March 30, 2023
TPL Insights #164 – Back by Popular Demand: How High-Performance Mindset Enables Full Human Potential
By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Lou Tice, Late Founder of The Pacific Institute, and Michael O’Brien, Founder of The BluePrint Toolset and Allen Austin Partner
Realizing full human potential requires a certain mindset. No one climbs to the top of any profession without suffering trials, tribulations, and setbacks. If we are to achieve our full potential, we will learn how to think, how to control self-talk, and how to program ourselves to live the lives we want, rather than the ones we may be headed toward. For fifty years, the brilliant principals at The Pacific Institute have known that we can change the way we believe, altering the way we are being. We build our beliefs through our thoughts, self-talk, and visualization. Self- talk triggers mental pictures, brings about emotions, and forms beliefs. As these beliefs accumulate, they build patterns and self-images. We are never victimized by the beliefs or opinions of persons around us; rather we have been positively or negatively influenced by them. As we allow these beliefs to accumulate, we move toward the self- image that exists in our minds.
Human beings do not act in accordance with the truth. We act in accordance with the truth as we believe it to be. I encourage you to learn to control what you think about, to learn to filter the information that comes to you from others. If you choose to accept and give sanction to the creative, constructive, and positive thoughts, while rejecting the negative and self-depreciating thoughts and beliefs, you will begin to accumulate positive thought patterns. You will begin to see yourself, your organization, and in fact the world in a much different light. You have all heard it said, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This is not just a saying, but our reality. You cannot indefinitely perform in a manner inconsistent with your self-image. If I change the way I “think”, I change the way I “see.”
You are where you are, and you will wind up where you wind up, because of the way you see yourself. If you see yourself as capable of amazing accomplishments—your chances skyrocket. If you listen to the nay-sayers of the world, the ones who have told you all your life to think realistically, to lower your sights, and get your head out of the clouds, you will leave most of your potential on the table. We all need to watch our self-talk. Every adult on the planet is living the reality that they have created in their own mind. Many people go through life affirming problems and not solutions.
If we are to achieve our full potential, we need to decide to move toward what we want. We need to see the joy, the accomplishment, and perfection. Then we need to write out affirmations of a new reality; so, we don’t randomly allow our thoughts to meander. Discipline and control the projection of your imagery to allow what you really want to become reality. Surround yourself with positive things, positive stimuli, and possibility thinkers, not complainers and thumb suckers. Human beings become like the people with whom they associate, the tapes they listen to, the books they read, and the programs they watch. People who are growing and accomplishing envision a bright future as if it existed today. They learn to “tell the truth in advance.”
You must learn to keep promises to yourself. When you know you can count on yourself, you develop new confidence and your self-esteem soars. The reality for most of us is that we promise ourselves a lot of things and deliver on few. Our delivery rate is low for several reasons. Some of us simply do not believe we are worthy of the best life. It has been said that you could literally take all the money in the world, divide it equally among all the people on the planet; and within five years, it would all be back in the same hands. The size of your goal will, to a great extent, be determined by your self-esteem. We must all continue to work on our self-esteem, so that the size and scope of our life goals grow in equal proportion.
Low self-esteem it is often difficult to recognize. People with low self-esteem unknowingly draw people to them that are impossibility thinkers, pessimists, and nay-sayers. You can measure the size of your self-esteem by looking around at the kinds of people with whom you feel comfortable associating, the quality of your relationships, your comfort with your spirituality, your physical state of health, and the overall quality of your life.
Build your self-esteem by thinking constructive uplifting thoughts about yourself, by eliminating sarcastic and demeaning thoughts and by eliminating sanction you give to those who don’t appreciate your potential. You must learn to put big positive weights on your own attitudinal balance scale without waiting for others. It is you and you alone who will ultimately determine your success in life. You must know you are good; you must wear it well, and then, and only then, will you be able to share your greatness, wisdom, and gifts with others.
Learn to be who you want to be by reprogramming with positive reinforcement. Don’t use coercive programing by telling yourself you have to lose weight, get fit, get disciplined or whatever. When you tell yourself, you must do something, it is the job of your subconscious to say, “You don’t have to, I’ll get you out of it” and then to work with creative avoidance, procrastination, or stalling to get you out of the “I have to.” Your subconscious will work against you if you try too hard and will move you toward that which it has been programmed by the conscious mind. Program your subconscious with the kinds of pictures you choose deliberately. This process will take repetition, but the rewards will be huge. You will reap benefits from this process in direct proportion to the effort you expend. You absolutely can be the person you believe you can be. Your challenge is to believe. Now, we’ll get into affirmations and visualization as our partners at The Pacific Institute teach.
Over your lifetime, through your perception of your surroundings, through all of your senses, you have been cataloging information about yourself. The data you’ve gathered has been interpreted and stored in your subconscious mind, as a collection of mental images. The images you’ve recorded, and to which you often refer, do not necessarily represent the truth; rather, they represent the truth as you perceived it. Then, over time, through vividly imagining these images, and refining their meaning, they constitute your present-day reality. This is literally the life you are living today.
The problem is that many of these images are seriously flawed. The collection of images that constitute your reality, the images that exist in your subconscious, drive the way you see your worth, your capacity for greatness, your ability to love, your spiritual connection, your physical health, your professional success, your financial condition, your friendships, the works. Every single human interaction you’ve ever had, has had a lasting effect on you. Every book you’ve read, every paper you’ve written, every movie you’ve seen, every relationship you’ve had, every recording you’ve listened to, every TED talk you’ve watched, is recorded in your subconscious mind. The fact that you’ve experienced and recorded these things is not, in and of itself, a problem. The problem is that human beings assign meaning, make judgements, and “edit” the data they gather before, during and after it’s collected.
Tracy Goss, in her book The Last Word on Power, says that human beings routinely assign meaning where there is none. Abraham Maslow said, “Geniuses are ordinary people who have had nothing subtracted from them.” Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever a man or a woman can see and believe they can achieve.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Marilyn Ferguson said, “Your past is not your potential. At any hour, you can choose to liberate the future.” Jim Rohn said, “The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming.” You won’t believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” Deepak Chopra said, “Find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” Brian Tracy said, “Fear and self-doubt have always been the greatest enemies of human potential.” I could fill many pages with quotes like these, but I’m sure you catch my drift.
Remember that human beings are teleological in nature, which means we move toward images. We move toward images in much the same way a heat seeking missile moves toward its target. The truth in this case does not matter, because we record our saved images as reality. This fact will be a big key in reprogramming yourself to become the person you want to become. I mentioned earlier that attending a 1981 seminar Lou Tice put on at The Pacific Institute had a profound and lasting impact on me. From the date I completed the seminar to this, I have had the tools to reprogram my mind to achieve my full potential. While I’ve not used the tools perfectly, they’ve added tremendous value, fulfillment and meaning to my life. What I need is a constant reminder that these tools exist, are grounded in sound scientific research, and are available for my use.
One challenge I face is going back in time, pulling an image from my subconscious, reliving it, re-interpreting it and re-saving it. When we visualize, sometimes quite vividly, these old images, they are edited and re-recorded in our subconscious. Much like editing and resaving a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file, the new file replaces the old one. The edited collection of new images constitutes our new reality. The equation goes like this, I X V = R on the subconscious level. Imagination X Vividness = Reality on the subconscious level.
Your current self-image is nothing more than a large collection of images that have been recorded, edited, and saved in your subconscious. You can learn to use experiential imagery to develop new pictures in your subconscious. You must be able to see your future as you desire it, in the present tense, to replace the old images with new ones. All meaningful and lasting change must start on the inside and work its way out. To create this change, we must create the kind of imagery that is personal, positive, and present tense. You will learn to see the changes you want to make, as already made. You will learn to see the income you want, the house in which you want to live, the physical health to which you aspire, in short, the life you want, as your current reality. We will learn to write out affirmations, use them as trigger tools, and use experiential imagery to reprogram our subconscious. We will be predetermining our future results, instead of moving through life being controlled by random people, places, things, and events.
The job of the creative subconscious is always to maintain sanity or reality; to make sure we act like the person who matches our subconscious reality. We cannot consistently act otherwise. Once we learn to see ourselves in a new light, our creative subconscious will lead us toward our new selves, with our new income, new business, new weight, new health, our new life. We will have deliberately decided the way we wanted to be, programmed our minds, and allowed the changes to take place. We will be using our subconscious precisely the same way an airline captain uses the automatic pilot on a commercial airliner. Our self-image is our automatic pilot system. It is that way today. It’s just that the programming has taken place randomly. We will now make deliberate decisions around how our automatic pilot system is programmed. We will use the tools of affirmation and imagery to permanently reset our automatic pilot systems.
Here is perhaps the coolest thing of all. Once you’ve reprogrammed your subconscious, you will not have to “work hard” to make your desired changes your new reality. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying you won’t have to work to become the person you want to be. Mastering these principles will require an open mind, a healthy sense of curiosity, eagerness to learn, and willingness to take a new approach. I was tempted just now to say take a leap of faith, but I don’t think that’s accurate. In 1937, When Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich, reprogramming your mind along these lines might have required taking a leap of faith. Today, I believe it is more a matter of recognizing what we’ve learned from neuroscience and using the knowledge to become the persons we want to become.
We cannot underestimate the supreme importance of being the architects of our own belief systems, our own self- images, our own automatic pilots, our own missile guidance systems. Allowing our self-images to be crafted unintentionally, particularly after we know this stuff, is just plain nuts. We now know that human beings are teleological in nature, meaning we subconsciously, free flowingly, effortlessly, move toward, and become like, that which we think about. We do not get what we want; we get what we picture. When we get this, we understand the importance of our belief systems.
Our beliefs are formed by the way we think. Human beings think in three dimensions. We think with words, images, and emotions. This three-dimensional conversation you have with yourself is called “self-talk”. You speak to yourself three times faster than someone speaking to you, and when they stop, your conversation becomes six times faster. Neuroscientists estimate we have about 50,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts, which most of us never think about consciously, accumulate to become beliefs. Once you imbed a belief, you act in accordance with it, whether it is true or not. Now we see how powerful self-talk is.
Our self-image absolutely determines our performance. It regulates the way we perform through what is called tension and anxiety feedback. Our self-image either enables us to achieve our full potential or prevents us frombecoming the person to which we aspire. The key then, is controlling the feedback loop, so the conversation we have with ourselves resets our mental image to one we want. We will always get negative or tension feedback when we act inconsistently with our mental picture. If we’ve reset our mental image to reflect who we want to become, and we can actually see ourselves in this new light, we subconsciously behave like, and move toward the new image.
Our self-talk has formed our current self-image. Words trigger images, and images bring about emotions or feelings. We can change our mental images, through statements called affirmations. An affirmation is a statement of fact or belief that we make to, and about ourselves. An affirmation consists of words that trigger pictures that bring about emotions. An affirmation is an aspirational statement about your health, your work, your family life, your financial wellbeing, your energy level, or any other area of your life you would like to improve.
Without realizing it, we make affirmations hundreds of times a day. The phrases “I am really tired” or “I don’t feel well today” or I have never been able to remember names” are all affirmations. Clearly these are unproductive affirmations, ones we really do not want to be a part of our self-image, and yet there they are, whether we like it or not. With each negative affirmation, we add a negative weight to our attitudinal balance scale. With every positive affirmation, we add a positive weight to our attitudinal balance scale. These affirmations have accumulated up until now and make up our current self-image.
Your self-image determines, to a very large extent, who you are. While It may not be the truth, it is your truth, your reality. Your self-image controls your daily performance; how you act, behave, and respond to every situation. When evaluating another’s self-image, don’t listen to what they say, watch the way they act, the way they perform, the quality of their lives. These are the true manifestations of their self-image. We act in accordance with the way we see ourselves. We cannot, for very long, act in a manner inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.
When we act inconsistently with our picture, we get uptight; we experience tension and anxiety feedback. We then act with subconscious creativity to return to our picture. What makes it difficult to change is when you act or perform; you talk to yourself about it. Your statements to yourself or others either reinforce or modify your self- image. Your subconscious literally accepts every affirmation or statement you make. It does not have the ability to determine truth from fiction, right from wrong, or imagination from reality.
Your subconscious is your autopilot. Once programmed, It’s always working hard to bring about your picture, your statements of fact, and your affirmations. You keep building on your self-image through the on-going conversation you have with yourself. You must be careful about what you say to yourself. Our conversation goes in two veins. When we say something like “that’s just like me, I am always late”, we do three things. One, we reinforce our self- image of always being late. Second, we help assure that we are late next time and the next. Finally, we put another negative weight on our attitudinal balance scale. In contrast, when we act or perform better than our self-image, we say things like “that’s not like me, I usually screw things up, and I was just lucky this time.”
Conversely, someone with an optimized self-image, experiences disharmony when their performance is not up to par, when they err in judgment, when they disappoint, or underperform. Realizing their behavior or performance does not measure up to their healthy self-image, they’ll say something like, “that’s not like me, I’m usually excellent at this.” When they make that kind of correcting affirmation, they reinforce their positive self-image and put another positive weight on their attitudinal balance scale.
We can’t hold two conflicting views at one time. This is the reason some people experience temporary success. They temporarily step outside their own comfort zone or picture and enjoy short-term prosperity. Then they realize they are operating outside their picture, they get uptight, and their subconscious goes to work to help them get back to their reality, their picture, their self-image. Those who do not think of themselves as winners will experience disharmony when they do win. Those of us, who already think of ourselves as winners, will experience disharmony and tension when we fail. Our subconscious will go to work creatively to move us back to our reality, which is in this case, is prosperity, physical fitness, healthy relationships, spiritual contentment, and a productive life.
Examples of Effective Affirmations
- It feels so great to enjoy my trim, toned and fit 170-pound body. The boundless energy and wellbeing I experience because of my diet and exercise regimen makes me so grateful for having made the commitment.
- I feel so good today because I’ve been willing to take risks, weigh my options, make the best decisions I could at the time and give myself the freedom to be imperfect. My personal growth is so exciting because of my commitment to stretch and experience new things. I am truly the person I’ve wanted to become.
- I am so amazed at my planning and organizational skills I’ve developed. Because I’ve focused on the why behind my goals, acted creatively and innovatively, challenged assumptions of the past, including my own, I’ve been able to do what most people think impossible. It feels so good!
- I am so proud of the reputation I’ve developed for integrity. Because I know the end doesn’t always justify the means and that the method by which I get results matters, I am able to act on my convictions while allowing others to grow at their own pace. Integrity feels so fantastic!
- The relationships I’ve built today are my greatest asset. Because I’ve learned to operate with an open agenda, communicate clearly and concisely, and let people know why I do the things I do, people trust me and value my friendship and thought partnership.
- The way I think today amazes even me! These days I am more concerned about others and see them as worthy of my time. I feel happy for others when they succeed and get just as much joy from their success as they do. Because I feel so comfortable in my own skin, I no longer feel the need to “impress” others.
- It feels so incredible to have $10 million in bank and a $2 million personal practice. I’m so confident in my financial performance today that I downplay my own contributions and focus on the needs and goals of others.
- The sense of pride I feel in having built a $20 million consulting firm with $4 million EBITDA
How has your self-talk either enhanced or detracted from your current self-image and how is it effecting your current reality? If you are a senior leader in an organization, how is your self-image affecting your company’s performance? What are you doing today to design and build a more powerful self-image? What are you doing to help your subordinates build a stronger and more productive self-image? If you would like to have a conversation along these lines, please let me know.