Monday, 8 November 2010

Banish The Doubt - Part 2

By the time I have concluded this essay, you will have stopped committing a crime against yourself that you didn’t even know you were committing – the crime of subconscious self-sabotage. It is a psychological phenomenon positively rampant in our culture today, and most obvious in England’s performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where some very talented individuals simply did not translate their talent into success. If they undeniably had the talent, there can only be one reason they failed, and that was due to what was going on in their heads.

Clearly, there must be something more to this positive thinking lark than the standard stuff people are taught, and by the end of this essay, you will have that missing piece from the puzzle, the techniques that will blow away those mental barriers you didn’t know you had.

I’d like to begin with a common analogy used in business coaching circles, and it’s often used as a “closer”. I however am going to use it as an opener. It concerns a £20 note:
Would anyone like this nice new £20 note?
Would anyone like this scrunched up £20 note?
Would anyone like this £20 that I’ve trodden on?

The answer of course is YES to all three because no matter where it’s been it’s still worth £20. Similarly, no matter what has happened to you in your life, no matter how much failure, rejection and betrayal you have suffered, you are still of value, you still have worth, you can still make a difference.

That’s great, and you can accept that intellectually and logically. But there’s a flawed assumption in the fundamental idea of positive thinking, which I will come to shortly, but before I do, let’s look at the theory of positive thinking itself.

All positive thinking coaching boils down to one statement – I heard it first as a child and it’s annoyed the hell out of me ever since – think happy thoughts. If you think happy thoughts you will feel happy, behave happy and consequently your life will be happy. Fantastic, if it works. Of course, on many a coaching course, this simple message is delivered in a more sophisticated manner. You get told that there are many thoughts going on in your head at any one time. Some of these are positive and some of these are negative. You give your attention to the positive thoughts, focus on them and you will feel positive, you will behave positive and your whole life will become positive.

Of course positive thinking is not without some merit. Some people can follow these guiding principles and sure enough they improve. I have found myself that focusing on positive thoughts helped, and took me so far, but having developed to a certain point, I found I was hitting walls.

I found that certain people had the ability to push all my negative buttons and turn me into a rage monster or a gibbering tongue-tied failure despite all my training. I found that some contexts and situations I could not handle, again despite all my training, and I started to observe quite a few business gurus “lose it” as well. I observed sports stars that had top coaches who were nevertheless underperforming in certain situations. But the event that had the most profound effect on my thinking was Gerald Ratner and his famous “my products are crap” speech. How could such a successful talented businessman make such a crass mistake with all his knowledge?

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