Knowing your self-talk lets you change how you perceive and influence your world more than almost anything. That knowledge helps you understand and influence how your team members, peers, bosses, and so on perceive their worlds. It’s a powerful lever.
Your beliefs affect how you perceive your world. Everything you observe gets filtered through your beliefs. If you think Bob is a jerk, you will filter everything you see about him through your beliefs. If you believe you can’t do something, like you have a dead-end job and can’t do anything about it, or you’re no good at meeting people, or you can’t be more effective or more happy, and so on, you well see everything through that filter.
Alternatively, if you believe something like anything someone else can do so can you, you’ll see everything through that filter.
Changing your beliefs will change how you perceive your world, which effectively changes your world. Wouldn’t you prefer to live in a better world than the one you life in? Wouldn’t you, as a leader, rather be able to influence how others see their world? Coaches do this. Especially in sports, for example. Great ones get their players to contribute more as individuals and align more as a team.
Business leaders do the same thing. They get their teams on the same page and contributing more.
How do you change your beliefs and those of others?
I come back to this periodically here because I work with clients on making their beliefs more flexible more than anything else. They know they can change their environments and behavior, say with willpower, but they often think their beliefs are fixed.
It’s not that they don’t want to change their beliefs. Sometimes they aren’t even aware of their beliefs, or they confuse their beliefs with absolute reality, somehow not noticing others may have different beliefs.
So step one for changing beliefs is to be aware of them.
Same with influencing others’ beliefs. You have to start with awareness. Then you can move to influencing them, which I’ll cover more tomorrow.
Self-talk and beliefs
Your self-talk is one of the main ways beliefs occur and influence you or whomever you’re working with. When you aren’t aware of your self-talk, you miss how your beliefs filter into behavior. That’s why I wrote out some self-talk yesterday’s post and the day before. I didn’t just write it for fun or so you knew about it. I wrote it as a tool for knowing you how and everyone works so you can change yourself and influence others.
People unaware of their self-talk don’t know their beliefs or how to change them. Say you are nervous to talk to a guy or girl you like, or maybe to approach a new sales prospect at a trade show. If you asked them what they were thinking about, most people would say they didn’t know; that their mind was blank.
It wasn’t blank. Your mind is never blank. It was more likely saying something like
I wish I knew what to say. I should just go up and talk to them. But I always say the wrong thing. If only I knew what to say. Now I waited too long. They’ll probably think I’m weird after not saying anything for so long. Just go say something. Nobody else is talking to them. God, I’m so pathetic.
Do you see the beliefs in that self-talk? “I always say the wrong thing,” “I waited too long,” “I’m so pathetic.” Your thoughts aren’t blank. They’re the opposite. They’re overwhelming you — with counterproductive thoughts.
That’s one of the main ways beliefs influence you. People don’t notice it and it’s huge. It’s huge both in how prevalent and pervasive the effect is and huge in how big a lever it gives you to change yourself and how you perceive your world.
Using self-talk to change beliefs
Once you see those beliefs you can change them. I don’t recommend choosing their opposites, like “I always say the right thing” or “I didn’t wait long enough.” I recommend complements, usually thoughts taking responsibility, like “With practice, I’ll learn to say the right things. For now I’ll practice. If I make mistakes I’ll learn from them” or “Waiting this long doesn’t hurt my chances, it just changes how I should approach.”
If you haven’t done the exercise to write out your self-talk for a week, I highly recommend it. It costs no money and no more than a few minutes a day for a week.
If you’re thinking
Maybe I should do it. Well, he already wrote out a few examples. I can tell what self-talk is like without actually doing it myself. I’ll just think about it a few seconds and that will give me an idea. Well, maybe I should. Nah, when I think of doing these things I never quite get around to them. The funny thing is, when I finally do do them, I learn so much…
or something like it, but you wouldn’t be able actually to write something like that out, do it. Read that post and do it.