What We See & What We Believe

Once, on an unconventionally lush piece of land in Virginia, I heard a farmer say something seminal. 

You know the expression, "I'll believe it when I see it"? he asked a group of us who had come to hear how his farm was so verdant. 

Yes, we nodded. We knew it. Probably many of us accepted it as fact. 

I think the opposite is true, the farmer said. I think it's, "I'll see it when I believe it." 

I walked away from his farm, gloriously rattled by the power of that sentiment. 

If we believe we can start a business, there's a good chance we'll start to see opportunities to make it so. Sitting next to a woman at dinner who knows a ton about business plans, noticing a workshop for first-time entrepreneurs, an out-of-the-blue email from a friend looking to do web development for small businesses. 

But if we don't believe we can start a business, none of that stuff will appear to us as opportunities. The woman at dinner is nothing more than interesting, the workshop isn't for us, we tell the friend we'll let her know if we think of any good clients, and wish her good luck. 

If we believe the day is full of possibility, possibility is what we'll see. If we believe the day is full of bad news, bad news is what we'll see.

This is not a prescription for rose-colored glasses. This is risking believing in something beyond what we can see and touch in the here and now. 

When we believe in the potential for something, our eyes open differently. We take in and make meaning of the world in a generous and imaginative way. Where many see nothing, we see something. Which could become something wonderful. 

Since, as that farmer on his lush land showed, it is less what we see that shapes what we believe. And more what we believe that shapes what we see. 

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