May 27, 2021

TPL Insights: Building Peak-Performance Cultures #69 – How Mindset Enables Full Potential, Part 3

By Rob Andrews

With paraphrased content from The Pacific Institute: The World’s Foremost Authority on Mindset, Fresh Thinking and Organizational Agility
Continued from TPL Insights #67: How Mindset Enables Full Human Potential Part 2

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about 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 from becoming 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.

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.

Warmest Regards,

Rob Andrews
Allen Austin
Consultants in Retained Search & Leadership Advisory