For the past two weeks we’ve discussed our belief systems, their origins, and the role they play on our personal and professional lives. To continue that theme, I’d like to offer some thoughts on the power of our beliefs.

Our beliefs are the compass and the maps that guide us toward our goals. This article will discuss how we can use them more effectively.

Do you realize how important your beliefs are? There is no more powerful directing force in human behavior than belief. The people who have changed history: Columbus, Einstein, Edison, Christ, Mohammed-and others like them-have been the people who have changed our beliefs. In many ways, the power that beliefs have over our lives defies the logical models most of us have. It is clear that powerful beliefs, however, can affect us in equally powerful ways.

With the Olympics just over, I am reminded of the four-minute mile barrier. For years, people believed that it was impossible for a human to run a mile in less than four minutes. World-class runners and countless attempts had been unsuccessful until Roger Bannister, in 1954, proved it wrong. Within one year, no less than 37 runners had broken that belief barrier. In the second year, another 300 runners had accomplished the same thing!

Studies conducted by Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard educated physician, have shown that the experiences of drug users correspond almost exactly to their expectations. People who were given sedatives, but were told that they were stimulants, behaved as if stimulated. People who were given stimulants, but were told that they were sedatives, behaved as if sedated.

Belief in a thing-regardless of what it may be-is an essential and necessary ingredient in bringing that what you desire into your life experience. Beliefs are powerful creatures. Even without necessarily being conscious of them, they tend to govern what we do, what we aim for, and how we feel about ourselves and our possibilities.

Beliefs are neither right nor wrong. They are either empowering or limiting. The power of a belief can work either way. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Regardless of what you may believe in, whether it be that you can or can’t accomplish something, the outcome is always, 100% of the time, experienced on the quality of the belief that you hold regarding its outcome.

To change a particular belief, as in the four-minute mile barrier, we just need to change a behavior pattern. Change those patterns and a new belief is automatically created.

This is no other more powerful directing force in human behavior than belief. Our beliefs have the power to create and to destroy. As Weil discovered, our belief delivers a direct command to our nervous system so the outcome has a direct relationship to our thoughts and beliefs.

So ask yourself, "What do I choose to believe? Do I choose beliefs that limit or empower me? Do my beliefs turn on or shut off possibilities? Do they move me toward failure or success?"

Begin right now to put the power of your beliefs to work for you, not against you, in a focused conscious manner and be assured that your life will begin to produce events, conditions and circumstances that were at one point only a distant dream.