By Jamie Crosbie
When you hear the term “a peak performance mindset,” you may naturally think about NFL football players, steely-eyed fighter pilots, nationally-known sales gurus, or the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Maybe it works for “them”…but they are gifted or talented stars, powerful, rich, or fill-in-the-blank – and you feel you have nothing in common with them.
While it is true that many successful athletes and top sales performers use mental techniques to boost their performance, like most skills, it can be learned. Here’s how.
Use Your Mind to Change Your Mind
It is true that some people may be more initially gifted in one area or another. It is equally true, though, that they have simply practiced more. A person may be gifted in sports, for instance, but they are unlikely to move into professional status unless they couple that desire with practice. It is not just talent, but drive and relentless practice that move us forward.
Daytime television is famous for its love of makeover shows. Some fashion-challenged person is carefully made over, giving them a new look. They may have gone in wearing oversized tee shirts and baggy sweats, but they come out looking more like runway models. Think of developing a peak performance mindset as a mental makeover that changes your life – from the inside out.
Scientists exploring the depths of this changeability call it “neuroplasticity.” It means the structure of the mind is like plastic – more malleable than rigid, welded-in-place iron girders that cannot be changed. Many studies have consistently shown that reframing the way you think about circumstances and challenges activates new neural connections. As it turns out, neurons form cerebral shortcuts, building stronger and stronger connection the more often they are used, until they become the default setting.
In a way, they are like rabbit trails; the more times you mentally walk through a given scenario, the more tramped down the path becomes – and the more likely you are to use that path again. It does take effort at first, but, as you learn the skills, it becomes easier and easier to change the way you process information and respond.
The Power of Not Yet versus a Final Grade of F
In one study, described in The New York Times, many students in the Harlem school districts consistently saw poor grades in many areas. At first, some children in the program were so unfocused they were unable to even hold a pencil correctly. After mindset training, however, they were able to see challenges not as dead ends or failures but as a progression to something more.
This is more than a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full mindset; it is a realization that the glass is, and always will be, refillable.
They were taught that setbacks and failure were more like speed bumps than actual failure. When, for instance, seniors who were required to pass certain tests and classes were given a “not yet” grade rather than an “F,” they were able to repair bad grades with tests; they progressed faster. The results? The very same students who could not hold a pencil, much less read, started breaking academic records as they grew – scoring higher and higher in national and state tests, moving past the 95th percentile.
As a sales professional, you know you sometimes have to grind through a tsunami of contacts, searching over and over until you hit the sweet spot and clinch the sale. Afterwards, the same treadmill starts up again, and you move through the entire process again. Successful salespeople accept this as part of the process.
They know it really is a numbers game and that you may have to knock on 1,000 doors before winning the prize. Or, fate may seem to take a liking to you, and you need to knock only on 100 before hitting a career-making hot-streak. Either way, seeing challenges as a launch point rather than an endpoint can help you push through the down times. You have to be willing to reframe things so failure is merely a “not yet” rather than a permanent failing grade. When you can do that, you develop success as a habit.
Jamie Crosbie is CEO and founder of ProActivate, LLC, and has 20 years of experience in sales leadership and the talent acquisition industry. A certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer, Jamie helps companies of all sizes increase their sales productivity by training them to think – and therefore act – differently. Contact her today to learn more – firstname.lastname@example.org or 214/720-9922.