One of my goals for 2011 is to develop my blog writing skills and to help me do that I am working with Chris Bown of Marketing International. Chris has sprinkled his copywriting magic dust over the blog I wrote a few weeks ago called “why are you thinking that?” and now you can read this below and see if you can spot the difference!
Is your self-talk holding you back?
Every year thousands of new businesses start up, and also every year thousands of business unfortunately close – but have you ever wondered why some businesses are successful and others aren’t? One of the factors, I believe, is to the business leader’s attitude.
Now, attitude covers a very wide spectrum of issues, but the one I want to deal with here is self belief – and perhaps more specifically the ‘chatter’ that goes on inside your head which just might get in the way of you believing in yourself 100% of the time.
Self talk goes on in your head all the time. It is not normally something we think about, it just happens, but it happens constantly. And that little voice inside our head can sometimes be very useful – like when you are just about to say something inappropriate and it says “STOP, if you say that then…..”. However, on other occasions your self talk may not be as helpful – and it might actually be holding you back. Importantly, it can be quite easily read by others.
How can self talk be readable by others? Well it is down to body language – your body actually responds to do what you are saying and thinking – so you have to make sure that you are sending it the right messages. Your self talk needs to be positive, if you are going to be portraying a positive message.
The impossible four minute mile
This true sporting story really demonstrates how self talk can hold you back. Back in 1954, nobody had ever run a mile in under four minutes. And the scientists of the day insisted it was impossible – even if a man could run a mile in under four minutes, then his internal organs would explode. It is hardly surprising that nobody had run a 4 minute mile because of the self talk an athlete had when he went to run: “Nobody has ever done this, it is impossible and if I did did achieve this then I might die!”
Roger Bannister had total belief that he could run a mile faster than four minutes, and that this would not cause any harm. Roger’s belief was so great and he was so determined that on the 6th May 1954 he broke the four minute mile, with a record breaking 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. In the sporting world, this was phenomenal after decades of athletes trying. Whilst that was amazing in itself, what is even more incredible is that just 46 days later, this record was smashed by John Landy who ran a mile in 3min 57.9seconds. And then within three years, by the end of 1957, 16 other runners also cracked the four minute mile.
This incredible story clearly demonstrates how we are limited by our own beliefs – and if we dispel these beliefs, then anything is possible.
Take the example of when you are doing your elevator pitch, or a presentation. How often have you delivered an overview of what you do, only to sit down and think “Darn, I didn’t say ‘x’”, or you beat yourself up about how or what you did say. Perhaps if it did not come out quite as you had planned, your self talk will be negative as you retake your seat – and you can be sure that your body language is too.
Self talk hinders sales performance
So, what is really going on inside your mind when you approach a specific situation where you might not feel entirely comfortable? Many of us think we are poor at selling, or feel uncomfortable selling, so let’s take a look at this example of what typically happens when “closing the sale”.
Imagine you have covered all the foundations with the prospect, you have understood their needs and offered a potential solution. Are you thinking to yourself……
“Of course the prospect will buy because, to be honest, why wouldn’t he with all the benefits that he will enjoy if he uses my product or service?”
“I’m not sure if he is going to buy, after all it is quite expensive and there are lots of other alternatives on the market, and perhaps he hasn’t got any money anyway.”
In this situation, you could ask the prospect exactly the same question: “Would you like to buy?” But depending upon your self-talk, your body language will be saying completely different things, transmitting either confidence that the prospect will buy, or doubt that they will be interested.
There are many other situations where your self-talk will have an impact on the outcome. Perhaps you will recognise some of the following….
- When you are asked to do something new and unfamiliar
- When you are inviting someone to an event
- Picking up the phone to a customer or prospect
- Writing an email to a customer, supplier or prospect
- Making an important decision – or perhaps making any decision!
- Delivering a presentation
In each of these situations you will have self talk which can either make you feel more or less confident. Some of the examples of self talk which might make you feel less self confident are as follows….
- What if they say NO, I will feel rejected
- What if they ask a question I can’t answer
- I am not sure if I have the skills to really do this
- These people are pretty clever, they might know more than me
- I am not really good enough to do this
- I am not really worthy of being successful
Each of these statements are damaging your confidence in delivering whatever you are doing. You can’t stop your self-talk and nor would you want to, however there are lots of things that you can do which can turn this to your positive advantage, and eliminate self-chatter which may hold you back. Here are just a few of the things that you could do to help you in these areas:
- Be prepared by researching your topic, being clear on benefits
- Be confident – understand what you are really good at and remind yourself
- If you have a gap in skills do something about it – learn new skills
- Be really clear on the outcome you desire and the impact that will have (or the negative impact or not doing it)
- Understand and accept that “No’s” are not personal, they are in fact an essential part of moving the business forward – each no gets you nearer the next yes
- If a task seems too big, then break it into smaller, more achievable components
Your self talk toolbox
I believe that you should equip yourself in the most effective and efficient way possible to enable you to be successful. Create yourself a toolbox of resources that will help you, if your self talk starts to work against you. Examples of what you might have in your self-talk toolbox:-
NLP techniques – these provide some really useful ways to overcome fears
Coaching resources – some techniques on how to approach specific situations
Books – there are many covering self talk and positive thinking
Process and approaches to situations – methods to break down tasks into smaller steps, making it easier to progress
Passion and desire – check in with yourself, if you haven’t got the passion and desire to succeed for the specific issue you are handling, then you need to think again.
Act for greater success
This is a very big topic which can have a massive impact on your self belief and desired outcome. My final recommendations for you are:
1. Become conscientiously aware of your self-chatter – both positive and negative
2. Take clear specific steps to deal with negative self talk
3. If you are having difficulties with overcoming negative self-chatter, talk to someone who can help you with this.
Good luck and I hope your self talk is now telling you …. “Wow what a fantastic blog, I really must post a positive comment on here!”