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How To Stop Entrenching Yourself in Unhealthy Beliefs

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
December 11, 2010

Sometimes it turns out that your long and firmly held beliefs are wrong. They may have at one time been true. Or maybe what you believe was actually just the result of a lucky exception. Regardless, some beliefs no longer serve you, or your clients, or your company, or anyone else for that matter.

Other people have pointed out to you how these unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs no longer serve you, but you have been defending them for so long and entrenched yourself so deeply that it is difficult to extricate yourself.

When you find yourself deep in a hole, stop digging.

Stop Entrenching

I know a salesperson that is deeply entrenched in defending the indefensible. She has almost all of the attributes she needs to succeed, but she holds onto old, unhealthy beliefs like there is no tomorrow. Much of what she believes no longer serves her well (if it ever did). But she has defended her beliefs so vociferously, with so much vigor, and sometimes with so much vitriol, that she is deeply entrenched.

One of the primary challenges she faces is her unwillingness to simply stop defending her old beliefs, to stop entrenching herself any deeper. To stop defending her beliefs would require, in her mind, that she lose face and admit she was wrong. Where she is wrong is in her belief that she would lose face by continuing to defend what is indefensible. The opposite is true; would she stop with the entrenching, her stature would only grow (along with her results).

If you are to stop entrenching yourself, the first thing you must learn to do is to stop defending beliefs that no longer serve you. Even if you have for years defended them, just stop. When someone points out how the results you are getting are based on poor actions as a result of poor beliefs, sit quietly and listen.

Open Your Eyes

Once you are brave enough to allow your beliefs to be challenged without feeling that you must defend them, you can make some serious progress in becoming un-entrenched.

Look at what you believe. Look at the results those beliefs are producing. If your results aren’t what they need to be, open your eyes to the possibility that there may be other beliefs that you can try on that might suit you better—and produce greater results.

If you are brave enough to look at the evidence that is your results, to listen to the opinion of those you trust, opening your eyes and opening your mind can help you to un-entrench.

Accept That You Have Been Wrong

There is an idea in business called sunk costs. That is when you have spent so much pursuing something that you feel that you can’t afford to let it fail. Failing means you’ll never recover all that you have spent. So you throw good money after bad, only increasing the costs when you should be abandoning the project altogether.

Defending the poor beliefs that lead to poor results is no different; you continue to invest your emotional energy, and you spend the all of the goodwill that you have built up in some of your relationships defending, and defending, and defending.

It’s easier to just accept that you have been wrong. This is a tough one for a lot of people. Perhaps some of us have an easier time accepting and admitting we were wrong because we get so much practice. There is really nothing easier and not many things that do more to extricate you from poor beliefs and the poor actions and results that come from them.

You say: “Look, I have been defending this idea for a long time, and I got so deeply entrenched in defending it that I couldn’t stop. I was wrong.”

Like magic, the dark clouds will part, and a ray of sunshine will come down from the heavens and shine upon you. Accepting the fact that you were wrong, and simply saying so absolves you of any further responsibility to defend the belief or to remain deep in the hole that you have dug for yourself by fighting for it.


What are the beliefs that you strongly defend only because you have defended them for so long that you have become entrenched?

What is the cost in defending these beliefs—and continuing to act on them—in the way of poorer sales results and poorer relationships?

What are the sunk costs? How much have you invested in defending your beliefs even though they no longer serve you? How much more are you willing to spend defending these beliefs?

Why is it so hard for some people to simply admit that were wrong? (If you don’t have this problem yourself, then I am sorry I brought it up; I was clearly wrong!)

How much faster could you generate better results if you were willing to try on a set of better beliefs? What would you risk by abandoning your long and firmly held-but unhealthy—beliefs? Who would you have to be to do so?

Why do we admire people who admit that they were wrong and change their beliefs to ones that allow them to grow?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).

Read my monthly post on Sales Bloggers Union.

Mindset 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 11, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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