Why Fearless Leaders Have Faith (And You Should, Too)

The most beautiful thing about having someone show faith in you is that it becomes a chain reaction.


Most leaders like known facts, and they ask questions to find them. How much coffee do I have left? What's the price of supply X? It makes sense to treat data like it's our friend in this way, given that controlling information usually means we can better plan and manage risk.

But if I've learned anything as a leader, it's that much of business requires plain old faith, no matter what form it might come in. In fact, I'd argue that just about every innovator has built their career on faith, trusting that the new path they were forging would work. More than one fearless leader has looked at some discouraging numbers and pressed on because of a feeling deep in their gut, even with "horrible" odds or adversities. This is how they eventually found great success.

Faith in Action

Fearless leaders don't just direct their faith at concepts. They extend it to people and teams, too. They get up in front of the room and inspire others by saying what everyone can do rather than homing in on problems. They look for the best in those around them and point those things out so the whole atmosphere stays positive.

Here's an example from my own life. Back when I was still getting started in my career, I worked for Electronic Data Systems, which at the time was a Fortune 100 company and technology leader. One day, I got an early-morning call from the office. They wanted me to meet with my boss's boss.

So into the office I went. Fortunately, the big boss had good news — he wanted to offer me an extremely generous promotion. And, honestly, I was shocked.

Now, I wasn't exactly suffering from imposter syndrome. I enjoyed decent confidence. But my faith in myself still wasn't perfect. And at that moment, for some unknown reason, it wavered. Surely, I thought, there were more qualified people available for the job. Maybe the company hadn't considered something or was making a mistake. Even as I told the big boss thank you, and even though I knew in my head that I should jump at the opportunity, I asked him if I could think the offer over.

Yes, I really did that.

He didn't beat around the bush with his answer. Did other people have more experience? Yes. But did people believe in me? Did I have the power to instill confidence in others? Yes, and yes again. And there was no one else, the big boss said, that he had more faith in to get the work done.

He sent me away with instructions to make him look good — and I was on cloud nine.

What Faith in Others Can Do

Having someone — especially someone who's not a family member or close friend — express faith in you the way my big boss did in me does amazing things. It opens your eyes to the true potential you have rather than the distorted potential you've seen through your own biases. And once you get that clearer picture of what you can do, it can change your life.

The most beautiful thing about having someone show faith in you is that it becomes a chain reaction. Because they see the best in you and help you grow, you start looking at others in faith, too. You tell them they can. And this faith chain keeps going, on and on.

So, if you're not already doing it, give those around you the benefit of the doubt a little more. Focus on the good stuff, because as the old saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it. If you expect good things, then people will deliver. Seize every opportunity to tell others you believe in them. The benefits are exponential, and you never know what your faith will empower them to do, or how it will change their life.

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