Wholehearted Leadership Opinion: What’s on your mind?

We can all benefit from learning to silence limiting beliefs and thoughts that hold us back

Credit: iStock

We can all benefit from learning to silence limiting beliefs and thoughts that hold us back

The timing couldn’t have been worse. We were right in the middle of our session when it happened. A fire alarm.

More than 20 leaders were gathered for a three-hour workshop on coaching. Kim Ades from Frame of Mind Coaching was speaking to our TEC (The Executive Committee) group for executives. We were all keen to learn more about coaching—maximizing the potential of the people we lead.

Sadly, shortly after commencing, Kim was rudely interrupted by a fire alarm that sent us all scurrying into the street wondering when we would be let back in to finish our session. After 30 minutes, we were given an all-clear to head inside. Apparently the issue was in a distant area of the hotel.

After settling back in, we quickly jumped back into our session content. We were learning that great coaching is not simply behaviour modification. If you truly want to create a significant change in behaviour, you have to get at the root of that behaviour.

What we believe influences what we think about. What we think about influences our behaviour. Beliefs, thoughts, behaviour—it’s a continuum. Understanding what you think about leads you to better understand what you believe. Actually changing beliefs enables you to create lasting behavioural change.

As we were diving into the coaching content that Kim was presenting, having overcome our earlier fire alarm interruption, we were confronted by an even more ominous foe. The fire alarm had ended, but a new recorded message began to play over and over and over again. In fact, it repeated continuously.

“Attention, hotel guests and staff: this is a false alarm. I repeat, this is a false alarm. The problem that caused the alarm has been taken care of. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you.”

The recorded message blared out loud and clear from every speaker in the room. There was not a pause between each broadcast—it was continuous.

Kim pressed on with her presentation to ensure that we got the message that lasting change begins with understanding what we think about, to determine what we believe, so we can change our beliefs and our behaviour to create the change we want in our lives. Everyone in the room migrated from their seats to the front of the room to stand near Kim so they could hear her instead of the overpowering false-alarm recorded message.

We had to understand what the message was that was continuously playing in our heads. What is our inner voice telling us on an ongoing basis that limits our ability to be all that we can be? What are our limiting beliefs?

What’s on our mind?

When we’re presented with opportunities or challenges that can bring out the best in us, what are the thoughts playing over and over in our minds that keep us from standing up, stepping up and speaking up? What is the message playing over and over in your mind, overpowering what others may be saying to you?

And then the most powerful lesson of the day hit us: the false alarm message suddenly stopped. The overpowering message that had been a relentless distraction for more than 30 minutes was gone.


We all stopped and breathed in the silence, and the metaphor wasn’t lost on us. The unrelenting false-alarm message was like the limiting beliefs and thoughts that run through our minds, keeping us from being all that we can be.

The relief we all experienced in that moment of silence was a profound lesson on the freedom we can experience when we silence the voice of those limiting beliefs. In that moment, we felt peace. And the way we feel is a reflection of what we think.

Our thinking impacts what we achieve. Behaviour follows thought. Thought is rooted in beliefs.

Great coaching focuses on thinking and beliefs, not just behaviour.

So, what messages are playing over and over in your mind that limit your growth and development? What are you thinking about?

What’s on your mind?
And what’s on the minds of the people you lead?
David MacLean empowers CEOs, entrepreneurs and executives to dare greatly in his role as B.C. best practice chair for The Executive Committee Canada (TEC). David also writes and speaks on Wholehearted Leadership: inspiring, encouraging and equipping leaders to harness their most valuable asset—their HEART. You can reach him at dmaclean@tec-canada.com.