The Empowered Blog

How Leaders Break Through Sabotaging Beliefs … Rapidly

Imagine … you are walking through a nearby park with the intent of getting to the other side.  Along the way, you run into a large brick wall that stops you dead in your tracks and prevents you from reaching your ultimate destination.

leadership beliefsThat’s what your limiting beliefs are like … large brick walls that prevent you from reaching your destination.  These mental brick walls paralyze you.  They block you.  And above all else, they seem impossible to move.

In the companion article to this one – The Secret to Rapid Leadership Breakthroughs, I addressed …


  • Necessary conditions of any inner leadership change
  • How changing leadership beliefs changes company results
  • 3 core types of limiting leadership beliefs
  • Client example of how a leader’s sabotaging belief was impeding his growth to become President of the company.

If you have not read that article, click here to learn how leadership beliefs can impact your performance.

Detect Your Sabotaging Leadership Beliefs Before They Do Damage

As mentioned in the companion article, you can think of your sabotaging beliefs as internal terrorists – those voices in your head that hijack youyou are not worthy … you can’t do something … it’s impossible, etc.

Most of those sabotaging beliefs exist at the unconscious level – that is, below our awareness – and they are running your show.  Because beliefs exist at the unconscious level, asking yourself what they are doesn’t work because you truly don’t know.

The BIG question then is …

How can you detect your sabotaging beliefs to achieve a breakthrough?

The answer is Your Language.

Beliefs follow their own linguistic structure.  Think Sherlock Holmes.  You have to be a linguistic detective and pay attention for those structures.

Remember the 3 types of beliefs – covered in the companion article — that every leader needs to be aware of.  Let’s take a look at examples of how each type of belief can be reflected in your language.

Beliefs about Cause/Effect

Possible belief language: “ If/then,” “because,” “the reason is …”

Leadership examples of “cause beliefs”: 

  • “If I assert myself, they won’t like me.”
  • “If I don’t do this job perfectly, they will fire me.”
  • “I fear taking risks because I will fail.”
  • “Just when I start to succeed, everything turns to garbage.”

Beliefs about Meaning

Possible belief language: “x” means “y;” “is” (“x” = “y”)

Leadership examples of “meaning beliefs”:

  • “Company growth is stressful.”
  • “Holding people accountable means I will have to deal with conflict.”
  • “Being a leader is hard.”
  • “My boss’ high pitch tone means I’ve done something wrong.”

Beliefs about Identity 

Possible belief language:  “I am …”  or other types of “I” language

Leadership examples of “identity beliefs”:

  • “I don’t deserve to succeed.”
  • “I am a perfectionist.”
  • “I am worthless.”
  • “I will always be this way.”

Identity beliefs are the deepest and hardest to uncover as they are rarely worded as above.   Detecting them requires probing questions and listening to the language and context.  Yet change at the identity level is profound and typically a crucial area in leadership change work.

Let’s look at one quick way to change your limited beliefs into empowering alternatives that move you forward.

Change Your Sabotaging Beliefs.  Unleash Your Leadership Potential.

Achieving a complete leadership breakthrough around beliefs most often requires 1-1 work.  The reason is that each individual stores a belief in their mind with different internal representations – ie., the sounds, feelings and the pictures you associate with that belief.  With each individual, I have to “unpack” the structure of his/her belief below the surface in order to “rewire” a new belief.

With the following technique, however, I can help you loosen the grip that a belief has on you in this moment so you can move into action.  The belief may not be completely gone although this technique will start the change process.

The ultimate goal of any belief change work is to transform the old disempowering belief into a new empowering belief … at the neurological level.  Beliefs are commands to your nervous system and it is on that level that the change needs to occur to be permanent.

Here’s how to shift your sabotaging beliefs in 1 minute or less.

Let’s say that you have the following disempowering leadership belief

“I can’t coach my team because I don’t have the time.” 

The new empowering belief that you want is

“I find the time to coach my team and complete all my other priorities.” 

With your disempowering belief, you have 100% certainty.   In your mind, it is fact.  With your new empowering belief, you have 0% certainty, or 100% uncertainty. In fact, it will seem impossible.

The goal of belief change work is to flip flop those numbers, so your empowering belief has much greater certainty than the disempowering belief.

This technique revolves around the following 5 words in the given sequence.  The words will be bridged together shortly in a couple of sentences to open your mind to new possibilities.

NOTE:  Keep in mind the sentence will confuse your conscious mind … and that is intentional.  New possibilities are being planted as your conscious mind – which resists accepting the new belief — goes into confusion.  Such confusion starts to break down the neurology around the old belief.

    1. “Can’t”

(disempowering belief – certainty)

            2.  “Could”


            3.  “Can”


                        4.  “Maybe”


                 5.  “Won’t” or “Will” or “Want”

                                          (empowering belief – new certainty)


These 5 words are essentially moving you from certainty that “you can’t do something” to different degrees of uncertainty about your new belief, then back to certainty but this time with your new belief.  This process is based on Rob Ballantine’s principle of certainty.

For our example disempowering and the new empowering belief, here’s one way to bridge the words to create a shift.

Possible Belief Change Verbiage:

“I know you can’t find the time to coach your team (plug in your disempowering belief) yet.  If you could, how can you think about this so you may be able to do this in the future.  Won’t you begin to wonder how to do this now?”

That’s all there is to it!  Now it’s your turn.

Step 1:  Identify a sabotaging belief (beginning with words “I can’t …)  and the empowering belief you want instead.

Step 2:  Find a partner and say your disempowering belief to that person.

Step 3:  Have your partner say the above belief change verbiage, plugging in your disempowering belief as indicated.  Ideally, your partner’s pace should start slow and then speed up as he/she recites the second sentence.

If you can’t find a partner, you can do this process with yourself.  I suggest going through this 3 step process a few times to deepen your sense of new possibilities.

At the end, notice the difference in your state … the difference in your experience of the old belief … the difference in your openness to a new outcome.

To summarize, start to detect your sabotaging leadership beliefs through your language. Then run one of those limiting leadership beliefs through the 5 word chaining process, as scripted above.

Voila! You are on your way to moving through the big brick wall in your mind … with no effort.   Relish in the new possibilities for yourself with this new technique.  They are endless.


Denise Corcoran – CEO, The Empowered BusinessTM – helps growth-seeking companies develop game-changing leadership teams and organizations that drive and sustain profitable growth by design.   Denise can be reached at or



Denise Corcoran works with CEOs and executive teams seeking rapid growth yet are challenged by the “invisible barriers” that keep them stuck, overwhelmed or in crisis mode. Her company —The Empowered Business — is one of the few companies providing whole brain, strategic solutions for unleashing leadership and organizational potential. Her secret sauce is assisting CEOs and executive teams develop the “X factor” – i.e., the mindset, attitudes and game-changing thinking -- that drives double and triple digit growth … by design.


Posted by Denise Corcoran on June 6, 2014 in Beliefs, Emotional Mastery, Goal Achievement, Leadership Development, Leadership Performance, Mindset and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

Comments are closed.