Jim stared at the Steve, the company’s vice president. “Really?” he thought angrily. “You really want us to double sales before the year ends? It took twenty years to get sales to where they are, and now you think it’s possible to just double that in a little over five months?”
Glancing around the room, the reaction of his co-workers appeared mixed. Dave looked tired as usual. Cindy looked excited and Gerald looked as angry as he felt. A mixture of the same emotions appeared on others. Steve, either oblivious or uncaring of the reactions, continued his presentation.
“What a joke” Jim thought. “Why stay here and be worked to the ground in the name of a goal we’ll never reach? I don’t need this job. I’m set for a while.” Thoughts of an epic tirade and grand exit quickly entered his mind, but these thoughts left as he reflected on others in the room he knew were struggling. “Dave needs this job and doesn’t need any more stress or working hours. He’s having it hard enough with his sick children at home. Maybe I can do something. I’ll take the heat if it goes wrong.”
Jim could sense the nervousness rising in the room as Steve continued the presentation. “The Board has indicated that there will be layoffs if we can’t meet these goals,” Steve said, “but I believe that layoffs will not be necessary. I believe that you can all work hard to achieve these goals.”
Jim could barely contain his anger now. “He’s so used to being able to snap his fingers and have people jump to attention that he now believes he’s magic and can snap his fingers and sales will double” he thought to himself. Trying to force himself to remain calm, he spoke up. “What makes you ‘believe’ we can double sales that took twenty years to build? Do you have some idea of a new business strategy that will make this work?”
“I believe we can double sales because we have some amazing employees here” Steve responded evenly. “You are all capable of really incredible things, and you can all achieve whatever you put your mind to. If you all believe it is possible, then it’s possible. Anything is possible to those that believe.”
Jim heard Gerald mutter under his breath, “My brother-in-law believes he’s quite the lady’s man, but we’ve all seen how well that belief has worked for him.” Luckily, Steve didn’t seem to hear. Gerald’s comments usually made Jim smile, but he was too angry for that now.
“Anything is not possible to those that believe” Jim shot back quickly. “Many people believe their marriages will work, or that God will help heal them, or that,” he added with some sarcasm, “they can make millions out of nothing. All of us have believed in something that never came to be. You can’t manipulate what it means to really believe to pretend that we can now do something that isn’t possible.”
There were a few quiet Amen's heard at this point and some soft applause, but the sounds quickly died away as the smile Steve had been forcing quickly faded away.
“Jim,” Steve said, “your view of life is wrong. You are being pessimistic, and pessimism never really holds any belief other than the belief that things won’t work out. There are many accounts of marriages miraculously saved, people healed, and even of people that made millions overnight; all after they truly believed. Believing opens your heart to possibilities you couldn’t otherwise see, and when your heart is open, entirely new paths appear. There is no end to what a believing, open heart can achieve.”
“All you are doing,” Jim shot back, “is trying to make it my fault and not yours whether or not the company hits these insane expectations. If we don’t hit these goals, which we won’t, you will blame us. Are you going to lose your job if we don’t double our sales? Of course not. It’s our jobs on the line and our only reward for slaving toward an impossible goal is more work than ever.”
Jim continued, “Let’s pretend it is possible to double sales. Why should I focus so much on believing in a goal that makes others rich? You act like it is a simple thing to just believe and that we can do so at the push of a button. Belief takes energy and work, and we never truly believe if there is nothing in it for us. You want us to harness all that energy and focus and belief for a reward for the company that the sales team never sees.”
“Companies don’t exist without meeting certain benchmarks” Steve replied coolly. “Costs have gone up, society has changed a lot since Covid, and we have to adapt too. If you want to keep your job, we have to meet new benchmarks. Your job has allowed you to get your kids through school and to enjoy a nice life, all without having the responsibility that those at the top have undertaken. If you have no desire to work with others or anyone but yourself, feel free to go and start your own business. If that doesn’t work for you, you have to be part of something bigger, and you have to work for things that benefit others, as they are working for things that benefit you.”
Steve continued “to believe is really to become part of a community, to unite with others that also believe. You don’t have to hit these goals on your own. You will have others working, driving, and pushing to meet these goals. That means that, once the goals are hit, the company can keep operating, and you can keep your job, all because others believed and tried; however, there is no obligation to continue to employ someone who only serves as an anchor of doubt while the rest of the team is sailing forward with belief. No one likes freeloaders.”
Jim thought he could feel his support in the room waning, but he wasn’t ready to give up yet. “To really believe,” he countered back, “you have to believe in something that is true. Just because a goal exists and someone - or an entire community - believes in it doesn’t mean that it is obtainable. I could have a goal of making it to the moon tomorrow and believe I can accomplish it with all my heart, but no matter how much I believe, or others believe in me, I still won’t make it. It’s a three-day trip and no matter how much you believe, you can’t travel three-days in 24 hours.
“A goal doesn’t count as a goal unless it is achievable. We have words for unachievable goals. ‘Wishes’, ‘hopes’, ‘dreams’. Nothing substantial. You can believe in your wishes all you want but my feet are set in reality. Don't mock us by claiming it is possible to believe the impossible into existence.”
How do you think this situation ends? Who do you find yourself aligning more with? Steve or Jim?
Situations like this are fairly common, goals are fairly common, but so is failure, disappointment, and unmet beliefs, hopes and dreams.
So, what does it mean to really believe? What purpose does belief play in our lives? Is it worth it to believe?
Interestingly, there are many, many different answers given to these questions. And, from our perspective, belief is such an expansive concept that we don’t profess to fully know all that belief fully entails, as we are still working to understand it too.
However, there are a few principles we feel are part of what it means to really believe. A few of those include:
Really believing changes the mind’s ability to see and find opportunities;
Some mountains can be moved by those who really believe, but not all mountains are meant to be moved;
Real belief involves actions to pursue that belief;
Belief and desire are the foundational forces of life;
When we are intentional about our good beliefs and desires, we gain great fulfillment in life as we work to pursue our beliefs;
We will rarely, if ever, believe perfectly and will have to keep trying and working;
But, whether you find yourself as a pessimist, optimist, or somewhere in between, if you want to work to strengthen your belief – in yourself, in our nation, or in your ability to change the world, for good – then we hope you will consider joining us. We run an online series of classes and discussions that bring people together and help to strengthen and act on our ability to believe, to change the world, and to reach our divine potential inside. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the Zoom link to join the series.
We are a community of people who are on the path to learn what it means to really believe, and we would love to have you join us. Comment below though to let us know your perspective on what it means to really believe. We’re sure there is plenty you can help us learn.