The mental strategy that helps average performers move to high performers

January 31

High performers don’t see self-doubt and insecurity as negative things. Perhaps they once did. And that’d be normal and expected too.

But they’ve come to realise through experience that fears, doubts and insecurities never go away.

And nor should it. 

It’s part of the human experience. A tool that has allowed us to survive and thrive.

They’ve learnt that trying to change or fight their inner voice of self-doubt, leads to more of it. They’ve learnt that this approach creates more self-doubt and more overwhelm.

But if this sounds like you. Don’t beat yourself up.

With some simple tools, you can also move from average performer to high performer.

Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are interconnected with our experiences in childhood and events that have happened. Much of them are hidden and unconscious. We don’t realise they are happening.

High performers don’t feel comfortable in uncertainty. They haven’t suddenly mastered the ultimate skill of being exempt from insecurity.

That’s a form of ignorance.

Instead, they’ve learnt that embracing discomfort is the only option for overcoming fears.

They’ve learnt mental strategies like elite athletes they can use each day. A routine they can rely on to manage the uncertainty, volatility and change each situation brings.

What happens when we seek comfort? We find our partnership with avoidance.

That term we’re all familiar with. The act of escaping a situation which momentarily takes away the feeling of discomfort. Difficult conversations, to-do lists or hard workouts.

What happens when we embrace discomfort? We take courageous action and when we take action, we create opportunities that wouldn’t be available if we’d listened to the voice of self-doubt.

Yet, just like empathy is a skill we can all develop, so is courage.

But how do we develop it?

We can start by making a subtle shift from listening to noticing.

Shifting from listening to our inner voice to observing our inner voice.

The difference?

Listening to our thoughts such as “this is so difficult“, “my opinion does not matter” and “I feel so overwhelmed” will lead to avoidance.

And when we avoid things, it creates more unhelpful thoughts.

Frustration and guilt that you’ve done it again. An unhelpful trap I fell into many times previously. It cost me time, relationships and money.

When we listen to our thoughts, we become our thoughts.

We then identify ourselves with labels such as “I am a lazy person”, “I am stupid” and “I am procrastinator”.

When we listen to our own stories, we become the character within them. It is a vicious self-perpetuating cycle.

Noticing is a subtle yet distinctly different approach.

Rather listening and becoming our stories.

We can create space between our feelings/thoughts and our response by noticing.

Noticing means we become aware of our stories. But we don’t act on them. Noticing allows us to find our choice in how we want to respond. Rather than our stories dictating the terms of reference.

You are not your thoughts. You become the ones you act on. 

Noticing allows you to nurture the ability to press the pause button.

That pause creates a space between unhelpful thoughts and avoidance behaviour.

So, you’ve created the pause, now what?

The pause button can help you to:

  • Send that email to your boss which sets you up for asking for a pay rise, rather than listening to the thought ‘I’ll send it next week’… (and never do it). 
  • Get you out of bed in the morning to do the workout you promised last night, rather than listening to the thought ‘I’ll do it later that day or tomorrow’.
  • Send an email to that person you respect and admire to pitch an idea, rather than thinking ‘I’m not good and they’ll never respond’, resulting in a missed opportunity. 

It’s the subtle difference between listening and noticing that allows you to act on the thing you might have avoided.

That’s the small difference that could change your life for the better.

My ‘overcome imposter syndrome and build courage’ course teaches you theory and practical application of building a psychological toolbox of skills to overcome your inner voice and take action, in a safe and supportive way, with other amazing like-minded people.

The course starts on 14 February. All the details are here.

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