Behavior lies on a sea of beliefs

Several years ago, I stood on the corner of a busy street in downtown Cairo preparing to cross.

As I gauged the oncoming traffic, a steady stream of cars and mototaxis and the occasional horse and cart, an elderly gentlemen stepped up beside me.

He offered to help me cross the chaos functioning entirely on a social contract of pass and let pass, neither a stop sign nor stoplight in sight. He offered his arm and plunged us off the curb, his companion a reluctant woman feeling much like Simba facing the stampede.

When we reached the other side (spoiler: we reached it), he offered me his secret to crossing Egyptian traffic. It consisted of 3 simple steps:

1) close your eyes
2) walk fast, and
3) InshAllah you will make it

He wished me well and was on his way, and I never saw him again.

Some 5 years later, I still remember our conversation. There was a before/after meeting him.

When faced with adversity, begin with the end in mind. “InshAllah I will make it.” It is already done. All that’s left is to step off the curb and keep walking.

If I believe this, behavior will follow and I will cross the street. If I vacillate, then I remain on the curb and failure is guaranteed. Outcome is based on behavior, behavior is driven by belief.

Believing in success is the foundation for it to become true. External success is a lag indicator of behaviors driven by belief.

This was true when I chose to move to Beijing for my Master’s, when I traveled to Cambodia for my yoga teacher certification, when I moved to South Africa and then Egypt to work with refugees, and then again when I began coaching and launched my practice in the middle of a global pandemic/lockdown.

I believed in my own success before I began, and then I stepped off the curb and got to work.

Every day we encounter moments like these, moments that have the potential to pivot our lives or the lives of those we encounter. If there is a before/after reading this email, what comes next for you?

What will you choose to believe about:

  • the rest of this week?
  • the rest of this year?
  • the year ahead?

Here’s to stepping off the curb.