In sports, you have referees and officials to help balance out any advantages a team may get by illegally interfering with an opponent. The football referees throw their yellow flags when one player interferes with, holds, or illegally blocks his opponent. In baseball, the umpire will call obstruction or interference when an opposing player unfairly impedes an opponent.
Interference is the act of or an instance of hindering, obstructing or impeding.
So what happens when the interference occurs in your own mind? What happens when your own thoughts get in the way, distract you and impede you from reaching your goals? Is there a referee there to blow the whistle and make it right?
Have you ever missed your exit?
Interference can happen even in the most routine parts of our day. Have you ever been driving down the highway and were so busy thinking about something that you forgot where you were going (even for a second) and missed your exit or turn? Were you just going with the flow of traffic (using "auto-pilot" down the roadway you were on) and momentarily oblivious to what was going on around you?
How is it that you lost track of your thoughts? It's amazing how often it happens during the day, isn't it? Our minds are incredibly busy. But, who's in control of your mind when you're not? Have you ever thought about that?
Thoughts are the foundation
If you are not the master of your thoughts, who is? I have an answer for you... it's the thought habits (mental roadways) that have been previously created in your mind.
As we have discussed in previous newsletters, our brains love to create roadmaps. These roadmaps are developed over time. Sometimes they are purposefully created; other times they are created without our conscious knowledge.
As the iceberg model below illustrates, our results or performance is driven by our behaviors. Our behaviors are driven by our choices. Our choices are determined by our emotions which come from our beliefs. Our beliefs come from our thoughts.
Our thinking is the foundation of the results we have in our lives. But what about all of those thoughts swirling around our minds? Some are not supporting our performance, our success.
These are the thoughts that we must control in order to limit the interference in our lives. If we don't, we will unconsciously continue to travel down the same mental roadways that got us to where we are today. If we don't change our thought habits on a daily basis, they will continue to go round and round on their own keeping us where we currently are in life.
performance = Potential - Interference
In the book The Inner Game of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallwey said that our performance (p) equals our potential (P) minus our interference (I). Tim clearly saw that fears, imagination, fantasy and self-doubt get in the way of performance. Yet, underneath all of that, you have the skills and ability to succeed. To realize your potential, you must minimize the interfering thoughts in your mind.
Your performance, your results, your success is determined NOT by the road that you take, but by the road that you make!
When we experience anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, self-doubt or any strong emotion, our neurons get flooded with electrical signals. This limits our capacity to process what is going on at the moment.
If we want to transform our results, we need to master our own minds.
- It means watching out for our tendency to take the easy, often-traveled LOW ROADS or habits that our mind has previously formed.
- It means opening our minds to new roadways that we can develop.
- This means building conscious HIGH ROADS - those roadways in our mind that we must build to get to where we aspire to be.
You can learn to unlearn/ignore your unproductive thought habits and build new thought habits. It's done the same way you learn your way through the roads a new town... practice. Many people try to practice on their own without a map or GPS, but the most effective methods involve feedback and accountability.
Coaching is one of the most effective ways to 'practice', receive feedback and be held accountable to do the work necessary to create the results you desire. Please contact me today to find out more!
Helping Others Overcome Interference
As a leader, how can you help your team avoid this interference and be more focused and productive?
In the Gallup Management Journal (Oct. 14, 2004) research shows that people reacted positively to criticism just once out of thirteen times! Criticizing doesn't work most of the time, yet we still insist on using it.
Other research indicates that people average a couple of minutes of positive feedback each year and almost none of it comes from their own thoughts. And, when they do get compliments from others, they rarely internalize it or let it in.
We can help our team by helping them quiet the noise in their head. This can be done by giving positive feedback. As leaders, we can make a big difference in their thinking habits and therefore the results that they produce. Let's help our teammates become better by encouraging them and changing their habits.
To know and not to do is not to know
Knowing you should give more positive feedback is not the same as doing it!
Here are a few examples of how to accentuate the positive from the book, Quiet Leadership :
- Appreciation: "I really appreciate you completing that task on time."
- Validation: "I can see you've given this task a great deal of attention."
- Recognition: "It's clear that you are very talented at doing that task."
- Affirmation: "I think you deserve most of the credit for this project."
- Confirmation: "It's great that you took on this project, it suited you."
- Thanking: "Thanks for taking the time to focus 100% on this project."
If you are saying to yourself that all of these principles are pretty basic - you're right! That doesn't mean that they are easy to live by. What's required is the creation of new roadways in your mind. (That's what coaching is all about!)
In order to transform performance, you need to develop the habit of validating, confirming, encouraging, supporting and believing in the potential of your team. As they begin to see themselves in a new light, reality will start to change as well.