This week I had the great experience of meeting a very wise person who reminded me of one of the most fundamental lessons I ever learned about mindset. Her name is Shirley, she's 93 years old, and she studied under Maxwell Maltz, one of the pioneers of high performance mindset training. As we were having lunch, and sharing some of the fantastic mindset breakthroughs we had both experienced, she leaned over and said, "How could you ever expect anyone to outperform their own self-image? It's impossible."
When you think about this statement, it is amazingly simple yet equally powerful. We all carry with us an image in our brain of how we see ourselves. This image is formed by our parents, our friends, our coaches, our religion, our culture, and even our bosses. Even more important, it is reinforced with our thoughts, our self-talk, and our stories. For too many people this is a self-image of failure, weakness, of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being respected, not being trustworthy, and not being successful. The fact is that you can reframe the thoughts that these images create all you want but until you consciously decide to rip up that image and create a new one, you won't make much sustainable progress.
At Tignum, we work with our clients to create their To Be Vision. This is a vision of their best self. One that is true to their values, full of energy, successful, powerful, effective, authentic, resilient, and everything else representing what they want To Be. We help them see the benefits of creating this vision and then we help them build the roadmap to get there. But what happens when this image is too far away from their self-image? This creates a credibility gap and the brain has a hard time believing in the To Be vision. Even worse, the brain sabotages any actions, it creates setbacks, it fabricates psychosomatic pains and illnesses, it creates such a strong negative dialogue that they can't silence it. When this happens they can't outperform it.
So how can you bridge this gap? First, you have to be relentless in challenging what you have accepted as your self-image. When it comes from so many outside sources it really isn't your "self"-image anymore. You need to take ownership of your "self". The next thing you need to do is to be sure you are practicing the best Sustainable High Performance habits that you can. When you become exhausted, hypoglycemic, full of negative thoughts, over stressed (under-oscillated), and nutrient deficient your brain will take the path of least resistance and immediately go back to the poor self-image you had imprinted. Finally, you need to create your To Be Vision, write it down, add photos to it, share it with people close to you, and own it. You need to mentally visualize yourself as you want To Be over and over again until this is the only image that the self recognizes.
Are these strategies simple? Yes. Are they easy? No; they take practice as anything new does. But when you think of the benefits of closing the gap and creating this new self-image, I think you'll see it is worth the efforts. As I said to Shirley, "It may be impossible to outperform your self-image, but with some work you can recreate your self-image. Then anything is possible."
As you go through your busy day, and you notice how your self-image may be impacting your performance, I'd love to hear what you think. After all, it's what YOU think that matters.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer