Don’t think of a white bear…

Now, like the DJ at my sister’s wedding who played ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ as the first dance for the happy new couple, or the Huddersfield based holiday bus driver, who stopped at a tea shop with a bus load of Italian tourists and told them not to drink a coffee called expresso, because it’s nasty strong muck…we all make mistakes.

But can you imagine how monumental a mistake might be in the final game that either Manchester City or Liverpool play this season in the English Premiership?

Premier League standings as of 15 April 2019

It is one reason why some of these high pressure games can be a damp squib. Some players can be as keen not to be the one that loses the game, rather then the one who wins it. If you were a footballer in your biggest game of the season, would you be playing to get the cheers, or to avoid the boos?

But look, I don’t want this piece to be about football. I want it to be about performance psychology; how do we get the most out ourselves and each other. The paradox is that the more you try and not make mistakes, the more likely we are to do so. We are drawn towards our most dominant thought. Expectation becomes reality, and we do get what we think about, even if it is something we don’t want to happen. A penalty taker, repeating the mantra of ‘don’t hit this over the bar’, or ‘don’t miss this’ is the same as a golfer standing on the first tee and thinking ‘don’t hit it left’ or ‘don’t drop it in the water’.

How many times in business are we motivated by what we don’t wish to lose? We think, “Wouldn’t it be good to communicate with these customers through this channel”, and then someone says “yes, that’s great but how much will this cost if it doesn’t work?”. Every new idea is at the mercy of what we will lose if it goes wrong; market share, revenue, income, margin, so much to lose…something else too though as a leader….your reputation and status.

The best way to not make mistakes is to be motivated by what we wish to achieve, rather than by what we wish to avoid.

Did you know, our subconscious mind never hears the words ‘not or ‘don’t’? Don’t think of a white bear….see? If you put into Google, do not show me pictures of white bears….guess what you get? Our mind is the same. To try and move away from things, actually brings us closer towards them.

By being expansive in our thinking and ambitions to achieve our goals and objectives, we are more likely to give ourselves the best opportunity of achievement and expressing our natural talent. When we are motivated by what we are seeking to achieve, we are in the mind-set of creation. When we are motivated by what are seeking to avoid – we are in the mind-set of protection.

The only way we can create a growth mind-set, create clear blue water between ourselves and the competition or outperform the markets is by co creating and co authoring a future with our network (customers and colleagues) based upon what we are seeking to achieve together.

It is also important for us as human beings to remember we are capable of making mistakes, it doesn’t make us a mistake. We can fail, it doesn’t make us a failure. We must detach the action from the person to give us the best learning opportunity.

The writer of the Soprano’s said after years of failing in Hollywood as a writer “The road to success is littered with corpses…unfortunately most are suicides’. He was really talking about those who give up to soon. I think this quote also relates to those companies and leaders whose demise will be born from their inability to move from protectionism and into the space of truly seeking to achieve.

I think they’ll be two types of company in the future – brave or dead. Which company are you in?

Jamil Qureshi is a performance psychologist and author of “The Mind Coach”. To book him or any other speaker for your event contact JLA here

 

 

 

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