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

Recognizing Hidden Opportunities

Some people say ‘luck is opportunity meeting a prepared mind.’

So how do you prepare your mind?

What are people who experience more of life’s lucky breaks doing differently? ‘Lucky breaks’ like synchronicity, being in the right place at the right time, bumping into the right people.

How are they thinking and behaving that sets them apart?  

Results from long term studies¹ show they share the following behaviour patterns. (Brain-based science explains how these behaviours work together. Let me know if you’d like more on the research.)

1. Connecting with people

  • Even during casual encounters like sharing an elevator, waiting in lineups, ‘lucky break’ people are more likely to exhibit non-verbal cues others read as being responsive and approachable.
  • They smile and initiate conversations, use gestures and physiology perceived as open – palms up, legs and arms uncrossed – and maintain twice as much eye contact.
  • Because of these behaviours, they build more successful, long lasting, trusting relationships. 

Steps you can take
Think you’re more comfortable with goals, tasks and data, than relating to people? Or you’ve been an introvert from birth? Does this mean you’re out of luck? No!

With a little practice and coaching in the basics of non-verbal communications, you’ll be surprised by how comfortable you can be … connecting with others whenever and wherever you chose.

You will need hands-on practice for this so take a workshop if at all possible. The benefits will impact all areas of your life.

 If you have NLP training
 Practice the A-R-T of rapport; use pacing and leading.

 Bonus
 Research on consumer behaviour² shows: the non-verbal sensory cues people experience during business and social interactions are mostly unconscious, yet they create the feelings people have about their experience. Those feelings have more influence on future (buying) decisions than facts or product features.

 2. Expect the best

Once you set your outcome, believe in it. Always expect the best, even when a goal is a stretch. At the very least, you’ll get valuable feedback. Plus you’ve heard those stories about overnight success … usually preceded by years of collecting feedback.

There is a wealth of research demonstrating the power of expectations, like the placebo effect in medicine, and studies on the expectations of teachers affecting the results of their students.

Steps you can take

  • Be curious. Examine the unexpected.
  • Use quirky humor (brains hate being bored.)
  • Use questions that help you see from different perspectives. For example, many NLP techniques were developed by changing perspectives on problems. By saying: “This is cool!” and “What else can I use it for?”

Other questions you can play with:

  • “What did I expect to happen?” “What really happened?” “What can I learn from this?”
  • “What if ….?” “What else can this mean?” “What question haven’t I asked yet?”

We can all learn from the processing pattern called dyslexia. People with dyslexia naturally see from many perspectives. It’s like their mind’s eye moves around seeing things from all sides.

  • Take an object you can hold in your hand and check it out from all sides. Now add a second object. Shut your eyes and imagine moving around the two objects so you can view them from both sides, top and bottom. Next think about your situation and view it from different perspectives by adding different elements and actions.

Many people with dyslexia have used this talent to innovate and lead brilliant careers. (Today there are also ways to harness dyslexia and make school easier as well.)

If you have NLP training
 Use Perceptual positions, Reframing, Chunking Up then lateral and down, Anchor creativity and solution states, neutralize stress with Time Based techniques.

 ¹Richard Wiseman and the Perrott-Warrick Research Unit, Hertfordshire University in the UK. 10 year study on luck;
 Kashdan, Rose and Fincham, 2004, Curiosity and exploration–facilitation positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities; K Anders Ericsson, Florida State U., 30 years research on expertise, various fields. 

²Consumer Behaviour Research (neuro-science)

  1. When asked about product choices, if people don’t know consciously, they will make up salient, plausible and socially acceptable reasons for what they do.¹
    In other words, customers will tell you what they think they should want, based on social influences – a tendency that has led to some costly miss-takes in consumer research.
  2. While features and benefits supply the rational reasons to justify a decision once it is made, the unconscious sensory elements of an experience have a far greater influence (positive or negative) on emotions, buying decisions and customer loyalty.¹
  3. Non-verbal cues and linguistic markers provide the most accurate information about what people want and intend to do, because they are largely unconscious. ²

¹ J. Le Doux, Center for Neural Science, NYU, Your Emotional Brain 1989
² J. Kagan, Harvard Mind:Brain:Behavior Initiative, 2002

Strategic Intelligence – Motivating and Partnering

Five core elements
For Michael MacCoby, ‘strategic intelligence’ requires foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating and partnering. (See the first three under Strategic Intelligence And Visionary Leadership.)

You might think of visioning as the pivotal element. Visioning combines foresight and systems thinking into a holistic view of the position you’re aiming for within the market place.  And then uses the last two elements, motivating and partnering, to make the vision happen.

Motivating
Engaging your team.  The ability to sell the Vision by understanding what combination of reasons, rewards, relationships and responsibilities will motivate the different people on your team. And …

  • Hiring people with the competence and values needed to achieve the vision.
  • Understanding what customers and other stakeholders value.

Partnering
Forming strategic alliances with those who share your values.

  • Building relationships inside and outside the organization, to further your own and others’ goals.
  • Requires trust, responsiveness, and a willingness to hear hard truths from partners.

Soft skills or real world skills?
Remember that MacCoby uses these terms – soft skills and real world skills – interchangeably. So you could be wondering why soft skills are so often left in the dust during uncertain or unstable times. Why so called hard skills are valued more than the ability to build relationships where trust and cooperation can flourish?
 

The missing link?
Studies by The Center for Creative Leadership found that leaders with soft skills were more able “to strike a balance between the bottom-line goals of the business and providing the support and direction that employees needed during periods of uncertainty.” 

And more, “Effective leaders seem better at blending the softer leadership skills – trust, empathy and genuine communication – with the tough skills needed to keep an organization afloat during difficult times.” More on the study

MacCoby reminds us that all of these skills can be acquired – either learned personally, or by forming a partnership with someone who will balance your own attributes and bring missing skills to the table.

In my own experience, many Innergize clients seek out coaching and attend NLP programs because they are looking for ways to strengthen those real world skills. 
 

More About …
Michael MacCoby is an anthropologist, psychotherapist, coach, consultant and author of several books including The Gamesmen, Why We Work and The Productive Narcissist. Over the years he has advised and studied CEOs at numerous organizations including SAS, Harmon Industries, AT&T, CP, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), Southwest Air, Volvo, Swedbank and The World Bank.

A Good News Story – Dophin Rescues Whales

In case you missed it …
Here’s a link to a March 13 event – Dolphin rescues beached whales. A wonderful example of inter-species empathy and cooperation. It flashed by in the news and I would have missed it but for a friend.  Seems to me, positive news is in short supply, so I thought I’d share. Do you have a story of empathy and cooperation?   


In a similar vain
The same friend mentioned his all time favorite movie, A Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (somehow I missed that too!) About dolphins and other animals sent to teach us … many things. I’ll probably have more to say after I catch the movie and book.  Stay tuned.

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.

The Environment – News Mainstream Media Misses

Are you concerned about the environment?
For those of us fortunate enough to be living in a developed country, I admit this is a rhetorical question. Most of us are already modifiying our behaviour, making small yet consistent changes to benefit the planet. 

Perhaps the bigger question is …
“Are we being given all of the information available to base those changes on?”  Or have we as a society, been high-jacked by those with a political agenda who would willingly discount facts in favour of a moralistic ‘better way?’

Are we discarding facts in our rush to the moralistic high ground?
An interesting question to which there are many answers, many points of view. Here’s a blog tracking environmental changes you may never read or hear about in mainstream media, because they run against current politically correct doctrine. A source of scientific facts offering many perspectives on the issue.    Wattsupwiththat and ice

An interesting coincidence
Last spring, while coaching a sales team I had an opportunity to sit in on a meeting with Kiewit, a construction, engineering and mining services company, very active in northern Canada. 

In the course of the conversation, a project manager commented that an ice bridge used to transport supplies into remote areas north of Fort McMurry (not accessible over land in warm weather) had been fully operational in the previous winter – 2006/07 – for over 180 days. Far longer than in recent years. Based on my less than perfect memory, this made it “the longest in 10 years.” Anecdotal but interesting.

Wondering?
Why would content like this appear on a blog for communications, motivation and neuro-linguistics? That’s a good question. Human motivation, motives and the words people use to justify their actions and influence the behaviour of others, all very interesting …

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!

Unconscious Communication And Job Fit – Part 5

Difference ways of relating at work
In part 4 of this series we looked at Sam’s perceptual filters for tackling tasks and getting things done at work – his need for procedures, tangible things and details. 

Now let’s decode the filters Sam’s boss Roger uses to achieve results at work – his passion for options and preference for working with general concepts rather than concrete details.  Once again think of decoding the subtext of language and other unconscious behaviours. (See part 4.) 
 

Decoding non-verbal behaviour
Roger usually drives with one hand on the steering wheel and a blackberry device in the other. At the same time he’ll be carrying on a conversation using one of his manycell phones.  Hands-free, of course.  On the scale of his career, he’s the consummate multi-tasker!  Juggling several projects at once gives him the variety he craves and the freedom to enjoy it. And that’s a clue signaling Roger’s passion for spontaneity and creating options, choices, alternatives.

Another tip off
Taking Roger through a methodical discussion leading to a final decision is impossible. He jumps from topic to seemingly unconnected topic, interrupting the flow of conversation. Making leaps of logic and generally racing ahead to insightful conclusions.

No decision is ever final. He can change his mind and his plans in an instant, and numerous times. Yet Roger intuitively knows when ideas will jell. He makes brilliant connections because he thinks in not just big, but huge pictures.  

In addition to options, those behaviour patterns signal a resistance to procedural activities and a preference for thinking in very general terms.  (And Roger does prefer leaving the details to others.)
 

Decoding language – structure and process
The words Roger uses reveal more.   He peppers his language with phrases like ‘creating alternatives,’ using ‘multiple approaches,’ having ‘the freedom to choose’ and keeping his ‘options open.’ He talks of ideas and concepts like ‘taking advantage of opportunities,’ ‘getting people on board’ and ‘high impact results.’ Intangible and general terms rather than concrete ‘things,’ you can see, hear, do and measure. And the details are conspicuous by their absence.

A mis-match of filters 
Roger and Sam are polar opposites in the way they filter information and function at work. So it’s little wonder they find it less than easy to communicate. It also explains why Sam is struggling to fit the role Roger expects him to fill. 

While there is no one right or best way to filter information, the key to motivation and productivity is to match people with jobs where core competencies and essential tasks fit their natural way of filtering information. They in turn will be able to function in ways that meet your criteria for success.

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!