“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Principal Consultant Stuart Bailey explains why getting your mindset right is the key to taking action
“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”
I love this quote from Henry Ford. It’s one I share with my kids when we talk about challenging moments; those events, which might feel uncomfortable or uncertain, which involve stepping into the unknown or create a fear of failure.
It captures, perfectly, the way we think about things, and the words and stories we tell ourselves.
In recent weeks, I was involved in two large conference-style events and my eldest son ran cross-country for his school in one of his first ‘big’ events. These events, while very different, had a number of similarities, all involving those ‘voices in our heads’.
We worked with one company to challenge a group of high-performing women to push themselves out of their comfort zones and take control of their choices, and empowered them to own their development. We introduced them to some simple yet effective strategies to manage their states and to be more confident when facing triggers that hijack their emotions.
One of these strategies highlighted the link between the things we tell ourselves and the behaviours we show. If we think we can do it and we act like we can do it, then the result has a better chance of following.
We encouraged them to choose a behaviour that would serve them better in order to be at their best more of the time. The changes were immediate, as their confidence levels grew and their commitment grew with it.
Alongside this, my son had qualified to represent his school at the town cross-country championships. At just 10 this must be a daunting event and, not having ran too many races before, he didn’t know quite what to expect.
We talked about nerves and how top athletes channel them as excitement. We came up with a little strategy that when it got tough, which he knew it would, he would tap his left shoulder and press his imaginary ‘boost button’.
When pressing it, he would imagine his friends from school, his classmates, his teachers, his friends, his football teams and his family all shouting and cheering for him. He would feel the rush of energy as we all urged him on and he would work harder to respond to those cheers.
I am pleased to say that it worked a treat. He is now a proud owner of a silver medal and a repeatable strategy he can use again.
Back at work, we took what traditionally had been a stale group update and turned it into an energising, inspirational and compelling set of stories, aligned to the organisation’s strategy. Our approach helped to join several dots for the audience and gave clear direction for the future.
We asked people to think and act differently, and to push their own barriers. The response was fantastic. We helped them turn their limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs, giving them the confidence to remain calm under pressure and to think clearly when the heat is well and truly on.
They practised throughout the day, often for less than 10 minutes a time, but each exercise helped them create new pathways in the brain to make these changes stick.
I finished the week tired, yet hugely buoyant. A great group of people had applied different ways of looking at the world and these different sets of beliefs have served them well.