Belief as a Motivational Force

Maybe I’m dating myself, but my wife, Irene, and I enjoy listening to songs sung by Kenny Rogers. One song he wrote is simply called “She Believes in Me”. Part of the chorus says, “And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me”…and further along “But she has faith in me, And so I go on trying faithfully.”

If you know the song at all, maybe like me, you find it quite moving. Naturally, it has personal meaning between my wife and I. For me, this emotional song also conjures up recollections of other people at various times in my life who have elevated and led me to new heights.

Belief as a Motivational Force

How does this song and the few wonderful people I remember connect with motivational leadership? As the lyrics remind, they all believed in me. I realized these key people in my life made me stretch by first believing in me.

On a recent car drive Irene and I reminisced on teachers we remembered – good and bad – and their impact on our lives. For all the regular family dynamics and self-imposed and self-limiting thoughts that plagued me, I initially had a low self-esteem at elementary school which was never labeled but still blocked my progression in life.

The headmaster at my British elementary school was Mr. Browning. He had lost the lower part of his left arm possibly in World War II. He maintained a firm respect through adherence to rules and kept discipline by discussions, detentions and “the look”. He was never feared but always respected.

Our art teacher was away or sick for a time and Mr. Browning became the regular substitute teacher. I recall clearly feeling his presence as he stopped to look at my plaster of Paris sculptures and made comments, or when he gave subtle suggestions on water paintings I was working on.

Then came the announcement of an art competition.

I liked the self-expression of art but never thought I was a good artist. I was not planning on entering the art competition. Mr. Browning came by my desk during a subsequent class and put his strong, remaining hand on my shoulder and said, “I think you should enter the art competition. You are a good artist.”

He believed in me.

Motivational leaders can quickly discern innate abilities and the potential of those around them.

I’ll never know what he saw in me. But he had faith in me and so I went on painting faithfully. I did not win the competition but I entered and I will never forget his empowering, and motivational words.

Belief Still Works

Scroll forward a few decades.

I founded my own company as the Recognition Management Institute. As sole proprietor, I keynoted, trained, consulted, did marketing, accounting, and all round chief bottle washer too. I am good at my expertise of helping people get recognition right but I won’t pretend being the best marketer.

After 7 years and following the experience of 9/11, my business collapsed because of my poor marketing abilities.

A few years later, an executive director from a company in Montreal, reached out to me about potentially working together having learned about me as subscribers to my newsletter.

Next thing I knew I was talking with, Peter Hart, CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions. He listened to my story and said, “I think we should have you come up to Montreal for a visit.” I was given a tour of the company and learned all that they do. Then I was taken out to an Italian restaurant for supper. Here is where I was grilled with questions by company leaders around the table about my expertise, education, my reputation, clients, knowledge, abilities, you name it.

By the end of the evening and meal, I had been as candid and transparent as I could ever be about myself and what I do best. Then Peter called me aside and said some words I will never forget. “I love your passion. I want you on board.” I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

He believed in me.

Motivational leaders provide ongoing, reaffirming statements of believing in people.

I don’t know exactly what he saw in me. But he had faith in me. I soon joined the Rideau family, faithfully bringing insights and inspiration to the field of employee recognition.

Belief Expressed is Motivation Enough

Sure, there are other stories I could bore you with that have similar turning points. However, from these two accounts alone I want to highlight what every motivational leadership encounter has in common.

1. Uncanny Vision

Like my headmaster and CEO, good motivational leaders can quickly discern innate abilities and the potential of those around them.

2. Experimental Risk

They’re prepared and willing to take a chance on a person for the individual’s own growth and development knowing full well that if successful they will also benefit.

3. First-Person Boldness

These leaders make bold personal, first-person declarations like “I think…”, “I love…” that rivet people to the core by affirming their own personal belief in an individual.

Never underestimate the motivational power of belief.

4. Set Expectations

Not shared in my two encounters but written between the lines were requests for action to submit artwork and return and present which believing leaders firmly adhere to.

5. Continued Reaffirmations

While I remember these specific belief encounters as if they were yesterday, all good motivational leaders provide ongoing, reaffirming statements of believing in people.

Never underestimate the motivational power of belief.

What will you do today to ensure someone knows you believe in them so they can continue “to go on trying faithfully”?


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Image credit: amitofo / 123RF Stock Photo

Roy Saunderson has spent most of his career showing people how to give others “real recognition”. He really is the Get Recognition Right® Guy. He is an author, consultant and speaker to organizations around the world from North America, Europe, Middle East and India. He serves as the Chief Learning Officer of Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute and has personally worked with Boeing, Credit Suisse, Disney, Intel, Johnson and Johnson, and the Canadian Federal Government leaders in getting recognition right. And the best recognition for Roy to get right is being a happy family man and being married to his lovely wife, Irene, for over 35 years and enjoying their five children and 11 grandchildren.

  • Margy

    Love this, Roy. Someone’s belief in us can give us a real boost in confidence and can lead to a memorable moment. I love how those memories of someone’s belief in you last a lifetime.

  • DR

    For me, the first one was my dad. Daddy told complete strangers, “Don’t tell her she can’t do something or she will prove you wrong!? He believed in me!!
    There were also many educators who believed in me and inspired me to BE BETTER.

  • Michele McHall

    Yes, yes, yes in a time when selfies are the rage, turning the focus to recognize another and have genuine faith in their abilities is what grows the powers of connection and innovation. Thanks for sharing your story Roy.

  • lifeisntbroken

    Great article. You had me at Kenny Rogers! Love that song.

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