At Coltivar Group, we are big on convictions—not criminal convictions, but the personal kind. What are convictions? How do they differ from beliefs?
Merriam-Webster defines conviction as
- A strong persuasion, belief, or opinion
- The feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true
- The state of being convinced1
The word belief is defined quite similarly:
- A feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true
- Conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence2
However, in popular use, a conviction is generally regarded as being a degree beyond a belief. For example, in religious circles, you might hear the question, “Are you convicted?” Most people who attend a house of worship regularly claim to believe, but being convicted implies a more serious tone. The unspoken follow-up question is, “What are you going to do about it?”
You may ask: Why is it so important to split hairs? Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?
We all have beliefs. For example, you may believe that the world is going to end next year. Not being able to do much about it, you carry on with your regular routine. If you are convicted that the world is going to end next year, though, you will probably try to keep it from happening, or at least prepare for the worst. You may pursue a career in which you track asteroid activity, or you may build a bunker and stock it with supplies.
As Thomas Carlyle said, “Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.”
A belief is merely a thought. We can sit on our butts and play video games while believing in many things. A conviction usually compels someone to take action on that belief. This is why it is important to have strong convictions about life. They help us to map out a life plan.
In the business world, having convictions should be what motivates us to go into business in the first place. When company executives struggle to put their mission into words, this is a red flag. The mission should have been in place from the very beginning, even if it was unwritten and perhaps unspoken. You cannot manufacture a mission statement out of thin air to make your company look good. Putting such a statement into words is meaningless.
Convictions are what keep us motivated when times are tough. For example, if you are in the landscaping business, you hopefully feel called to make the world a more beautiful place for people and animals, and to benefit the environment through your services. If you are a landscape professional because you inherited a business from your relatives or because you fell into it, you more than likely have felt the sting of frustration quite a few times during your career.
Take the time to sit down and examine what your convictions are and how they relate to your business. If you do not feel any particularly strong connection to what you actually do or sell, maybe this is a wake-up call. If you can verbalize your convictions, consider how you can convey your feelings with the entire company so that everyone can share in your vision.