Sunday, December 02, 2007

Curious about Conviction: What Do You Stand For? How Strong Is Your Conviction?

A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” - Mohandas Gandhi, Indian leader

It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” - Muhammad Ali, American athlete

I embrace Gandhi’s quotation. But, it isn’t always easy to stand for what we believe. So often the areas where we have our deepest convictions are politics and religion – the two topics we are warned to avoid in conversation.

I submit to you, however, that we all have deep convictions in other areas that we also avoid discussing. For example, I feel strongly that we should love and be passionate about the careers we choose to pursue. Because I stand for having more than one career (my “Portfolio Career”), I get a great deal of flack for not focusing on one.

I also have a strong conviction for being disciplined about fitness and health. It is not always easy to maintain a healthy diet combined with regular exercise. And yet, when we believe deeply with conviction, we can do it.

So, what do you stand for? Even if you are not one to share this with others, I do urge you to make a list of the deep convictions you hold and how you feel about them. These will solidify your values and lay the foundation for your vision and mission statement.

Let’s turn to the experts:
  • Words should be employed as the means, not the end; language is the instrument, conviction is the work.” - Joshua Reynolds, English artist
  • The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.” - Robert E. Lee, American soldier
  • We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, American President
  • Conviction without experience makes for harshness.” - Flannery O'Connor, American author
  • You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.” - Denis Waitley, American writer

And, a few more with different approaches:

  • "A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” - Ralph Nader, American lawyer
  • It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.” - John Steinbeck, American author
  • The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.” - John W. Gardner, American educator
  • If you don't love what you do, you won't do it with much conviction or passion.” - Mia Hamm, American athlete
  • When you take a stand out of deep conviction, people know. They may not even agree, but they ask, 'Do I want someone who is willing to take a hard stand and someone I can trust to do that when the chips are down?' They want that.” - Barbara Boxer, American politician

Here are two more that speak to me and that you can turn to during the upcoming week:

What convinces is conviction. Believe in the argument you're advancing. If you don't you're as good as dead. The other person will sense that something isn't there, and no chain of reasoning, no matter how logical or elegant or brilliant, will win your case for you.” - Lyndon B. Johnson, American President

I have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment.” - Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

I ask you again, what do you stand for? What strong convictions are you keeping from yourself and others? Have a great and productive week.