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 CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. Maybe it works for “them”, but they are gifted, or talented stars, powerful, rich, or fill-in-the-blank that you feel that you are not. While it is true that many successful athletes and top sales performers do use mental techniques to boost their performance, like most skills, it can be learned.
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 may be person 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 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 that the structure of the mind is more like a malleable plastic, than rigid, welded-in-place iron girders which cannot be changed. Studies have constantly shown that reframing the way you think about circumstances and challenges activates new neural connections. AS it turns out, neurons form cerebral short-cuts, 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 more and more easy to change the way you process information and respond.
The Power of Not Yet versus a Final Grade of F.
In one study, many students in the Harlem inner 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, they were able to see challenges not as dead ends or failures, but rather 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 speedbumps than actual failure. When, for instance, seniors who were required to pass certain tests and classes were given an “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 that you sometimes you have to grind through a tsunami of contacts, searching over and over until you hit the sweet spot and cinch the sale. Afterwards, the same treadmill starts up again, and you move through the entire process again. Successful sales people 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 to before winning the prize. Or, fate may seem to take a liking to you, and you only need to knock on 100 before hitting a career making hot-streak. Either way, seeing challenges as a launch point rather than an end-point can help you push through the down times. You have to be willing to reframe things so that failure is merely a “no 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. Previously, she served as vice president of sales at CareerBuilder, where she successfully led a team of 80+ people and exceeded her revenue goals on a quarterly and annual basis. Her sales business experienced 50-85 percent revenue growths annually. Join her at the ,Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on November 14, where she will participate in a panel discussion, “Innovative Ways to Help Reps Reach Peak Performance Levels.”