The Thoughts You Have
It is often said that if you talk to yourself you are crazy, the reality is that you would be crazy not to talk to yourself more. The conversation we have between our ears determines the quality of our world and has a bigger impact on our ability to be successful than any other factor. Having spent the last 13 years working with high performers in the area of sport and business. The difference between people who achieve success and those that are left behind is what they do with the small area of real estate between their ears.
The thoughts we have triggers us to feel different emotions, which ultimately determine how we act. For example when many people go on a health kick they set a goal to wake up early and exercise in the morning. However most people don't achieve this and they stay in bed, here's why! As soon as the alarm goes off they have the following thoughts "Oh no not today, its cold outside, I will definitely go tomorrow, is that rain I can hear, I have had a hard week I deserve a rest, putting it off a day wont hurt me". These thoughts evoke the emotions of apathy, sadness and fatigue, which causes them to stay in bed. Compare this to someone that gets out of bed, their thought pattern is more like this. "Its hard to get out of bed at first but I always feel better once I am up, Last time I exercised I felt really good and had more energy during the day, exercise is really good for my health and wellbeing, I am looking forward to catching up with my friends at the gym". This type of thinking leads to the emotion of excitement, arousal and happiness, which helps them get out of bed. The inner conversation is key.
When an event occurs in our life our mind tries to explain it on three levels
1. Do I have control or is it out of my control (influence or no influence)
2. Does it have a lasting effect on my life or a temporary effect (today or everyday)
3. Does it affect one area of my life or all areas (one thing or everything)
Successful people explain events to themselves on these three levels very differently to people who are unsuccessful.
I once noticed that Alexander Popov had a bad training session leading up to a big swim meet. When he got out of the pool and debriefed the session with his coach. I noticed that he said:
1. I think my focus was a bit off, tomorrow I will really work on my focus and also I will rest better tonight that should do the trick (control). 2. It was just one bad day, I am swimming really well at the moment, I will be much better tomorrow (today).
3. My preperation has been spot on and I feel really prepared and I am really happy and excited about this competition (one thing). In comparison I noticed that other swimmers in the squad who were good swimmers but not at an elite level, would say the opposite about a bad training session.
1. I don't know what is wrong, no matter what I do I don't seem to be able to get it right, I just seem to not have any luck at the moment (no control)
2. All my training sessions are just hopeless at the moment; I haven't trained well for months (every day)
3. Everything seems really hard at the moment, life outside the pool isn't going well either (everything).
I have noticed the same thing in the business world. I recently spoke at a conference for people in the financial planning and superannuation business, days after the share market had taken a massive hit and everyone in the room had lost a lot of money.
One of the delegates came up to me and explained his situation in the following way:
1. My business in now in real trouble. I will get a massive reduction in my profit and it is just because of the market there is nothing I can do about it (no control).
2. The next 12 months are going to kill my business, for everyone in this industry we are all going to suffer for a long period of time, there is no end in sight (every day).
3. Life in general is really hard, this will affect all areas of my life (everything).
I later found out that he was one of the least successful people in the industry. I spoke to another delegate who had a very different view.
1. This is not bad news, this is an exciting time, it is an opportunity for the real performers in the industry to separate themselves from the average performers. Sure there are challenges with the market, but there are still great opportunities out there. (control)
2. This wont last forever the market always bounces back (today).
3. Also we have to remember that this is just business, the sky is not falling in and business is just a part of my life not my whole life (one thing) its not a surprise to learn that her business was one to the most successful in Australia.
So often the voices in our head go uncontrolled. Random thoughts fill our head cause negative emotions and the result is poor performance. Start to be more careful about what you say to yourself in a day, your life counts on it.