We all talk to ourselves anyway, why not say nice things then

Man at Grand Canyon

When I read a lot of psychology or self-help books I see a lot about visualization, talking to ourselves, imagining how we want to be and actually seeing ourselves in the situation. For the longest time I too thought it was a lot of psycho-babble nonsense, but then the realization hit me. We all talk to ourselves, we all visualize situations, we all imagine ourselves in situations anyway – so why not change the language so we are saying nice things to ourselves, instead of beating ourselves up all the time?

Kenneth Baum has some great audio tracks available on his website, www.mindoverbusiness.com that gets you into a good state for beneficial visualization. Oddly enough, we all know how to talk to ourselves, so instead just change the script from one of self-doubtto one of self-do. Baum then takes it a step further and says to develop your own “performance talk,” (Baum 116).

Performance talk is like an incantation but instead of being unrealistic and setting impossible expectations, like saying, “I’m a great soccer player because I score every time I kick the ball,” you instead say, “I am a great soccer player because I am ready to score at anytime.” (Baum 117). At least in the second instance you have some control over the outcome, whereas in the first, there are too many variables that are beyond your control. When I played hockey in the beer leagues, I used a similar incantation and it worked much better – whenever I got the puck and was in a position to score, I would focus on making the best shot possible for that situation. If the goalie stopped it, well, good on him. While I could learn some of the tendencies and tactics of the opposing goalies, I could not control what they did, only what I did – as a result, I was eventually one of the top scorers on the team.

  • Use performance cues (Baum 133). Performance cues are like triggers. Like a golfer who sets up for a shot, shortly before taking the shot they will follow a routine. This gets them into their performance state. Same thing with basketball players making free throws. Ever wonder why they bounce the ball a specific number of times? They are using their own performance cues. You can do the same thing before walking into a seminar, business meeting or sales presentation (take the basketball into your next presentation).
  • Successful people do what needs to be done, whether they want to do it or not (Baum 141). A good friend of mine that guest lectures one of my aviation job targeting courses, has a similar saying: a professional is someone who does what needs to be done even though they don’t want to. That’s a key distinction. Everyone can do the fun stuff, but those who want to succeed do the un-fun stuff too. This is not just a saying either – it’s a strategy. As Baum says (147), too many people look to far forward to the result and not to the activity that gets you the result. Try walking up a rocky mountain trail without ever looking down to see where you’re feet need to go. The folks in Pensacola who were in flight school all had their eye on those Wings of Gold, but the successful ones, whether they were Navy, Marines or Coast Guard, all were focused on today’s flight, then when that was done, they were only focuses on tomorrow’s flight. That’s called being focused on the activity.
  • Keep the engine fueled, oiled and running. Baum calls this Consistent Resilient Action (CRA). The average person stays motivated about 17 days (Baum 174). In order to stay motivated for longer you need CRA. CRA is action + a made-up-mind.  Baum says to keep your desire statement handy and read it daily. This will help keep you focused. There’s also the power of momentum. Whenever I start a new habit I take consistent action on it every day. This build momentum and whichever direction you point your action, it will create momentum in that direction. It’s Newton’s 3rd Law – an object in motion tends to remain in motion until acted on by another force. This blog is an example. My goal is 5 blogs per week per book. I found that as I got going and continued, the momentum got to be so strong, that I now feel pulled by it, no longer having to push it forward. Think of an old car where you had to have someone push you while you popped the clutch. All habits and actions must first be pushed – once you have momentum, then they pull you.

Baum’s book finishes with a great 21-day action plan that I urge you to check out. It incorporates all of the material in his book and puts into a realistic time frame and context. It will cause you to grow and become more. The final concept to consider is that we must not stop growing. We must not stop challenging ourselves. We are built to grow, to expand beyond our limitations, to experience and explore (Baum 178). I remember this whenever I’m feeling the fear of new situation and realize that to shrink from it, will cause me to shrink as a person. Same thing when I’m working out – if I’m comfortable while I’m working out, then I’m not growing. When you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you open up the ability to do whatever it is that you pushed yourself to do, PLUS, so much more. Your circle of influence has just grown exponentially.

Visualize where you want to be. Start talking to yourself like you would want to be talked to (kindly, encouragingly). Focus on the task at hand and from that you will continue to build momentum. Comfort is not your goal. Being uncomfortable means you’re growing, you’re expanding, you’re becoming more. With that momentum, push yourself even farther out – who knows where you might land?

Baum, Kenneth, and Bob Andelman. Mind over Business: How to Unleash Your Business and Sales Success by Rewiring the Mind/body Connection. New York: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.

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