Recently, I was leading a group discussion on reframing low performance thoughts and stories into high performance thoughts and stories. At Tignum, we consider low performance thoughts and stories as those that are filled with drama, involve being a victim, make ourselves appear to be helpless, and focus on those things out of our control. I was using some common examples such as, “I am not good enough”, “I can’t handle this anymore”, and “I will never get through all of my email”. As we started to create some powerful reframes, someone raised their hand and asked, “How do you know you aren’t just lying to yourself?"
This was a great question because, if not done properly, reframing could just be an exercise of trying to fool yourself. The difference comes through in a few nuances. A high performance thought or story is one that is highly aware and true, one that identifies/focuses on those things within your control, and one that is action-oriented and moves you towards a solution. This is different than simply looking at the bright side or just staying positive. This latter type of thinking suggests that we tell ourselves things such as, “fake it until we make it” or “look at the bright side; at least it’s a beautiful day outside”, even when targets are not met, decision-making has stalled, and our team’s budget is cut.
A High Performance Mindset approach moves us forward, captures those things within our control, and brings us closer to a solution that will create a better outcome. A system we use is:
_Is this thought true? Or, am I awfulizing, dramatizing, or over-assuming? Sometimes a low performance thought can be partially true such as, “I will never get through all of my email.” While it might be true that you won't get through all your email in one sitting, the word never is a little dramatic.
_How does this thought serve me? Our brain doesn’t do anything by mistake, so even a low performance thought has a purpose. It may be to create an excuse, to make a smoke screen to cover a perceived failure, to support a poor self-image, or a legitimate call for help.
_How can I reframe my self-talk to be more high performance? This could be something like, “I won’t get through all my emails in this sitting, but I will quickly prioritize my email and answer the 3 that are most critical."
Using the above questions to quickly filter any impeding low performance thoughts, is a skill that is developed over time. It takes high awareness, quick recognition, and practice. This requires a mentally agile brain that is well nourished, fully recovered, and synchronized/energized with movement. In many ways, the actual lie is the low performance thought, and the high performance reframe is the truth. Naturally, we all have doubts and low performance self-talk, but challenging these thoughts and stories help you become more authentic and impactful.
Like all our strategies, consistent practice will make high performance reframing a habit that moves you closer to Sustainable High Performance. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
By Chris Males
Director of Performance Coaching