Why being successful is a lot like building a house...

Mary was at her wits’ end.

She sold insurance for a living, and a big part of her job was connecting with prospects and clients over the phone.

Mary desperately needed to sell her products and services to make ends meet. 

But she wasn’t selling. She felt very uncomfortable reaching out to new prospects.

Most gurus would tell Mary she needs to “suck it up”, pick up the phone and call people.

As you’ll see in a second, that’s not good advice... 

Mary came to us asking for help with this problem. 

As we talked, we realized there were two key things she needed to transform. 

They’re the same two things that hold most people back--their beliefs and habits.

Your beliefs and habits are the two most important factors in your success.

With the right beliefs and habits in place, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

Key Takeaway

Your beliefs and habits are the two most important factors in your success.

On the other hand… If you have a negative belief or habit that trips you up, it can cause massive problems in your life.

In this blog post, we’re going to break down these two crucial “drivers” of success using a simple metaphor.

We call it the “House Metaphor of Success.”

Introducing the House Metaphor of Success

Being successful is like building a house.

If you want a house that will remain standing forever, you have to start by building two essential things.

First, you need to create a rock-solid foundation. Then, you create the internal support structure (framing, support beams, etc). 

Once these two pieces are finished, you can fill in the rest of the house. 

Without the foundation and the internal structure, you don’t have a house. And if you’ve got problems with either part, your house could come crashing down.

In our metaphor, your “subconscious beliefs” are like the foundation of your success. And the support structure of your house is made up of your habits.

Here’s another reason we like this metaphor…

Once a house is built, you don’t see the foundation and support structure. They’re hidden from view. But they’re still there, holding up the entire house!

Likewise, we often aren’t aware of our beliefs and our habits. 

Most of them are stored in what we call the “Emotional Brain”... below the surface of our conscious awareness.

In other words, we don’t see them everyday.  But they’re still the forces that drive your behavior… and ultimately determine your success!

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Your beliefs and habits are crucial for success

Your beliefs and habits are crucial for success because they impact so many areas of your life.

When you change them, it creates a ripple effect that can influence almost every area of your life.

If changing your beliefs and habits sounds too overwhelming, have no fear! 

You don’t need to change all your beliefs and habits at once. 

We’ve seen many people create a new emotional reality by changing a single negative belief.

Likewise, transforming just one small habit can have a chain reaction of positivity in your life.*

*NOTE: This is especially true if you’re focused on what Charles Duhigg calls “keystone habits”. (And what we call “Pillar Rituals”.)

Okay, now that we have the big picture clear, let’s take a closer look at your “foundation of success”... Your subconscious “implicit beliefs”.

Your hidden “implicit beliefs” control your life

Psychologists have documented two different types of beliefs... Explicit and Implicit.

Your “explicit beliefs” are at a conscious level. You form them deliberately and you can talk about them easily.

Researchers can measure your explicit beliefs by asking simple questions in a survey.

For example, what’s something you believe is true...?

  • “Hard work is a virtue…”
  • “I believe you should treat people fairly…”
  • “I am a Republican/Democrat.”

These are all examples of explicit beliefs. They’re easy to remember and identify.

On the other hand, your “implicit beliefs” are much harder to identify.

They tend to get created unconsciously and involuntarily

You don’t sit down and decide what your implicit beliefs are going to be. Most of them get formed automatically from life experiences.

The way children learn their native language while growing up is an example of implicit learning.

You don’t need to sit them down in “English class” and teach them all the rules of how to speak.

Their brains just naturally soak up the language they hear around them. 

They also develop an internal awareness of grammar rules for speaking “correctly”... without ever being explicitly taught those rules.

Implicit beliefs get formed in the same way… they’re formed unconsciously as you learn from life experience. 

Because implicit beliefs are subconscious, they’re also a lot harder to measure.

You can’t just ask somebody what their implicit beliefs are about any given subject… because they probably won’t know how to answer!

Researchers have had to develop clever tests to measure implicit beliefs.* 

Here’s a simple way to think about the difference between explicit and implicit beliefs…

Explicit beliefs are how you WANT to feel.

Implicit beliefs are how you REALLY feel.

Key Takeaway

Explicit beliefs are how you WANT to feel.

Implicit beliefs are how you REALLY feel.

*If you’re curious to learn more about implicit beliefs, check out this Harvard University test on implicit bias.

How an implicit belief controlled a night at the bar

Here’s a story that demonstrates the power implicit beliefs can have over your life…

Let’s say you grew up on a farm in Texas. 

Every day, you interacted with cowboys and ranch hands. And you had a bunch of positive experiences with them. 

Because of these childhood memories, you might have formed an implicit belief: 

“People who wear cowboy hats and boots are great people.”

Imagine that years later you’re at your favorite college bar. You see a man in his mid-twenties wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. 

You unconsciously feel drawn to this guy. You like him, even if you can’t explain why.

Subconsciously, he reminds you of the ranch hands on your father’s ranch. So you approach him and strike up a conversation.

Now here’s a different scenario…

Let’s say you got beat up when you were young by someone wearing a cowboy hat and boots. 

Years later, you are out with your friends at a bar. And you see a guy in cowboy gear across the bar. 

All of a sudden, you start to feel very uncomfortable and find it hard to participate in the conversation.

Seeing the cowboy gear triggers a deep subconscious belief: 

“People in cowboy outfits are dangerous.” 

Your unease gets stronger and stronger. You withdraw so much from the conversation that a couple of your friends ask you what’s wrong.

You have no idea what’s wrong. But you know you’ve got to get out of that bar. 

So you make up an excuse about having a headache and leave quickly.

Implicit beliefs were in control in both these scenarios. 

They were controlling your reaction to “Cowboy Joe” without you being fully aware of why.

Here’s what this story shows…

Your behavior is controlled in a big way by these subconscious beliefs. 

In fact, we now know that implicit beliefs are far more important for success than explicit beliefs.

Key Takeaway

Implicit beliefs are far more important for success than explicit beliefs.

This is great news if all your implicit beliefs are positive! 

However, that’s rarely the case. Most people have a mix of positive and negative implicit beliefs. 

If you have a negative implicit belief that’s tripping you up…

It’s like having a broken foundation on your house. If the cracks are big enough, the whole house can come crashing down.

Here’s how you know you have a problem with your implicit beliefs:

In our work with entrepreneurs, here are a few of the issues we’ve seen caused by negative “implicit” beliefs.

People with negative beliefs might...

  • Lack confidence in themselves
  • Struggle with making sales
  • Lack assertiveness
  • Struggle with chronic worry or anxiety
  • Avoid doing certain important tasks in their business
  • Think too small
  • Feel like they don’t deserve success
  • Commit acts of self-sabotage
  • Judge themselves harshly

If you suspect you might have a negative holding you back, there’s good news. 

You don’t have to live with it forever. In fact, you can change it rapidly once you know the steps

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Ok, let’s go back to our house metaphor and look at the second driver of success...

Your habits are the hidden “support structure” of the house:

After you’ve finished pouring the foundation, the next step is to create the internal structure of the house.

This support structure includes things like the framing, support beams, pillars, load-bearing walls, etc.

Just like the foundation, this support structure is essential. Without it, you don’t have a house! 

In our metaphor, the framing and support structure is your habits.

Your habits are a crucial factor in being successful long-term.

Many psychologists estimate that between 40-90% of our behavior is habitual. (This depends on how habits are defined and measured.)

That means we’re running on autopilot most of the time. Or we’re reacting to the world in habitual, predictable ways.

Just like your beliefs, your habits are a huge factor in success! 

For example, do you start your mornings by deliberately doing something positive and productive?

Or do you start out your day like most people… checking email, social media, or the news?

Making simple changes to the way you start your mornings can mean a huge difference in your output over time. 

Just like with implicit beliefs, there are some strategies you can use to change habits quickly (and get them to stick long-term).

We’ve covered habits and how to create new “success rituals” in depth here.

Focus on transforming your beliefs first, then creating the consistent habits for success

Here’s another reason we like using this metaphor…

It explains the correct order you need to prioritize making change!

Unfortunately, most people focus on what paint color they want on their walls… When they have issues with their foundation!

Likewise, most other experts out there tell you to create consistent actions (habits) first.

But that advice is incomplete at best…

That’s like saying you should build the framing BEFORE you pour the foundation on a house!

Here’s the thing these experts don’t acknowledge…

Action that’s built on a shaky foundation of belief will be VERY difficult to sustain.

If you have subconscious beliefs that are tripping you up, or holding you back in some way…

You need to transform those beliefs first BEFORE you try to create a new habit! 

Key Takeaway

If you have subconscious beliefs that are tripping you up or holding you back in some way…

You need to transform those beliefs first BEFORE you try to create a new habit!

If you don’t, your chances of sticking with the action long-term aren’t very good.

That’s because the negative belief will get triggered over and over again in your Emotional Brain.

And you’ll have to fight yourself and push through the discomfort every time.

You can use willpower to try to override a negative belief once or twice. But it’s a very stressful way of living.

And it greatly decreases your chance of sticking with the new habit.

How Mary learned to love selling

Let’s go back to Mary’s struggle with selling to illustrate this principle in action.

As we mentioned, Mary’s main source of income was created by selling over the phone. 

But she would find any possible excuse to avoid calling on prospects. 

We discovered the root of the problem pretty quickly. Mary had some subconscious beliefs holding her back.

Here were a couple of them:

“I don’t know enough to call. I have to be perfect and know every possible answer to their questions.”

“I might screw up this opportunity and lose the client forever. Or worse, I might ruin my reputation.”

Again, most other coaches would have told her to “suck it up” and push through the discomfort.

But that’s not our style. So we led her through a process of transforming her beliefs

One by one, we brought up the negative beliefs holding her back… and one by one we changed them to positive beliefs. 

By the end of the session, she exclaimed, “I’m so excited now I want to call them right away.”

Once her negative beliefs were cleared, we used our PEAK Method to help her create a new habit around selling.

The result: She now has a new habit of making sales calls from 9:30am-10:30am every morning.

Since we first took the time to get rid of all her resistance and fear about selling… it was easy to get the habit to stick. 

This simple practice of calling on new prospects every morning has catapulted her income to new levels.

Recapping the House Metaphor of Success

This story illustrates a key reason why most efforts to make change fail. 

Most people try to change behavior without doing anything about their negative beliefs.

When you have the right beliefs in place, making changes to your behavior becomes a lot easier.

Just remember: Being successful long-term is a lot like building a house.

If you have cracks in your foundation, or if the framing on your house isn’t done right… your chances of being successful aren’t great. 

Make sure your “house of success” is built on a strong foundation of beliefs, and a rock-solid support structure of habits.

With these two key factors in place, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

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