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.
Aren’t 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: