing the data altogether.


Two buddies trying to remember where they left their car, standing in front of a house on a sunny day
Screenshot from Dude, Where’s My Car ©️2000 20th Century Fox — All Rights Reserved.

When it came to how Kim and I approached the problem of lost keys, our data were nearly identical, except for one key (pun intended) component.

I said to Kim: “I can’t find my keys, have you seen them?” whereas Kim said to me: “I’m trying to find the keys, do you remember where they are?

I’ve restated the data below, so that the difference is glaringly clear:


My Data: The keys are missing. They cannot be found. I need more information.
Her Data: The keys are missing. I want to find them. I need more information.

My brain has been told “the keys are unable to be found” while Kim’s brain has been told “I will find the keys”

It’s this subtle, but important, difference in our belief that influences how our brain searches for supporting data.


Bridgerigar Invisia

If you haven’t seen the Pixar film “Onward” give it a watch this weekend; it’s fantastic.

When you do, you’ll see a scene where the main character needs to cross a bottomless pit to continue his magical quest.

To get across the chasm, his brother tells him of a spell — “Bridgrigar Invisia” — that will produce an magical bridge which can be used only if the person casting the spell truly believes


Clip from Onward ©️2020 Pixar / Walt Disney Pictures — All Rights Reserved“


Great stuff for a movie, but where’s the tie to real life” you may be thinking.

While belief may not be enough help you to cross an actual bottomless pit, it is a powerful force when it comes to our success.

Even when searching for keys.

The programming I provided my brain contained the belief ‘I can’t’, while Kim’s brain was told that the keys can (maybe even will) be found; and that she just needs more data; to keep looking.

So her brain seeks out ways to confirm that programming. It’s more attuned to identify where the keys are.

And this applies in many other areas of our life, too. “I’ll never get that promotion” “She’ll never go out with someone like me” “Those last 10 lbs are never going to come off my waistline”


Three people wearing labcoats are scrubbing and cleaning a giant brain; sitting atop a pillow
Practice good brain hygiene ©️2018 Science News

See, when we talk about data, what we’re really talking about is belief.

What are you telling your brain to believe?

Mastering the discipline of “good data hygiene” (or perhaps what we should call “belief hygiene”) isn’t just a technique for CRM’s — it’s a technique for overall success in our own lives.

So when it comes to the data you’re feeding your brain, be careful.

What you believe matters more than (what) you know.





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