Beliefs Affect Results

No matter how tough an economic environment, look around and you will see people who thrive. They innovate, create and persist in achieving their goals.

So what is the critical difference? What predicts success? Beliefs!

Beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies. Our experience of life is literally created by our assumptions about the nature of reality. In technical terms, we delete and distort sensory cues for evidence of what we believe to be true. We create ‘proof’ that reality operates the way we think it does. Beliefs are the filtering processes that cause some people to miss the opportunities others see.

Do your beliefs support success or are they holding you back? Monitor your self-talk. When you think about goals or mentally rehearse conversations with others, are the words positive and encouraging, or critical – of you, the situation or others?

Here’s a quick way to test this out. Pick someone you are having a conflict with. For the next week, whenever you think about this person, make a point of switching your internal dialogue. Imagine this person giving you positive feedback and hear yourself appreciating them in return. Use this before sensitive meetings. We call it ‘acting as if’ and the results can be amazing.

For beliefs about self-concept and beliefs limiting your performance Innergize offers the Breakthrough Coaching process.

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Making 2010 your best year yet

There is still time.  So what has to happen?  The last post focused on recognizing  hidden opportunities. This one follows up with a thought provoking question.  Questions can be a powerful tool for activating your internal GPS, your Global Positioning System for achieving success.

  • The first question sets your destination. 
  • The rest lock-in the most direct path, providing detailed directions,
  • and just like using the GPS in your vehicle, questions provide ongoing feedback, a way of checking and adjusting your course from time to time.

So the question is …
What has to happen for 2010 to be your best year yet?

When was the last time you asked yourself a question like that and then thought deeply about your answer?

We may set goals, measure certain activities, even block time for specific tasks. Yet few of us take the time for deep thought about what it will take to get there. (Deep thought is the hallmark of experts.)

If you can, take a minute now and think about how you would answer the question. What comes to mind?  Write your answer down. Seeing it on paper is often an easier way of discovering the deeper meaning behind your words.

  • Is what has to happen something you’ll do, an activity or behaviour?
  • Is it a feeling or quality, like having more confidence, more energy or less stress?
  • Is there a hidden belief in what you wrote? About yourself, the people in your life or your business environment?
  • Is what has to happen within your own control? Something you can ‘do, or not do’ as Yoda would say.
  • If not, can you break it into smaller bites or contributing elements that you can control.
  • When and where will this be happening? How often? Is it something you’ll do every day? Once or twice a week? Monthly?

When you think about it logically and rationally, you probably already have the knowledge, skills and experience required. You know what to do and how to do it, right? And you may even know people who’ve achieved the results you want with less knowledge, fewer skills?

So … what are your sticking points?
What could possibly prevent you from doing what you know?

  • Distractions, lack of focus?
  • Lack of confidence during critical activities?
  • Competing priorities and time pressures?
  • Feeling overwhelmed?

‘Sticking points’ whatever you call them, drain your energy.

It’s like driving with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake.  It can feel like you’re spinning your wheels, working longer and harder just to stay in place.

So the question is, what can you do starting now, that will begin moving you through those sticking points and towards your best year yet?

You can clear some sticking points using conscious, logical left brain thinking. For more see the note below.1

What about your deeper power?
There is another option, a quicker and some would say easier way of clear sticking points – by harnessing the power of your unconscious mind and right brain processing.

It’s also more fun. Because your unconscious mind is a wizard at handling competing priorities, reducing stress and handling hot button situations that can hijack your emotions and behaviour.

So if the idea of harnessing the power of your own mind sounds interesting, check out the NLP trainers in your area or look for someone offering Performance Breakthrough Coaching process. 

1 Neuroscience has demonstrated that as much as 95% of our decisions, our emotions and what we do, is controlled by the unconscious mind,  that we simply use our conscious mind to justify decisions made outside of conscious awareness.

A thought from that perennial font of wisdom …
“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” Anon

And one more …
“It has taken a long time for us to reach the understanding that much of what we do is not under conscious control, even though we thought that it was.”
Michael Gazzaniga, neuroscientist and author of Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Different

Strategic Intelligence And Visionary Leadership

An overview of Strategic Intelligence
The last post on visionary leadership introduced Michael MacCoby’s Strategic Intelligence and his five core elements: Foresight, Systems Thinking, Visioning, Motivating and Partnering. Here’s a brief overview of the first three.

Foresight
The ability to identify trends and opportunities – the winds of change – based on deep knowledge and intuition.

  • Trusting your unconscious to process and make meaning of the knowledge you’ve built up.
  • And then following through on those instincts. Creating value and capitalizing on ‘what doesn’t exist now, but will in the future.’

For example:

  • Henry Ford took the idea of a car – initially perceived as a toy for the rich – and saw the potential for universal ownership. If he could bring the price within reach of the average consumer. He realized his vision by using mass production to achieve an affordable price.

Foresight is having the ability to see ‘down the road and round the corner’ over time. And most visionary leaders have this critical element – it’s often why we call them visionary.

Who had the foresight here?
Did you know that audio cassette technology was developed by engineers at Philips Electronics? Or so the story goes … and for whatever reasons, the company decided the cassette technology wasn’t worth keeping. So they sold it to Sony!

One can only guess why
Perhaps their audio and home entertainment division was focused on high end, quality sound reproduction? Could Philips have passed the technology to another of their own divisions? Did their ‘portable products’ division exist at the time? 

Sony had the foresight in this story. Some would credit the cassette technology and the products developed around it  – from boom box to Walkmans™ – with making Sony a household name. And when you think about foresight, you might wonder if Sony’s leaders were seeing ‘down the street and around the corner’ quite literally!

Yet foresight is only one of the elements MacCoby believes are needed to sustain long term growth.  The real challenges come into play when the other elements are missing.

Systems Thinking

Standard business thinking tends deal with complexity by dividing things –dynamic systems – into parts for the purpose of making them easier to manage and control.

As an illustration, take the question “How do you eat an elephant?” And the classic answer “One bite at a time.” That’s one bit, or bite at a time thinking.

Systems thinkers look at integrated (whole) systems, seeing and evaluating inter-dependent parts by how well they serve the overall purpose of the system. Focusing on the relationships between the parts that make a system function well, or not so well.

Back to the elephant …
Systems thinkers would ask questions like:

  • What’s our purpose for eating the elephant?
  • What critical events led up to the elephant? 
  • What relationships can we see between those events and other behaviors overtime? And how did they affect each other to create the elephant? 
  • What/who else is going to be affected by how we eat the elephant?
  • What happens to everyone if we make changes to anything?

System Thinking ‘Tools’ provide processes and archetypes for scenerio planning, managing change, innovating and problem solving. And equally important, avoiding unintended consequences, or fixes that fail. More on Systems Thinking.
 

Visioning
Combining Foresight and Systems Thinking into a holistic vision that uniquely positions your organization in the marketplace. And making it happen in the real world by selling the vision to others, while you constantly re-vision and adapt to changing circumstances.
Here’s a simple example …

  • Henry Ford’s Vision of ‘one model, one colour, one size’ worked initially. Yet it was a vision that failed to grow and adapt! It stopped working as soon as the competition matched Ford’s mass production techniques … and then forged ahead to meet the market demand for colors and other options.

On the other hand …

  • Microsoft’s Vision evolved from ‛a computer in every home’ pre 1999, to ‛empowering people through software, anytime, anyplace’ and in 2002, ‛to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.’ So far, Microsoft continues testing, evolving and adapting new ideas.   

Up next …
Motivating and Partnering. 

Visionary Leadership – the missing link

What can a ‘psychoanalyst’ tell us …
About leadership, change and creating long term success? Quite a lot it seems, especially if the ‘psychoanalyst’ has over 30 years experience coaching and advising CEOs and their teams, for multi-nationals.

And if you knew the same qualities could multiply your own career success, would you be interested?

Why visionaries fail
Have you noticed how often ‛glory stories’ in the business media seem to precede a fall from grace, a dramatic slide in the fortunes of organizations and their leaders?

From his personal vantage point Michael MacCoby, PhD., identified five core skills that are …

  • practiced by leaders who drive innovation and change to create long term success,
  • and missing in others, namely the visionary leaders who crash and burn just as they seem to approach the pinnacle of achievement.

The missing link
MacCoby defines the missing link as Strategic Intelligence, a combination of Foresight, Systems Thinking, Visioning, Motivating and Partnering.

He believes many leaders and entrepreneurs master the hard intelligence skills of Foresight and Systems Thinking, the numbers and technology. Yet far fewer develop what MacCoby calls the ‘real world’ skills of Visioning, Motivating and Partnering.
 

‘Real world’ skills 
Curious about this finding, I began reflecting on why Innergize clients seek out coaching and attend NLP programs. It’s usually because they are looking for ways to strengthen those ‘real world’ skills. Interestingly, MacCoby uses the term ‘real world’ skills interchangeably with soft skills.

NLP together with Systems Thinking, provides a great set of tools for developing and strengthening Strategic Intelligence – for living, leading and thriving in a changing world.

Next up, a closer look at MacCoby’s Strategic Intelligence, element by element.

Achieving Goals With Help From Your Mind’s Eye

The February issue of Fast Company has a piece on the role visualizing plays in goal achievement. If you found the two posts on Beliefs, Wishes and Goals useful, then Make Goals Not Resolutions may be worth a look.  The second page has a simple but powerful example of the process in action and the benefits. 

Neuro-linguistics offers some excellent techniques for fine tuning the qualities of your mental images. Qualities or visual distinctions you can use to support new behaviours, change beliefs about your own capabilities, and strengthen your confidence and other resources. 

The same qualities or distinctions can also be used to render those unhealthy foods we find way too tempting into something less attractive. Think of dressing up your favorite food, perhaps chocolate, so that it becomes as compelling as liver. Hummm … perhaps not. What about seeing it as something you can enjoy, just in small quantities.  Better!

Beliefs, wishes and goals – part 2

Testing your goals – how committed are you?
You have plans for 2008, important goals you want achieved.  Yet have you given any thought to how much of your success will depend on what you believe? And the strengths of those beliefs? 

More important than the level of your skills
What you believe about your ability to go out and make those goals happen will impact your results. What you sort of believe doesnt count! Maybe doesn’t count! Only firm beliefs will give you the determination and conviction to keep going when you hit resistance. Or obstacles. Any goal worth achieving will have a few obstacles.

What self talk reveals …
Listen to the questions you ask yourself.  The questions that dominate your self-talk shape your future.  Are your questions loaded with why? Why did this happen, why didn’t that happen? 
Questions like …

  • Why didn’t I get that opportunity when I worked so hard for it?
  • Why did that person fail to recognize the value I offer?
  • Why do I always seem to lose my focus just when things are going well? 
  • Why do I find (fill in the blank) so intimidating?
  • Why did I make such a (fill in the blank) decision?

Why questions focus on the past – the one thing you can’t change! Better to focus on now and the future you want using what and how questions. 
Questions like …

  • What do I want to create? 
  • How am I going to do it? 
  • What do I already have going for me that I can build on? 
  • What is the best next step? And how can I accomplish that?
  • What positive outcome could that person be trying to achieve by doing that behaviour? And how can I help them to be more effective? 

Driving with one foot on the brake
Finally, if you’re feeling a little stuck when logically, rationally, you have everything you need to get going? Perhaps it’s time to consider a coach.  There are comfortable, quick and effective ways to get you moving when you’re ready.

Just a suggestion
A coach trained in neuro-linguistics can help you turn weak beliefs and wishes into conviction, share a nifty technique for handling competing priorities, and align the values driving your goals for maximum motivation.  However you do it, here’s a wish that you get your 2008 off on a running start and have a terrific year!