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More Controversial Views on Peak Performance and Success

By Steve Wells

We had an incredible response to my last article on The Power of Negative Thinking and Negative Feeling, and a lot of people wrote very insightful comments. In that article, I argued that your negative thoughts don’t have as much power as many people believe they do, so you can relax, it will probably never happen. I also argued that negative feelings are not necessarily negative, and that avoidance of negative feelings can be more of a problem. Acceptance can be a powerful tool for change…

This week I want to follow up and extend this theme by ranting about some of the prevailing beliefs about success and peak performance. There is so much that can be said, however I am only going to add a little bit at a time because some of this stuff is so far outside the prevailing “success” paradigm that too much too soon could upset too many people too profoundly.

Be warned: This article may challenge your cherished beliefs.  I recommend if you know EFT or SET that you tap as you read this…

Here’s a surprising (to many) finding in the area of peak performance: Those who are peak performers are usually those who have simply worked harder than others at improving. And what motivates them to work so hard? For many, it was a significant failure or negative experience that provided them with the motivation to succeed.

Now a lot of people will look at this and say, yes ok, but they then would have needed to turn that failure into a positive focus to drive them forward. Not necessarily. In fact, many people have become very successful by keeping their previous failure in focus!

Michael Jordan is universally considered to be the best basketball player of all time. And yet he was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. That “failure” became the stimulus to his success. It drove him to hit the basketball courts and train for hours on end. He says of that time, “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again.”

Now according to The Secret focusing on that negative should have DIS-empowered Michael and led him to more failure, rather than onward to success…

But this is not what happened.

The reality is that many of the things we currently believe about success are really B.S.!  That’s right, Belief Systems! And many of these we take on board too easily without checking (1) if they apply; (2) if they really work; and most importantly, (3) if they work for us. For the reality is that what CAN work for one person or some people doesn’t necessarily work for others.

Like affirmations, which really don’t work for most people who try them…

How can I say this? Because I have asked in numerous workshops for people to put up their hand if they use or have tried using affirmations, then I ask them to leave their hand up if affirmations really work for them. Guess what? Only about 15 percent of those who report using affirmations actually leave their hand up to indicate that it really works for them. So why are so many people using this method? Because they are being sold a bill of goods and told that one size fits all and this will work for you if you only use it and if it isn’t working for you then you must be doing it wrong or you just don’t believe strongly enough…

Which brings us to the issue of beliefs…

Now you may believe that beliefs are all powerful, that if you believe it, it will happen, right? Well if your belief is not backed by reality, if your belief does not relate to what you and others can verify, if your belief is not backed up by action, it just may be a delusion. If you wonder about this, check out the next showing of American (or Australian, or Insert your own country here) Idol when they do the initial auditions. You will see a lot of young people who cannot sing a note who really believe they are incredibly brilliant singers!

Now don’t get me wrong here, I do believe that many of these people (maybe all of them) ultimately have the POTENTIAL to become better singers, if not very good singers. But their current understanding of their ACTUAL performance does not equate with what the world sees as good singers. Conclusion: They currently suck! In order not to suck, they need to do what peak performers do and get connected into the external feedback available in the world, mainly by contacting a singing teacher or voice coach who knows what they are talking about, actually do some work on developing their singing voice, and so on, especially since the version of success they have chosen relies on external validation (i.e. unless they can convince a lot of people that their way of singing IS good singing, then they won’t make enough to eat).

You CAN create a belief by repeating something to yourself often enough until you believe it but far better to also ground that belief in ACTION and RESULTS.

Ok, ok, I know that we are all supposed to sing like nobody is listening, dance like nobody is watching, and work like we don’t need the money. Well that SOUNDS good but if you are going to follow this advice I suggest you do it (sing, dance, whatever) when nobody IS watching. I danced like nobody was watching once and my wife walked off the dance floor. I think the actual words she used were, “If you are going to dance like an idiot, I’m not dancing with you!”

There’s an interesting process which we learned from Frank Farrelly and which we get people to engage in when using Provocative Energy Techniques (PET): Psycho-social reality testing. What is this long-worded process? It is checking your beliefs out in the world and seeing if they really apply! Checking them out with others, not just keeping them in your head where they SEEM real. Checking them out in the real world and judging by their RESULTS.

Just because you believe it doesn’t make it true…

And this applies just as much to your negative beliefs as it does to your positive beliefs. We all know people who believe they are not worthy and not good enough who are in reality wonderful, brilliant, awesome people, if only they could see it…

Josh Billings said: “The trouble is not that people are ignorant, the trouble is they know so much that just ain’t so!”

I love this illustration, ascribed to Werner Erhard: A guy holds a brick in his hands, and then opens his hands. What happens? The brick falls to the floor. Conclusion: Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, it just keeps operating. There are universal laws that operate independently of your belief systems. Ignore them at your peril. Does this mean you can’t learn to levitate or fly one day? No. It’s just that’s not the way I’ll be betting…Especially not if you haven’t done a few experiments first and built some foundations for your belief… I suggest you do so before stepping off that cliff…

Which brings us again to the issue of action …

This is perhaps my favourite bug-bear because when it comes to success it is really action that separates the achievers and the peak performers from everyone else. Peak performers are willing to take action on their dreams, and they persist in taking action.

Regardless of how much it seems like it, chanting and affirming and visualisation and even tapping are useless if they aren’t followed by action… Anyone who wants to achieve something who thinks it will just come to him or her will be waiting a long time.

Arent we all doing this to a large extent, waiting to be discovered, for that moment, that signal when all is right, our turn has come to shine. That time is now.

Here’s an Ancient Chinese Proverb: Person who wait for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very long time.

Here’s another one: Person who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend entire life on one leg. Those ancient Chinese certainly knew what was what,

What about the issue of vibration? Don’t I have to get my vibe right?

It’s not just your vibration, honey; it’s your lack of action that is causing your current situation!!!

Yes vibration and energy is important, we teach this in our workshops, but energy also comes from action, movement. In fact, sometimes it is easier to get energy from movement rather than waiting for energy prior to movement.

People say I will exercise when I have more energy. Not good. Energy comes from exercise. Action produces energy. You don’t say fire I will put some wood on you when you give me some heat! (I wish I could remember where I first read this so I could attribute this correctly). You go to the gym I’m sure you will feel better afterwards. You know this don’t you?

Here’s what the peak performers are doing: They are quite simply taking the actions that others are not taking. But that isn’t all they are doing. They are noticing the results of their actions, and adjusting their actions based on that feedback in order to constantly improve their results.

This line from an excellent article by Scott Miller, Mark Hubble and Barry Duncan titled “Supershrinks: What is the secret to their success?” says it all really: “The key to superior performance? As absurd as it sounds, the best of the best simply work harder at improving their performance than others” (in the August 2008 edition of Psychotherapy in Australia).

So I say yes have a wonderful vision. Yes, dream big dreams. Yes, work on creating an energetic connection to your dream. Yes do EFT and SET tapping. But then get into action to make your dream happen or it will STAY a dream. And when you do take action, notice the results of your actions and use that to improve. Then keep on going, and persist, not in the same actions, but in the newly modified actions based on your feedback, continually noticing what takes you forward towards your goal and doing more of that …

What do you think? We would love to read your comments.

Want to learn an approach to success that works? Consider coming along to one of our workshops. For details on upcoming workshops see:

11 thoughts on “More Controversial Views on Peak Performance and Success”

  1. Hi Steve,
    Really enjoyed your article on ‘negative beliefs’. It was quite refershing. About time some one took a stand with the new age popular BS about affirmations, tapping and changing vibrations. Diddly squat will happen if these are not followed up with action as you said.
    I get daily emails/calls from people wondering why they are not ‘abundant’ or ‘happy’ or ‘successful’ and they have spent hours, nay, days tapping on getting to these desired states.
    And yes, there are several successful people who have made it in spite of their negative thoughts. In fact they made it because of their negative thoughts. Negative energy can be harnessed to motivate us into acting and going towards our goals…..of couse we have to set the goals to go towards as well 😉

  2. Hi Steve, Thanks for your comments, I would say I am very committed to success, what ever that means for everybody, I have my goals and dreams for my life. I contnually ask myself is the action I am choosing to do taking me towards or away from my vision of the future. I continually choose actions that lead me to the desired outcome. With the financial climate as it is we have had massive challenges. Do we give up and play not to lose or do we continue down the path of playing to Win. Firstly we go into shock (start tapping), but not for too long. Then we choose actions that will ultimately have us succeeding. It is very interesting what we learn about ourselves and our industry throughout the challenge period. ALL GOOD

  3. I just had to chuckle all the way through your words re B.S. (Belief Systems). So true, so true. I am one who has had limited success with energy methods and dealing with spinal stenosis and leukemia together, being 75 and still employed part-time, and being very limited in B.S. as well, I have needed to take action both physically and spiritually. The methods have given me insight, but not healed my body. But I think each and every method has value, as long as we know that The Secret is in integrating body, mind and spirit to understand what our soul purpose is….not an easy task! And negative thoughts? Are they always my own??
    Keep on with your wonderful sense of humor and, please Steve, let us see your photos from your Rocky Horror Show experience!

  4. G’day Steve,

    Great follow up to your previous article on the power of negative thoughts and feelings. YES! Taking action (doing something) has an energy frequency as do thoughts, feelings, words etc.

    Action is something that is not focused on particularly in Law of Attraction circles. I think it is amazing that when it comes to success and peak performance taking action is reduced to a poor cousin to thoughts, beliefs…

    The question I guess is what prevents us from taking action? My thinking is leaning toward pain. Pain & pleasure are controlling forces in human behaviour and if we feel stuck and not taking action it could very well be that taking action is more painful than not taking action. For example, a student may fear success/failure, fear taking action and studying because they may not get the marks they want. So they would rather “fail” by not trying than “fail” knowing they have given it a 100%. So yes there are beliefs there but waiting till we “clear” negative beliefs, thoughts etc before taking action is simply another B.S excuse.


  5. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your interesting article. I agree with alot of what you say. Most of my life I have come from a point of view in which I would say that the Law of attraction is just BS. By the way, is there one solid, definition of the “Law of attraction” that everyone agrees to? I have not seen the movie, the Secret.
    I have had the idea that I should “just do it”, and or use “will power”, and or hard work, and prayer. These are all great. Sometimes when we use this way of thinking, we can become stuck, as I was, to some extent. I think the law of attraction has some value to it, but it must be kept in balance with other wisdom. I guess just about any piece of wisdom or advise falls apart if we don’t keep it in proper balance. For example, needing to forgive others is essential to our emotional and spirtiual health, on the other hand should that keep us from not seeking justice if someone has wronged us or a loved one? Would it be right for society not to punish those who break the law and just forgive everyone?
    With the example you gave about Michael Jordan, it seems that he consciously used the negative thought as a motivator, when he needed to press on with his practice. However if he was fearful of his thoughts, or had dreams of failure during the big games, would he have been as successful? I doubt it. What if he only remembered the shots he missed in practice during the big moments? It seems he was in control of the negative thoughts/day dreams and actually used them with the intent to motivate himself. Sometimes however we can have negative thoughts or day dreams and they put a fear reaction in us, cause we did not make the dreams from our conscious intent, the just seem to bubble up from our unconscious when we least want to have them. Even then, they are likely there for a reason. We just need to find the reason.
    I have found a guy who has some UTUBE stuff posted under the id Healing Magic to have some very insiteful information. He uses what he called faster EFT which is a combination of EFT, BSFF and NLP. I’m finding BSFF and NLP also to be very interesting as well. It seems the are many way to solve these challanges we face, and often we will do best using combinations of approaches.

  6. Great article. What I have found personally is that EFT can remove blocks to action.

    I work with an EFT practioner (Zoe Walton) to clear issues and get to my core issues. We did part of session on procrastination and it’s handmaiden perfectionism. Before that session (all of my life) I put off finishing things or couldn’t get myself to start things. Doing EFT on a memory from grade school has had a profound effect. I soon realized that I was finishing up projects that had been languishing and was starting new ones. I was also able to multitask my projects, thanks to EFT. The desire for action was always there but was blocked.

    I also think one of the most important ideas in your article is this one:

    “For the reality is that what CAN work for one person or some people doesn’t necessarily work for others.”

    Thanks for taking the time to write your newsletter.

  7. Steve,
    great articles. I’ve experienced this as a bit of a chicken and egg scenario at times. I’ve always been one to take action, but unknowingly having beliefs of not deserving success or believing failure will be the end result, seemed to cause me to take sabotaging action which brought about results that reinforced the often subconscious belief. I think it is necessary to work on the beliefs as well as take action as then it seems to produce action that brings about more success.

    One thing is for sure though, all the tapping, affirming and visualising in the world produces nothing if not accompanied by action eventually.

    Probably the key is to be aware enough to work out what action works and what doesn’t and then rejig the plan of action accordingly, treating all the no productive action as learning (r&d) rather than failures.


  8. I find it amazing that when the “Law Of Attraction” becomes the latest hype, then everyone is :”All Aboard” the LOA Express. Then later when the train does not take them to the desired destination, they then complain that perhaps I got on the wrong train to begin with and that the train is actually taking me further from where I want to be.

    What Abraham channeled through Esther Hicks is saying is this: “All the action in the world cannot make up for negative and misaligned thought.” I am not saying that action is not important, it is!!! But action performed in a state of depression or lack of belief in the desired outcome will fail miserably. Sure Michael Jordan took action and lots of it, but I gurantee that although he may not have believed 100% in his ability, he had many more beliefs in his ultimate success than he did in his failure.

    Steve Wells is not telling the entire truth here. There are some people “the minority”, that taking action is what is needed, while many more the majority need to first alter their beliefs somewhat and raise their self esteem to the point to where they have some positive expectation in the outcome. Taking action alone for action’s sake is a guaranteed path to failure. Even if you succeeded in temporarilty achieving what you desired, it would not remain for long because your true beliefs will sabotage it’s presence.

    I believe the majority of all therapy and coaching fails because the client is never really helped in the area of their beliefs and convictions. Telling someone to take action while they are still in a state of intense fear, anger, or depression is really a direct assault upon that person’s intergrity and being, ultimately pushing them furhter in the direction of despair and hopelessness.

    Wayne Williams

    p.s. but what do I know after 12 hospitizations in psychiatric hospitals and over 200 therapists?
    Brunswick, GA 31525

  9. The three things that are necessary in order to be successful at anything are Desire, Noledge and Action or DNA the building blocks of life. ( yes I know there is a K in knoledge but it does not sound so good)

    The action is sparked of from your desire, without the desire you will not put in any action and failure will occur.

    Putting in the wrong action will also end in failure but if you know where you want to be or go to then you will find the correct actions to get you there. In other words you will complete the triangle.

    Yes , action is most definitely needed but only the correct action will bring about the desired result hense the noledge part of the triangle.

    Take away any one of the parts and you will lose every time.

    This is why people fail , because they do not understand the relation between the three and that all three have to be in place. Just doing one or two is not good enough.

    A great article by the way. Phil Mottram MIAH

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