I was grabbing coffee with a CEO.
He was building something that he believed does good in the world.
Having had a prior marketing agency, this was the thing he wanted to do.
He had raised a few million in funding and been building his platform for a couple years and was at a crossroads.
Does he shut down his business or fight through it?
It was a candid conversation.
He was explaining his options, his hesitations, and his fears.
At one point, after he shared context of where he’s at, he directly asked me what I think he should do.
My response was, “It depends. How intense is your conviction?”
The problem with passion
Everyone says it.
It’s the thing you need, right?
Find it or create it, who cares, just become it.
It's a fluffy feeling. You’ll know it when you see it.
Forget passion, find conviction.
What is conviction?
According to dictionary.com, conviction is a fixed or firm belief. It’s the state of being convinced.
A fixed or firm belief. Great.
Some would say conviction is the thing you would die for.
Conviction is deep down.
It’s profound. Powerful. It can be uncomfortable.
Intense conviction is the intensity of understanding.
The stronger the conviction, the greater the intensity of understanding.
The foundation of intense conviction is rooted in insight.
What is insight?
Insight is, well, let’s make it simple: It’s being in sight. It’s the ability to see something.
For us to see something, we must first learn how to use our eyes.
I’m calling people to see greater, to see beyond, and to not be afraid to see, so that we may strengthen our conviction in the things we do.
And I’m not talking about seeing something or experiencing something once and building a foundation around it (as many do). I’m talking about experiencing something dozens of times, or hundreds of times, with no agenda, and always seeing the same thing resurface. Beliefs, convictions, problems you want to solve, etc. Build your conviction from patterns.
Want to take it to the extreme? Find the same pattern thousands of times. That’s what I’ve done.
When I observe our humanity, I conclude that what brought us here won’t get us there.
The same strategies and tactics that helped in the past won’t help in the future.
The human experience (HX) is evolving quickly.
Find stronger conviction.
Why is intense conviction important?
Let’s flip this around. What does weak conviction look like?
How about the leader who is constantly changing their mind every time they hear a new speaker or thought leader share something?
What about the leader who leads with fear?
What about the leader who can’t make up their mind and doesn’t want to confront conflict?
Intense conviction gives us the foundation to execute against.
Intense conviction powers decisions, creates action, handles risks, and conquers doubt.
Intense conviction is, “I am not sure exactly how this will get done, but I know it must, and I trust myself to figure it out.”
I believe in entrepreneurs who play for the long-term.
I believe in entrepreneurs who fight for their legacy. Human beings who believe so strongly in what they’re doing that they train for the day they die.
(Ok, ok, I know that sounds extreme. I'm talking about people who are all in.)
This could mean you want to stay at your business for as long as possible.
Or it could mean you want to build companies and flip them, like a serial entrepreneur.
Either way, I believe in thinking about our legacy and living it proactively.
Legacy is our value to humanity.
It’s the thing that we leave behind.
It’s about the way we affect others.
It’s about the unborn generation that we will never meet.
It's about perspective.
Why is intense conviction important?
If conviction is a fixed belief, then I want to make sure that your belief has roots.
For a giant tree to withstand storms, it must have deep roots. Would you ever plant a tree in soil that limited the growth of roots?
It must have a strong foundation.
If our beliefs and values about life shape the way we experience life, as an entrepreneur, I want to make sure your beliefs and values are strong.
Intense conviction is deep and lasting. Find ways to strengthen your conviction.
Find the conviction until every cell in your body understands the truth you breathe.
Not for you, but for your vision, and for the people you’re leading. If you don’t have the conviction to live the life you cannot not live, then how do you expect others to join you?
Great entrepreneurs understand that self is the foundation of everything.
Intense conviction won’t guarantee success, but lack of it will bring failure.
Allow it to consume you.
The suffering we experience can be rooted in the lack of conviction for the way we spend our seconds.
Two types of conviction for entrepreneurs
The fixed beliefs we hold and the deeper why behind why we do what we do in our business matters.
First, the beliefs we hold, shape the way we experience life.
For instance, if I believe that fear motivates people best, and if I lead with fear, then I limit legacy.
We are made up of hundreds of different belief patterns.
Some conscious, some not. Some known, some unknown.
Next, is conviction for why you do what you do.
I talk with some entrepreneurs who drew an idea on a napkin and thought it was a “cool idea.” And then I talk with entrepreneurs who experienced the problem first hand and are solving a challenge that they deeply understand.
The latter creates stronger conviction.
The reason people don’t seek out intense conviction
To create intense conviction that stands the test of time requires someone to question their beliefs.
That is, strength in conviction requires that we first understand our beliefs, the stories we tell ourselves, and ideas we execute against.
This process requires vulnerability. Entrepreneurs who get it understand the value of vulnerability in business (and the foundation of innovation, change, and creativity it creates).
We don’t challenge or question our beliefs because often, we cling onto them, and the idea of changing them is scary.
Well, at least, sometimes they are made out to be scary, so they end up being feared.
Often, that fear is irrational. I don’t buy into the oversensitive communication our society has adopted. We’ve built up that construct of fear around beliefs. I’m not saying everyone needs to introduce themselves with their political or religious beliefs. What I am saying is that when we’re open to challenging and questioning perspectives, beliefs, and values, we create opportunity for growth.
(And by the way, the beliefs I speak about having nothing to do with politics or religion. The beliefs I speak about have to do with hundreds of different ways we treat others, live, and lead.)
How to find and create intense conviction
I’m fascinated by how we build up beliefs in our earlier years of life that may not support us in our later years of life.
If you want to find and create intense conviction between your beliefs, values, and why you do what you do, you must first intensify your understanding.
I believe what I believe because I’ve had it reaffirmed hundreds of times. And no, I’m not exaggerating. (I also didn’t initiate my search trying to affirm a pre-existing truth)
This journey to creating conviction is the foundation of conscious living or being mindful. This is about making connections in our mind so that we can do what we do, better. This is about self-awareness.
Let’s call it what it is: the society we live in doesn’t cultivate healthy belief systems.
To create strength in your beliefs you must unpack them completely and then put them back together.
If you fear that process, it's because you've accepted the construct projected on you by the world.
Instead of fearing the unknown and uncertainty from questioning your beliefs, you must trust in your ability to come to a conclusion. Trust that in your mind, you are physically safe.
And please, whatever you do, don’t cling onto your beliefs like a baby who cries when his pacifier gets taken away.
It’s ok, you’re in control of your beliefs. It’s all in your mind, anyway.
Many entrepreneurs are stubborn and this trait can serve them well if they are wisely stubborn. That is, if they protect their beliefs and values but still openly challenge and question what comes into their filter. There is strength in open-mindedness.
Immerse yourself in the thing you want to learn.
Understand all angles.
Journal about it nightly to keep it top-of-mind. Conviction is about incorporating your convictions into life. You get what you focus on.
Talk to people about your beliefs and open yourself up to questioning.
Make time to reflect on your belief patterns and inner story so that you can strengthen them.
Put in the effort.
Think big. Think legacy.
Find the conviction.