If I look back on my life, I see that each time achieved something of value, it was because of a combination of four things: talent, confidence, grit, and conviction. Talent is what you are born with and need to nurture. Confidence is belief in you. Grit is finishing the fight. I spoke of those two things in recent blogs. So what is conviction?
Conviction is belief in what you do – knowing deep down that it is relevant and right. You can be talented, confident and perseverant, but if you don’t believe in what you are doing, if you don’t believe it is vital, beautiful and worth your time, then your work will be arid. It will lack passion. And people will see it.
How does one develop conviction? Find projects that speak to your mind and heart. If a project doesn’t engage your mind and heart, find a way to make it do so. This is a big problem facing a lot of working professionals today. I encounter many people who do their jobs not because they believe in it but because it’s a ‘means to an end.’ I understand this condition perfectly. I was in the same boat for many years. We can’t always have the luxury of conviction when there are bills to be paid. But having said that, we also cannot grind away at jobs that destroy our souls, piece by piece. So what’s the alternative?
We have to learn to create meaning in what we do. I use the word ‘create’ because it’s imperative. Most of the time, things that get handed down to us have no meaning. They make no sense. It is up to us to:
1. Infuse these tasks with meaning: Go beyond the ‘how’ of the task and explore the ‘why’.
2. Connect them to our values: Find a way to make the task or project personal. Put something of yourself into it.
3. Communicate the same to others: Once you have the conviction, share it with others to increase teaming.
What does this achieve? Many things.
It means you go from ‘I have to check a box’ to ‘I have to do this well because it’s important.’ You now have a strong, driving principal for the goal.
It is aligned to your values.
When times get tough, you don’t give up because you know you are working on a deeper level. Working with conviction rewrites the emotional patterning in your mind, gives you a good, new story, and a good story is greater than a bad day.
Imagine this: There are three kids in grade seven preparing for IIT JEE which have to take after grade twelve. It involves six years of rigorous work – probably a lot more work and lot less play. Everyone is talented and confident. Only a few have grit and conviction. The years go by. The challenges multiply. It gets harder and harder to master the subjects and what makes it even more challenging is that there is no guaranteed reward. They may not make it.
At this point, two things happen. Some people lose heart. Some people strengthen resolve.
Conviction deepens. Or it weakens.
Kids whose convictions stay strong (if not stronger) are not just kids who are perseverant. They are perseverant because they have a mental image in their minds as to why they are doing this and what it will give them. They are passionately attached to that end game. It resonates with their core. They have conviction. The good story in their head is always greater than the temporary spells of lacklustre performances, the discouraging words of their teachers, and the peer pressure.
They are doing it for themselves, for the power of their convictions.
Conviction is the greatest thing you can have on your side to be successful. Conviction creates grit. How do you recognize people with conviction in a crowd?
1. They are passionate about their goals and that means they have chosen goals that resonate with their deepest values
2. They are confident and courageous
3. They trust their gut
4. They have grit; they are relentless and incurably optimistic
5. They embrace uncertainty instead of capitulating to it; they are agile
People with conviction make good leaders. When leaders have conviction, they give other people vision, passion, the tools to deal with uncertainty, and they create a culture of positive energy. They make people understand the ‘why’ of a task and once you know the ‘why’ and believe in it, the ‘how’ becomes self-explanatory.
So if you are not working from a place of belief, from a place that resonates with your deepest values, take time to figure it out. And if you don’t have the luxury to find work that addresses all your deepest beliefs, take comfort in the fact that the world works the same way and you can always find ways to create meaning in your work.
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.