Jun 052017
 
Share

Risk-taking As An Entrepreneur – Are You Free Soloing?

How do you view the risk-taking that you do as an entrepreneur?

Do you feel like it is “all you” and any mistake you make could cost you your business and your financial future? Or, do you feel as though you’ve hedged your most important risks and built a support system that would act as a safety net to help you get through the inevitable mistakes that happen?

Yesterday, news surfaced that Alex Honnold had accomplished one of the greatest – and some would say most risky – climbing feats in history. He did a “free solo” climb of the almost 3,000-foot granite wall know as “El Capitan” in Yosemite National Park, in just under four hours! Free soloing means that he did the climb without the support of ropes or other climbing safety devices and without the help of other climbers.

It was just him, his climbing shoes and a bag of chalk hanging from his waste to help keep his hands dry.

How is that for risk-taking?

To the uninitiated, and to those unaware of the incredible climbing prowess and other free solo feats of Alex Honnold, such an accomplishment would sound unfathomable. Never mind the fact that it’s hard to wrap your head around someone having the physical ability to accomplish such a climb, but what about the nerves and fear that must creep into someone’s mind when they’re a couple thousand feet above the ground, climbing a granite rock face, with no safety gear?

Wouldn’t such a situation cause the mind to get caught in an endless loop of the worse-case scenario and freeze up like a late 80’s PC?

In Alex Honnold’s case, at least, the fear did not paralyze him and he was able to continue all the way to the top and accomplish a goal he’s had since he was a child. For him, the focus was not on risk-taking. Rather, the focus was on what he needed to do to reach his goal and accomplish perhaps (probably) the greatest feat climbing has ever seen and likely will ever see.

So, how did he control his thoughts and fears and how does such risk-taking map to what we as entrepreneurs have to navigate on an ongoing basis?

First, you have to say that on the surface, it’s difficult to compare the two, because unlike Alex Honnold’s free solo conquest of El Capitan, our activities on a daily basis as entrepreneurs are rarely, if ever, life or death. If we make a mistake as entrepreneurs, it’s unlikely that we will suffer the unforgiving nature of the laws of gravity, as Alex surely would.

Second, in our role as entrepreneurs, it’s unusual that we’ll be in a circumstance where we even figuratively speaking we have no safety net in place. Usually, in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, we design hedges and other safety valves in our financial, operational and marketing activities that allow us to avoid ‘bet the company’ decisions. This is not always true, of course, and sometimes through lack of planning or just simple bad luck, crises arrive or other situations occur that can put a company out of business. But, it’s rare that we consciously say, I’m going to bet the company on this decision, and in order to make it more challenging and more interesting, I’m going to purposely avoid hedging my bets, which is what Alex did with his free solo of “El Cap” and many other challenging rock faces previously.

Third, in addition to putting hedges in place, we usually have a strong support network that we build up over time as entrepreneurs and call on as needed when issues arise. If we don’t have such a network in place, we’re typically aware we should and work to build one over time.

So, if we’re typically not operating completely without a net in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, as Alex does in his free solo climbing conquests, how is what he does relevant to us as entrepreneurs?

Alex’s free solo climbs speak to a few things that are paramount to being successful as entrepreneurs: 1.) Being committed to what we’re doing, to the point where (figuratively, at least) we’d put our life on the line to reach our goals; 2.) Being prepared, so that we maximize our chances of success, even if what we’re trying to accomplish seems crazy to others; and 3.) Being focused exclusively on the task at hand, not allowing outside distractions to dilute our efforts as we strive to realize the vision that we have for our lives and our entrepreneurial ventures.

In terms of being committed, Alex Honnold has proven time and again that he is willing to put his life on the line to reach his free solo climbing goals. He doesn’t just talk about going out there and doing these climbs that heretofore were considered impossible. He goes out there and makes it happen. How committed are you to doing whatever it takes to make your entrepreneurial endeavor(s) succeed?

In terms of being prepared, Alex Honnold has worked his whole life to reach the point where he could free solo El Capitan. He’s honed his craft on safer, roped ascents. He’s spent countless hours preparing his body physically to withstand the fatigue that is sure to set in on such an endeavor. He’s scouted El Capitan and rehearsed in detail the climbing moves he’d have to make, particularly in the most challenging areas of the climb. He’s free soloed lesser, but still challenging other rock faces to prepare his mind and his body for the stress that comes with climbing “without a net”. This list goes on and on of the preparation Alex has done to maximize the odds that he could safely accomplish his objective. How would your business look if you did a similar level of preparation?

In terms of being focused, Alex knows that when he’s on a rock face with no safety equipment to catch him in case of a mistake, he must be 100% focused on the task at hand. In his case, that focus is quite literally a matter of life or death. How focused are you when you are involved in the key activities you know are vital to the success of your business? If you could be completely focused as Alex must be, how much further could you go as an entrepreneur?

Well, congratulations to Alex Honnold on his extraordinary feat of free soloing El Capitan. Here’s to learning the lessons of commitment, preparation and focus that Alex has modeled before and during this amazing accomplishment, and putting those to work in improving the odds of success in the risk-taking we encounter as entrepreneurs!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Share
Dec 292015
 
Share

Ideas Without Initiative – The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake

Do you have a lot of ideas “sitting on the shelf”? Big ideas. Small ideas. Million dollar ideas…

Take a moment to imagine yourself many years in the future, reflecting back on the life you’ve lived. You think about the things you’ve done, including the great moments you’ve spent with friends and family, the things you’ve tried, your great successes and your so-called failures. You also think about another category: the things you’ve never tried.  Ideas you’ve never pursued.

What do you think you’ll take the most pride and satisfaction in? What will you regret?

I’m sure the answer varies for each individual, but I also think there’s some commonality across all people. In talking with hospice nurses and in researching what people regret as they reach the end of their life, one thing always comes up: “the things I never had the courage or confidence to try”.

Think about it even at this stage of your life. What do you regret most?

For me, the answer already parallels what the hospice nurses and others have reported about people regretting toward the end of their lives: the roads not followed, the initiative not taken.

The title above is “Entrepreneur’s Biggest Mistake,” but I think this point applies to everyone, entrepreneurs and others. You do not want to look back at your life and regret the roads you did not take!

If you’re contemplating entrepreneurship and you haven’t been able to pull the trigger, stop worrying and go for it! Note, I am not saying don’t think your venture through as much as possible! I’m saying once you’ve done your research and your calculations, if all looks reasonably good, muster the confidence to take that step!

Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding. It can also be very challenging. There’s risk involved, of course, but if you’ve done your analysis, hopefully you have belief that the potential upside is commensurate with the risk.

So, what is likely to be holding you back?

I would be willing to wager that it’s not a lack of ideas. If it is, look harder – there are plenty of great ideas out there, some of which you may be able to convert into a profitable business.

If it’s not a lack of ideas and opportunities, what is it? In most cases, it comes down to the fear of failure! You’ve likely been successful in some areas of your life and you don’t want to put your self-image or the perception other people have of you at risk. You’re not willing to put it on the line or put yourself out there, as the saying goes.

Alternatively, you haven’t experienced much success to this point in your life, and you’re concerned that any new venture you undertake wouldn’t be any different. How can you change this perception and reality? Do your homework! Prepare. Don’t just wing it. Take a more diligent approach and you’ll increase your confidence and your likelihood of success.

Whatever you do though, make sure it’s not this: Nothing. Just thinking and then not following through with initiative and action will get you only one place: Nowhere.

Resolve to make this the year that you take action. Redefine “failure” as an opportunity to learn. If all doesn’t go exactly as planned, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward! Do your homework, then take that step!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but we’ve had a few get caught up in the filter..

Share
May 172012
 
Share

performance anxiety

How To Overcome Performance Anxiety

When you have to perform, regardless of where or in what endeavor, if there are other people involved, performance anxiety is a very common affliction.  In other words, you feel all sorts of stress and anxiety as you are preparing to perform and during the performance itself.  It happens in business, sports, acting, speaking, among a variety of other areas of life.

So, if you are afflicted with performance anxiety, what should you do?  In order to answer this question well, it’s important to first understand why performance anxiety happens in the first place.

One of the most important reasons for performance anxiety is that we become afraid that we will not perform well.  We think there’s a chance that our performance will not live up to our expectations, to those of people we care about, and to those of people in general.  This happens whether there is any physical danger involved or not.  I guess we can refer to this as “mental danger,” that is, the fear that our ego will be injured or that others will not think of us as highly.

There are, of course, situations where there is actual physical danger involved, and where a panic response can be triggered, which can have a profound effect on our performance.  Such a response, triggered via the amygdala in our brains, is not referred to as the “fight or flight response” for no reason;  it is a very strong response to fear, and in such a state of mind, concentration and optimal performance of tasks can be very difficult to make happen.  As I’ve written elsewhere, this effect can be seen very clearly in the exercises U.S. Navy Seals must perform as part of passing the Underwater Pool Competency test.

For the purposes of this article though, let’s get back to non-life-threatening situations where, as the saying goes, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  What can we do to overcome performance anxiety and increase the probability that we will perform well when the time comes?

First, it is important to be aware that we are experiencing performance anxiety and that it is something that we are foisting upon ourselves, due in great part to how we are thinking.

Second, it is key that we do a sanity check.  That is to say, it’s critical that we ask ourselves if we are perhaps overreacting to the situation.  We don’t need an answer at this point, but we have to at least leave the possibility open that we may be blowing things out of proportion.

Third, we need to try to think in relative terms about what we’re about to do.  We should put it on a scale, with say a walk in a safe park on a sunny day being the lowest level of stress and risk, to super dangerous activities (such as base jumping or being caught in the cross-fire in a war zone) being the highest level of stress.  Where does this activity we’re about to perform fit on that scale?  By doing this, we can try to keep perspective on the reality of how unnecessary our performance anxiety likely is.

Fourth, we should use a mental trick or two to lessen the level of stress in our minds.  For example, and you’ve probably heard this one, if you’re about to give a speech in front of a large group of people and you’re scared to death to step out on the stage, picture all of the audience members in their underwear!  That should give you a good laugh and lighten the mood a bit in your mind.  It should also loosen you up, so you’re not too stiff when you give your speech.

Fifth, there’s a strong likelihood that you are quite literally blowing things out of proportion in your mind.  That is, you are probably thinking about the negative consequences of not doing “well” or particular risk factors in extreme terms.  You are probably seeing them very large in your mind.  If that’s the case, you should see them very small or distorted or in funny colors.  In other words, you should manipulate, in your mind, the various images that are troubling you, until such point as they become funny or even ridiculous.

Sixth, you should “stay inside your mind,” focusing on your own thoughts, not worrying about what others may say or think about how you will perform.  The fact is that in many cases, we bring far too much stress upon ourselves, simply by worrying that we’re going to disappoint others and not live up to their expectations.  We get concerned about what they may say to us or about us.  If you are going to be an effective performer, in almost any endeavor, you need to get over this behavior.  Stay inside your mind and perform for your own reasons.  Make sure that you are OK with yourself and your actions.  Do not focus on critics or potential critics.  Focus on doing better by your own standards.

Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, be aware of and take control of your breathing.  There’s a good chance that if you have excess anxiety, you will be breathing too quickly and/or too shallowly.  Make sure you are taking good deep breaths and exhaling fully.  Slow your breathing down to the point where you feel more comfortable and more relaxed.  Just the act of taking control of your breathing can make a significant difference in keeping your performance anxiety manageable.

Eighth, and finally for now, if all else fails, remember that at some point in the future (presumably and hopefully, far in the future), our sun will run out of fuel and become what’s known as a Red Giant, then a White Dwarf.  When this happens (remember, we’re talking millions, or more likely, billions of years from now), I won’t bore you with the details, but the scenario will be very bad for Earth and the human race and the game (the big game) will likely be over.  Suffice to say that if the Earth even survives the sun’s transition to White Dwarf, it will be completely frozen over. When you look at your performance anxiety in the context of this massive and inevitable future event, it is likely to not seem like such a big deal.  I’m not saying to run around being “gloom and doom” and a downer for yourself or others, but I am saying that you really need to keep it all in perspective.  If you can do this, you’ll have your performance anxiety under control before you know it.

I look forward to your thoughts.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

Share
Feb 022012
 
Share

In Stressful Situations, Your Training Takes Over

In Stressful Situations, Your Training Takes Over

What happens to you when you get into stressful situations?  Do you freeze up like the proverbial deer in headlights, or do you keep going, unphased, “like a pro”?  Your answer to this question can have a profound effect on your ability to obtain the results you desire, when the going gets tough.

Why does one person freeze up, when the other performs “calm, cool and collected” in a stressful situation?  One need look no further than Special Forces military training to gain significant insight into the answer to this question.

As I wrote in the article Overcome Your Fears and Become Great – The GAMES Approach, fear, in its various forms and manifestations, is often the culprit in sub-optimal performance during stressful, critical moments.  Whether it’s fear of failure, of the unknown, or of a multitude of other possible factors, including success, it can cause additional tension and interfere with one’s ability to focus and succeed in the “stressful” task at hand.

One way the Navy SEALs, for example, deal with this issue in training, is to teach their trainees to focus on the present and not permit extraneous thoughts in moments of high stress and potential panic.  This involves creating very short-term and achievable goals, so that you are not overwhelmed by a bunch of irrelevant thoughts and concerns and can remain totally engaged in the task at hand. So, for example in the case of the Underwater Pool Competency Test that all SEALs must pass, when you are underwater and the instructor tangles your breathing apparatus, you don’t think to yourself, “I wonder what he’s going to do to me next…”, or “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take…”, or “I wonder how the candidate next to me is doing…”. Rather, you say to yourself, simply, my goal is to untangle these knots – nothing more and nothing less. You then say to yourself: I will employ the knot untangling procedure we learned in training, step-by-step. Then you execute step one, step two … etc.  In other words, you block out all extraneous thoughts and factors and focus totally on the task at hand, step-by-step.  This short-term goal-setting represents the “G” in the GAMES Approach.

This approach, of course, presumes that you have procedures and have had “training step-by-step”.  The reality though is that in many endeavors, including sports, but especially in the business world, a large percentage of people have not received such training, if they’ve received any training at all.  This is particularly true in the entrepreneurial, small and family business world.  Large companies have, at least in part, learned the important lesson that detailed training is key, particularly when employees will be faced with stressful situations, where there is potential to panic and “freeze up”.  Many entrepreneurial companies are still climbing that learning curve.

Think about your own situation as an entrepreneur.  How much detailed, step-by-step training have you had in key areas of your business?  Why do you think apprenticeship has been a tried and tested approach to groom next generation performers in a variety of endeavors, throughout history?  This is the case because as you’re going through the learning phase, especially at the beginning of the journey, there is nothing like having a “master” to help you stay on the right track and guide you regarding how to handle challenges, particularly those that occur in high-stress situations.  In an apprenticeship, the master “craftsperson” is roughly equivalent to a coach or a mentor.  In the military, such apprenticeship is hierarchical, structured, and mandatory.  What is the equivalent in entrepreneurship?  For the most part, it doesn’t really exist.  There are bits and pieces, but it’s highly fragmented and the onus is on the individual entrepreneur to seek such training.  Granted, it’s not necessarily practical or even possible to undertake step-by-step training in all areas and situations an entrepreneur must master, but for many key areas of the business, such as marketing and finance, it is both possible and reasonably straightforward.

So what can be done about this lack of step-by-step training and exposure to key knowledge in the entrepreneurial world?  There are several options:

1.)   Wing it.  This is by far the most common approach.  It involves just handling challenges as they come along and not really taking pro-active steps to train and prepare for the inevitable challenges that will arise.  This is the “experience is the best teacher” approach and it has a great deal of merit, but also a great many bumps and bruises along the way, hopefully none of them fatal to your business.

2.)   Find a mentor.  This is an approach I highly recommend.  I have used this approach my entire entrepreneurial career.  It involves identifying people who have done what you want to do and asking them to help you prepare for the journey and address acute challenges as they arise.  This approach can be tremendously useful, but given the fact that mentors are very busy people and probably you are not compensating them for their time, you are not likely to get structured, step-by-step learning; your mentorship will take place opportunistically and over a significant period of time.

3.)   Become an apprentice.  If you’re early, or relatively early in your entrepreneurial career, why not become the right-hand-person to a successful entrepreneur, thus taking advantage of the age old apprentice/master approach?  It won’t be easy, but there may not be a better way to learn, if you can find the right relationship.  If you’re in a good-sized family business, there may be several such opportunities available.

4.)   Be a learning animal.  Study, even devour, every bit of written and recorded knowledge out there on your business and all the functional areas of business critical to your success.  Operate with the mindset that you can never learn too much.  Consume everything from current publications to the classics, in whatever media suit you, including written, audio, video and live events.

5.)   Hire a coach.  All “pros” have coaches, no matter what level they’ve achieved in their chosen endeavor.  This will cost you some money, but if you get very focused on what it is you’re trying to learn and improve on, the dollars you invest here will likely be very well spent.  The key is to find a coach or coaches with whom you are very compatible, so that the communications are efficient and effective and not weighed down by logistical and personality challenges outside the realm of the subject matter you are trying to learn.

6.)   Join peer groups.  There are CEO peer groups, such as Vistage, and there are peer groups for almost every functional area of business.  In fact, by now, there are peer groups, online and in-person, for just about any topic.  Find one that suits you and give it a try.  Again, this will cost you some money, but it is also likely to be money well spent, if you can hook up with the right groups.  Peers who have been through the challenges and the stressful situations you are likely to face should be able to help you be better prepared for when they arise in your business.

7.)   Participate in masterminds.  Masterminds have been around in various forms for quite a while, but only picked up this moniker in relatively recent times.  Usually, these days, they mostly involve “mastermind calls” with people who are trying to accomplish goals similar to those you are pursuing.  They may deliver much of the same value as “peer groups,” and sometimes, they can do so much more efficiently, as they often consist of relatively short, focused calls.

All of the above approaches and activities can help you better prepare for stressful situations, the kind where you want your training, rather than fear and panic, to take over.

Regardless of which of these approaches you decide to pursue, try to do so in a structured manner.  As the GAMES Approach lays out, goal-setting is just the first step in dealing with high-stress, potentially panic-inducing situations.  You will also want to work on arousal control, mental rehearsal, endurance (which you build through practice), and positive self-talk.  For the Navy SEALs at least, such an approach has led to markedly higher pass rates in what many would say is one of the most stressful challenges of all:  the Underwater Pool Competency Test.

Be very calculated about what it is you are trying to learn, then use all the various methods at your disposal to learn it, so that it becomes like second nature.  While you are not likely to face life-or-death situations to the extent of Special Forces operatives, your performance in stressful situations may, in fact, determine the life or death of your business.  Take the same focused, disciplined and successful repetition-driven approach in your own training, and you are more likely to see your business grow and prosper.  Make sure you seek and master the training and knowledge you need, before you need it.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

Share
Sep 072011
 
Share

intensity

Intensity Is Good, But Control It

Early in my life, I only knew one level of intensity:  HIGH.  I grew up in a very competitive environment and no matter what I did, I had to win.  If not, it was not pretty.  I made it ugly for myself and for everyone around me.  This required me to be very intense all the time, basically living in a constant state of stress.  It was a double-edged sword, as that intensity allowed me to accomplish some things that I may not have otherwise, but it came at a big price.  Due to my level of intensity and competitiveness, I was unable to enjoy anything just for the sake of doing it.  When I look back, I think, “what a horrible way to go through every day”.

The good news is that with time, I’ve been able to learn to have different levels of intensity based on the particular situation at hand.  This transformation has been part standard maturation and part daily battle with myself to “lighten up,” except when it’s necessary to ratchet up the intensity.  Don’t get me wrong, by most standards, many would say I’m still pretty intense a lot of the time, but it’s nothing compared to what it used to be.  I think my wife and family would agree that I’m a little bit easier to live with now after this “transformation”.  The really good news is that this change to someone who is capable of what I like to call “dynamic intensity” has not lowered my productivity at all.  In fact, it has increased it, particularly in the area of creativity.  When I used to have just “one gear,” it was tough to get into a creative state of mind, as I was too busy “getting it done”.

The metaphor I like to use for this “dynamic intensity” is one I’ve heard attributed to the Navy SEALs, but I do not know if that is accurate.  I have not found an authoritative source that talks about its origins.  If anyone knows, please drop me a line.  The metaphor for “states of awareness” is color coded and goes like this:

Level White: I call it “zoned out”.  Living in your own little world, oblivious to what is going on around you.  This is basically a relaxed state with little presence of stress.  You can think of it as sitting on the couch watching a brain-numbing show that’s somewhat engaging.

Level Yellow:  This could be called “semi-aware”.  You know where you are.  You’re not “zoned out,” but there still is not much stress present.  You could think about it as being in the supermarket, where your biggest stress is whether you’re going to have a shopping cart accident with another shopper.

Level Red:  This is when you are very aware.  You have all your senses turned on and you’re paying attention to all of them.  You are assessing your situation to determine whether you need to act to protect yourself, either physically or in a business setting, verbally.  You can think of this one as walking down a dark street at night, alone, and hearing some noises that have you concerned.

Level Black:  At this level, you are in “fight or flight mode”.  It’s everything in Level Red, plus you are now acting based on your senses.  This is the primitive fight or flight response that fires up the amygdala and most likely sends a burst of adrenaline into your blood stream.  This state was covered in detail in another article I wrote about using the GAMES Approach to overcome your fears.  You can think of this one as being in that dark alley late at night and having someone walk up behind you and grab you around the neck.

I have found it very helpful to keep these four “states of awareness” in mind as I go through the day.  What I have found is that there is sometimes a tendency to perceive a situation as requiring a level of awareness much higher than it actually requires.  I have also found the opposite to be true, where it is tempting to not take a situation as seriously as you should and adjust your state of awareness accordingly.

One thing that has become crystal clear to me is that it is not healthy to always be in the same state of awareness.  It is very important to move between the states of awareness as needed, throughout each day.  Hopefully you will not have a lot of circumstances that cause you to go to Level Black, but if you do, then by all means ratchet up your awareness and be prepared to “do what you have to do”.

In my experience, many people go through most of their lives at Level White, never challenging themselves and thus never needing to change their state of mind from “zoned out”.  That’s a state I wouldn’t choose for myself or my loved ones, at least not on a constant basis, but “to each their own”.  We like to spend some time “zoned out” or “chilled out,” in order to relax from other more intense activities, but spending the majority of the time there would be unstimulating and boring, in my opinion.  Depending which activities and challenges I’m doing, I like to spend most of my time vacillating between Level Yellow and Level Red.  What I’ve become a lot better at with time is moving more easily between the levels and not carrying the “baggage” from the previous level with me.

How about you?  Where do you spend most of your time?  Do you find this metaphor helpful in thinking about controlling your “states of awareness”?

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but we’ve had a few get caught up in the filter..

Share
Aug 202011
 
Share

Just Remember: Hope Is What You Are Selling

If you would like to improve the results of your sales and marketing, just remember that hope is what you are selling.  There is very little certainty in life, so with every purchase we make, we are hopeful that it will give us certain results.

There is a deep psychological basis for this “hope,” which is rooted in what you often hear characterized as “people make decisions for two reasons – to avoid fear or to seek pleasure”.  If we explore this a little deeper, the avoiding fear piece seems pretty straightforward; it is, at least in large part, the famous “fight or flight response”.  The “seek pleasure” part is a bit more complex though, as the “pleasure” can come from an extremely wide variety of sources, including the simple hope that certain aspects of our lives will improve or we will get a feeling of comfort and peace, even if for just a short period of time.

Let’s look at a few examples of how we make certain purchases to seek the “pleasure” of hope for a certain feeling.  The first example would be buying and eating candy or junk food.  Why do we do it when we know it has no nutritional value and in fact can be very bad for our health?  We do it because we are hoping that it will give us a pleasurable feeling.  We hope that it will quickly satisfy our sense of hunger and relieve our headache caused by low blood sugar.  We hope that it will satisfy our “sweet tooth” or make us feel happy and soothe our anxiety when we’re depressed or upset about something.  We don’t do it for purely rational reasons; we do it largely for emotional reasons, as we are hoping it will give us a certain feeling.

Now let’s look at a much more expensive purchase:  a luxury car.  Why do we spend two or three times as much money on a luxury car, when there are other perfectly good cars that will get us from point A to point B just as quickly and as safely?  We do it because we hope that having such a car and riding around in it will make us feel good about ourselves.  We hope that it will give us a sense of importance and status in society.  We may also hope that it will give us a sense of exhilaration when we step on the gas pedal and go from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds.  We hope that having that luxury car will give us a wide variety of feelings that will make us happy.

We’ve talked about some products, but how about services, even business services.  Are they purchased based on hope as well?  Absolutely.  Just about every purchase that is made in the business world is also based on hope.  As I stated in the beginning, and as you are no doubt aware from your own experiences, there is very little certainty in life.  This is equally true in the business world.  Take, for example, the purchase of strategy consulting services, or coaching services.  What is the hope of the buyer of such services?  Depending on which class of services, the hope is likely for better performance of the business or of the particular executive contracting the services.  The contracting executive could also be hoping to alleviate the workload of his team and free them up for other tasks he hopes to focus on more.  In either case, the purchaser may hope that the improved results lead to a bonus for him or her.   That bonus would then allow them to make other purchases that they hope will give them other good feelings.  You see how the cycle continues.

So now that we’re talking about hope and expectations, we get to another very important point to bear in mind in your sales and marketing:  prospective buyers love testimonials.  Why is that?  Well, given that there is no true certainty that what you’re offering will give them the feeling(s) and results they hope to obtain, they want to hear stories of others who have used your products or services and enjoyed the exact results they are seeking.  This is often referred to as “social proof”.  It’s pretty straightforward, but often overlooked.  Prospective buyers are just trying to close the gap between hope and certainty.  They know they are unlikely to close the gap 100%, but they’d like to get as close as possible, before taking a closer look at your offering and ultimately, taking the risk and pulling the trigger on making a purchase.

This leads us to another fundamental point:  customers are buying benefits, not features.  This notion of hope can help us gain further understanding into why it is so important not to make the common marketing mistake of focusing on the features, rather than the benefits, of your offering.  Prospective customers simply don’t care about the features.  They want to hear about the benefits that are aligned with the feelings and results they are hoping to achieve by buying your product or service.

When you are planning and executing your marketing and selling, make sure you dig deeper to understand the hopes and aspirations of your prospective customer.  This applies equally whether you are selling to consumers or businesses.  Regardless of whether we’re talking about a bottle of perfume or a high-speed copy machine, every prospective customer has hopes attached to their potential purchase.  You must understand at as deep an emotional level as possible what those hopes and aspirations are, and you must then position your offering to be the one that best satisfies them.  If you approach all your marketing and sales from this “hope” perspective, you are likely to be very pleased with the results you achieve.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.  Leave a comment below.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com.

Share
Aug 102011
 
Share

“Tranquilo” – Always Remain Calm

We live in stressful times, but in fairness to our ancestors, so did they.  Throughout history, plenty of sources of stress have been present to make life “interesting”.  Granted, those stressors may have changed over time and perhaps multiplied, given the complexity of the world we live in today, but they have always been present.

So if there always have been and always will be plenty of sources of stress and anxiety in our lives, the question becomes how to deal with them.  In my experience, it’s useful to have a “go to” mantra or two for the moments when things get very tough and stressful.  Recently I wrote about another mantra I use for potentially fear-invoking situations that if not counteracted would lead to an amygdala-activated panic response.  That mantra was a Spanish expression, “sin miedo,” which means “without fear”.  It is a very common expression in Spanish and depending how you feel about it, can also become more of a general philosophy of life.

Another Spanish expression I like to invoke as a mantra in stressful situations, but usually not to the level of a “sin miedo moment,” is “tranquilo”.  Its literal translation is “calm,” but when you say it to someone in a stressful moment, you are telling them not to worry, or to remain calm.  It is used a lot in Spanish and Portuguese and I’ve adopted it as another mantra that I use like “sin miedo,” but usually in more common everyday circumstances.  If you have familiarity with Spanish and Portuguese, or you simply like the sound of these words, try them out for yourself.  If not, find your own “go to” expression or words that can serve as mantras you can use to keep yourself calm in stressful situations.  Having lived in Brazil and Costa Rica and having done business throughout Latin America my whole career, these words have special meaning for me and I’ve heard them a ton.  You may have others that have a great deal of meaning for you and quickly evoke the calm, relaxed feeling that is the objective.

Why is it important to have a mantra and other mechanisms to keep you “tranquilo” in moments when fear or anger may otherwise take over?  The answer is simple.  Usually, when fear or anger immediately precede or dominate your behavior, the person you harm most is yourself.  An obvious exception is when the “fight or flight” fear response is activated in situations that are truly life-threatening and this activation benefits you.  But the reality is that usually, even in such situations, which hopefully for you as for most are few and far between, it’s often very much to your advantage to remain calm and react rationally.

The mantra(s) I’m encouraging you to develop are intended more for situations where you perceive danger, but you perceive it in an exaggerated way that only serves to skew your judgment and hinder your performance.  In such situations, it’s useful to have pre-thought-out, automatic mechanisms for getting back on track and moving quickly away from your irrational and unnecessary fear or anger.

So, “tranquilo”!  Relax a bit.  Keep it all in perspective.  Stay calm and level-headed in stressful situations and you will see your performance and likely your ongoing level of happiness improve considerably.  Approach life “sin miedo” and take things in stride so you stay on track to reach all the goals you have set for yourself, while at the same time keeping a smile on your face. J

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

paul@CompanyFounder.com

www.CompanyFounder.com

 .

Share
Aug 052011
 
Share

Live “Sin Miedo”.  Without Fear.

There is an expression that is used frequently in Spanish:  “sin miedo,” which means without fear.  It is typically used in situations where someone is encouraging someone else to do something that may be a bit scary.  It is also a more general philosophy.

For those of you whom I’ve coached and those who have read a lot of my work, you’ll know I’ve written quite a bit about specific approaches to overcoming your fears and achieving peak performance in situations that otherwise could trigger a panic reaction and cause you to “run in the other direction”.  The piece on the GAMES Approach that focuses on techniques used by the U.S. Navy seals is a good example.  This article is not as focused specific techniques though; rather, it is about a more general “sin miedo” – without fear philosophy.

No matter who you are or what you do in life, you will run into “scary” situations – those that could cause you to freeze up or quit and run in the other direction.  If you are an achiever, which tends to describe well the vast majority of people with whom I work and associate, you will tend to run into these circumstances more frequently, as you are more likely to be “pushing the envelope” – that is how meaningful progress is typically made, after all.

If you are running into fear-invoking situations on a regular basis, you have two basic choices:  1.) You can go through life worrying when the next such situation may arise; and 2.) You can condition yourself and your mind to expect such situations to arise and welcome them as a challenge when they do.  You’d have to be crazy to welcome fear-invoking situations you say?  Not really.  The situations will arise regardless of how you choose to confront them.  Why not welcome them “sin miedo” and develop a spirit of embracing tough challenges?  Do you think such a mindset and approach may increase the likelihood that you will perform better in stressful situations and have less anxiety in general?  I assure you that it will.

So how do you program yourself to confront “scary” situations with unusual courage?  Well, there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that it is possible – you can train yourself to respond without fear, or at least without as much fear as normal, when confronted with “fear situations”.  The bad news is that in order to program yourself to respond in an “unnatural” way to anything, you must do so through conditioning.  You must train yourself to confront such situations “sin miedo” and the only way to do that is to put yourself in those situations over and over again, respond “correctly” each time and it will get easier and easier.  The “correct” response will be come your default response.

Note that I’m not telling you to put your life in danger constantly just so you won’t be as afraid when your life is in danger.  That can of course be useful, but it’s a bit extreme for what I’m trying to teach you here.  Here we are talking mainly about irrational fears – those that we over-inflate in our minds as being “life or death,” when if we were thinking about them rationally, we’d realize very quickly that they’re not.  An example would be the fear of public speaking.  I’ve heard (and witnessed), more than once, the crazy contention that most people fear public speaking more than death itself!  So that would be an example of an irrational fear that you need to confront “sin miedo” – it’s clearly not “life or death,” but many people make it so in their minds.  You can no doubt think of several others, particularly those that you confront personally.

Alright, that sounds fine, right?  Confront my fears “sin miedo”.  But how do I do it?  In my experience, the only way to do it is to take the plunge and do those things that you fear most.  It sounds great as an intellectual exercise, I know, but trust me that I know it is not so easy to pull off in practice.  It’s very helpful if you have a friend, mentor or coach to accompany you on your journey to operate without fear.  If that person has experience in overcoming particular fears, even better.  But most importantly, you must trust that person implicitly, so that when it’s “go time” and you have to take that difficult step in the direction of the stage (public speaking) or out of the airplane (heights, parachuting), for example, you can trust that they won’t steer you wrong.

In a previous article I used the example of my youngest son and his fear of heights and how he ended up loving and embracing the ziplining experience in Central America, where you soar over the rainforest canopy several hundred feet up in the air.  That example is a good one here too, as it illustrates the importance of having a guide or coach to get you through the tough part – taking the first step.  In that particular case, my son was literally strapped to the guide, so he knew that his safety was inextricably linked to the safety and knowledge of that guide.  This allowed him to quickly develop a trust and confidence level.  He then had the “experience of his life” and while he still has some fear of heights, that fear has been greatly diminished.  And by the way, after overcoming that fear and doing the ziplining experience, his confidence shot through the roof in many other aspects of his life.  That is a nice collateral benefit that often accompanies a willingness to confront and overcome fears, to live “sin miedo”.

A technique that works very well in learning to live without fear and embrace difficult challenges is to develop a kind of “personal mantra” that you use whenever fear and worry start to creep into your mind.  In my case, I actually use “sin miedo,” as it has a lot of meaning for me and evokes a visceral response to “toughen up” and confront whatever challenge it may be head-on.  This is not so dissimilar to the importance of short-term goals I covered in the article “Why Goal Setting Is So Important,” where I discussed how you can use a kind of mantra (in that case “202”) to help you access your willpower and push through situations where you’d otherwise have an overwhelming desire to quit.  The two concepts are highly linked, as they deal with your mind’s desire to avoid or end an uncomfortable situation or feeling.

What are your fears?  Do you live “sin miedo,” or do you go through life in a constant state of anxiety and fearfulness?  I guarantee you that if you are willing to confront your fears, whatever they may be, head-on and you can find someone you trust to help you work through them, your life will improve significantly and irreversibly.  If you cannot do this, there will be little that can help you break out of a constant state of stress, worry and anxiety.  You must take action to get this result.  It will not happen automatically.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

paul@CompanyFounder.com

www.CompanyFounder.com.

Share
Jun 272011
 
Share

Performing In The Zone

When you’re “performing in the zone,” or “treeing” as it’s sometimes called, it’s almost as if you can do anything. In business, sports or any other pursuit that requires skill and concentration, when you’re “in the zone,” it’s as if the action slows down in front of you. In that state of mind, you’re more focused, you can better anticipate what’s coming next and as a result, your performance is at a much higher level than you typically experience.

In sports we’ve all seen the seemingly magical performances where someone was “playing out of their mind,” like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant putting in 50 points or more in key playoff games and hitting buzzer-beaters to win crucial games. Where do these “in the zone” moments come from? It’s easy to say, “Well, that’s just Michael Jordan, or that’s just Kobe Bryant, or that’s just ___________[insert name of exceptional athlete],” but anyone who has played sports knows, it’s not just the big name superstars that get in these zones. Furthermore, these big name superstars are not “in the zone” all the time.

So, how does it happen? This will not be a post about how the brain works or other technical physiological jargon or concepts. Rather, let’s keep this to trying to think through how anyone can get “in the zone” or “tree” more frequently in their performances. What is the necessary ingredient or precursor to such “in the zone” performances?

The key ingredient typically present in “treeing” and other peak performance experiences is pressure. There is usually some significant pressure or stress present that causes the peak performer to enhance their focus and play at another level. If nothing else has changed in the physical or mental preparation or state of the athlete or other performer, what other than increased focus could be a major contributor to getting “in the zone”?

If stress, pressure and potentially fear are typically present in peak performance, “in the zone” or “treeing” scenarios, what else can be done in order to maximize the probably of a great performance instead of a dismal failure in such situations? In my opinion, it boils down to a couple of concepts we’ve covered elsewhere in the GAMES Approach to overcoming fears, particularly mental rehearsal and positive self-talk. Beyond the Michael Jordans and Kobe Bryants of the world, almost all top performers I know and have observed in business, in sports, and all other performance domains, use mental rehearsal (visualization) and positive self-talk to enhance their performance. This “virtual preparation” is in addition, of course, to the extraordinary physical and other iterative preparation they put in on the field, in the boardroom, or wherever their actual field of play may be.

Let’s review what the GAMES Approach to overcoming fears and maximizing performance entails. Here are the elements, which focus in on how the Navy SEALs are trained to overcome their fears in situations that could, instead of eliciting an “in the zone” performance, cause a panic response, which undermines and potentially destroys performance:

[G]oal-setting: This involves creating very short-term and achievable goals, so that you are not overwhelmed by a bunch of extraneous thoughts and concerns and can remain focused on the task at hand. So, for example in the case of the SEAL Underwater Pool Competency Test, when you were underwater and the instructor tangled your breathing apparatus, you wouldn’t think to yourself, “I wonder what he’s going to do to me next…”, or “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take…”, or “I wonder how the candidate next to me is doing…”. Rather, you would say to yourself, simply, my goal is to untangle these knots – nothing more and nothing less. You would then say to yourself: I will employ the knot untangling procedure we learned in training step-by-step. Then you would execute step one, step two … etc. In other words, you would block out all extraneous thoughts and factors and focus totally on the task at hand, step-by-step. Can you see how you could use the same approach with any fears you may have in business, sports or life?

[A]rousal Control: This element focuses mainly on breathing. Taking deeper breaths with longer exhales simulates the body’s relaxation response and helps to mitigate some of the effects that the Amygdala’s panic response can create. So, in the Pool Competency example, when the instructor tied your hoses or pulled your mask off, rather than immediately starting to try to breathe rapidly (which you couldn’t anyway if what the instructor did interrupted the air supply), you would calm your mind with a decent exhale and then calmly get to work on accomplishing your goals and following procedures to address the issue, step-by-step. The relaxed breathing is harder to do in this example underwater, but can you see how breathing in a more relaxed fashion in business, sports or the rest of your life, and remaining calm rather than immediately going into panic mode, could help your performance?

[M]ental Rehearsal: Often referred to as visualization, mental rehearsal involves running through in your mind whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, envisioning all the steps, then a calm reaction to any stress and ultimately, a successful outcome. Mental rehearsal is seeing yourself doing it over and over again successfully, as if in a movie. You can visualize the scenario from a first-person perspective, where you are seeing it through your eyes as you perform the actions, or from a third-person perspective, where it’s as if you are seeing it through the eyes of someone else who is watching you perform the task successfully. You should visualize the scenario in as much detail as possible, so it looks and feels as realistic as possible. There is a great deal of research out there that indicates that your mind has a hard time differentiating between a scenario vividly visualized and one that actually occurred. As one SEAL psychologist says, by performing this step of mental rehearsal, the first time you do something “in real life,” as far as your mind is concerned, it won’t be like the first time at all and you may have greater success controlling the panic reaction that typically would occur. While the process of mental rehearsal has been of great assistance in enhancing SEAL performance, can you also see how doing this could help you perform better in all your endeavors?

[E]ndurance: This element is a recognition that this pro-active approach to mastering the fear response is not something that will happen quickly. It is a war of attrition against your Amygdala’s fear response. You will have to have a great deal of endurance and determination as you do as many iterations as necessary to conquer your fear response(s) in your particular endeavor. You will need to commit to stay at it as long as necessary, bravely confronting and conquering your fears head-on, knowing that by doing so, you will greatly increase the probability of achieving greatness in your chosen endeavor. Your mantra should be: As long as it takes, as many times as it takes. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Commit ahead of time. Be brave. Do not give up until you conquer your fears and reach your objectives.

[S]elf-talk: As has been discussed and proven in many other contexts, the Navy SEAL commanders came to the realization that in becoming an effective Special Forces team member, what you say to yourself, particularly in times of stress, is very important. You can say as many as 1,000 words to yourself in a minute, but at a minimum, you are likely to say several hundred words. If you are filling your mind with negative thoughts, you don’t increase your chances of success; instead, you increase your probability of failure. Discipline yourself to focus on positive self-talk. Repeat encouraging phrases to yourself. Find specific phrases or words that are particularly calming for you, or particularly motivating for you. Use them constantly to prepare for scenarios and use them during scenarios that occur, in the “heat of the battle”. Be your own best fan. Be your own cheering section. Prove by your self-talk that you believe in yourself and in the probability that you will succeed. This will help you keep the stress response under control and it will help you succeed in every aspect of your life.

Use the GAMES approach to maximize the likelihood that in stressful performance situations, you will perform “in the zone,” rather than allowing the fear response to take over and “choking,” as so often happens to those who are not adequately informed and prepared.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

Paul Morin
paul@CompanyFounder.com
www.CompanyFounder.com.

Share
May 202011
 
Share

We all have fears. It is part of the reality of being human. Those who deny having any fears typically are lying or are not being honest with themselves.

The following comments are based on my work and research with athletes, business people and other elite performers such as Special Forces members. Further resources for information on this topic include many articles, books, audio and video works, including the 2009 History Channel documentary called The Brain. The GAMES Approach mentioned below is adapted from a Navy SEAL approach to dealing with fears, which was covered in the History Channel’s The Brain documentary.

Can fears get in the way of accomplishing your objectives? Can they keep you from becoming great at whatever it is you want to conquer? Absolutely! Fears can stop you dead in your tracks, quite literally. This is due to how the brain functions and sometimes this reality works to your benefit, particularly in the area of physical safety.

However, in the area of “mental safety,” fear can be a real problem. In the brain’s desire to protect you from the unknown and apparently dangerous, it can actually impede you from accomplishing your most important goals.

Rather than focus in depth on the physiological realities that cause you to stop “dead in your tracks,” I’ll give you a basic primer on what happens in your brain when confronted with “scary” situations, then we’ll quickly move on to what you can do about it, so that you can, to quote the Doors, “break on through to the other side”.

When you are confronted with a scary situation, in basic terms, your brain presses the “panic button”. The danger is perceived by your senses then makes it way over to the Amygdala, one of the regions of the brain that deals with emotion, where if the danger is perceived to be real and imminent, the brain starts a cascade effect of panic responses. Your heart beats faster, you breathe faster, your blood pressure rises, and if the level of panic is sufficient, chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into your bloodstream. The fight or flight system is thus activated and you’re in full panic mode, like it or not.

Unless the Frontal Lobes of the Cerebral Cortex can get the Amygdala’s panic cascade under control, or prevent it from occurring in the first place, the likelihood of pushing through your fears is quite limited. The Nervous System response and blood stream chemical effects are simply overwhelming. The problem is that research has shown that the sensory data arrives more quickly to the Amygdala than it does to the Frontal Lobes, where rational thought could potentially prevent the fear reaction from cascading out of control. Then how can the Frontal Lobes possibly prevent the Amygdala from reacting and triggering panic mode? Per The Brain documentary mentioned above, this was a question very much on the mind of instructors at the Navy SEALs Special Warfare Command in San Diego, California.

They came to the realization that they were losing a large number of potential SEALs from the training process due to one simple fact: they could not control their fear response.

Image of BUDS - Navy SEAL Pool Competency Training

Image by Official U.S. Navy Imagery via Flickr

This inability to control the fear response was most apparent in what’s called the Underwater Pool Competency Test. This is the test where SEAL candidates spend as much as 20 minutes underwater with SCUBA equipment, during which time they are constantly harassed by instructors. The instructors will turn off their regulators, tie their breathing gear into knots and generally make it difficult to breathe from the SCUBA tank for more than a short time. This harassment leads to a steadily worsening mental and physical condition and the candidates must do everything they can to resist the desire to surface for air. It is an incredibly strong desire that is extraordinarily difficult to suppress. The human brain has been hardwired to understand that breathing is absolutely fundamental, that we cannot breathe underwater, and without oxygen for any prolonged period, we’re dead.

So realizing that the Amygdala pushes the panic button, and further realizing that the only way to overcome this automatic response would be to get the Cortex/ Frontal Lobes involved, the SEAL commanders came to the conclusion that it was important to be pro-active and condition a “non-panic” response by repeated exposure to the “right” emergency procedures. What it boils down to is that the Cortex / Frontal Lobes cannot get involved “realtime” before the Amygdala at the moment the danger is perceived, as they receive the sensory input more slowly, so the response needs to be conditioned based on practice before any event that could induce panic. The candidates need to override their panic system, based on previously obtained and internalized knowledge and a set of step-by-step procedures and techniques. While there are more, SEAL instructors decided to focus on what they call the “big 4” techniques: Goal-setting; Mental Rehearsal; Self-talk; and Arousal Control. I have added a fifth, “Endurance,” and re-orderded them a bit to come up with the “GAMES” Approach to conquering your fears. Next we will touch on each of the elements of the GAMES Approach.

[G]oal-setting: This involves creating very short-term and achievable goals, so that you are not overwhelmed by a bunch of extraneous thoughts and concerns and can remain focused on the task at hand. So, for example in the case of the Underwater Pool Competency Test, when you were underwater and the instructor tangled your breathing apparatus, you wouldn’t think to yourself, “I wonder what he’s going to do to me next…”, or “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take…”, or “I wonder how the candidate next to me is doing…”. Rather, you would say to yourself, simply, my goal is to untangle these knots – nothing more and nothing less. You would then say to yourself: I will employ the knot untangling procedure we learned in training step-by-step. Then you would execute step one, step two … etc. In other words, you would block out all extraneous thoughts and factors and focus totally on the task at hand, step-by-step. Can you see how you could use the same approach with any fears you may have in business, sports or life?

[A]rousal Control: This element focuses mainly on breathing. Taking deeper breaths with longer exhales stimulates the body’s relaxation response and helps to mitigate some of the effects that the Amygdala’s panic response can create. So, in the Pool Competency example, when the instructor tied your hoses or pulled your mask off, rather than immediately starting to try to breathe rapidly (which you couldn’t anyway if what the instructor interrupted the air supply), you would calm your mind with a decent exhale and then calmly get to work on accomplishing your goals and following procedures to address the issue, step-by-step. The relaxed breathing is harder to do in this example underwater, but can you see how breathing in a more relaxed fashion in business, sports or the rest of your life, and remaining calm rather than immediately going into panic mode, could help your performance?

[M]ental Rehearsal: Often referred to as visualization, mental rehearsal involves running through in your mind whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, envisioning all the steps, then reacting calmly to any stress and ultimately, achieving a successful outcome. Mental rehearsal is seeing yourself doing it over and over again successfully, as if in a movie. You can visualize the scenario from a first-person perspective, where you are seeing it through your eyes as you perform the actions, or from a third-person perspective, where it’s as if you are seeing it through the eyes of someone else who is watching you perform the task successfully. You should visualize the scenario in as much detail as possible, so it looks and feels as realistic as possible. There is a great deal of research out there that indicates that your mind has a hard time differentiating between a scenario vividly visualized and one that actually occurred. As one SEAL psychologist says, by performing this step of mental rehearsal, the first time you do something “in real life,” as far as your mind is concerned, it won’t be like the first time at all and you may have greater success controlling the panic reaction that typically would occur. The process of mental rehearsal has been of great assistance in enhancing SEAL performance; can you also see how doing this could help you perform better in all of your endeavors?

[E]ndurance: This element is a recognition that this pro-active approach to mastering the fear response is not something that will happen quickly. It is a war of attrition against your Amygdala’s fear response. You will have to have a great deal of endurance and determination as you do as many iterations as necessary to conquer your fear response(s) in your particular endeavor. You will need to commit to stay at it as long as necessary, bravely confronting and conquering your fears head-on, knowing that by doing so, you will greatly increase the probability of achieving greatness in your chosen endeavor. Your mantra should be: As long as it takes, as many times as it takes. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Commit ahead of time. Be brave. Do not give up until you conquer your fears and reach your objectives.

[S]elf-talk: As has been discussed and proven in many other contexts, the Navy SEAL commanders came to the realization that in becoming an effective Special Forces team member, what you say to yourself, particularly in times of stress, is very important. You can say as many as 1,000 words to yourself in a minute, but at a minimum, you are likely to say several hundred words. If you are filling your mind with negative thoughts, you don’t increase your chances of success; instead, you increase your probability of failure. Discipline yourself to focus on positive self-talk. Repeat encouraging phrases to yourself. Find specific phrases or words that are particularly calming for you, or particularly motivating for you. Use them constantly to prepare for scenarios and use them during scenarios that occur, in the “heat of the battle”. Be your own best fan. Be your own cheering section. Prove by your self-talk that you believe in yourself and in the probability that you will succeed. This will help you keep the stress response under control and it will help you succeed in every aspect of your life.

So there you have in a nutshell the GAMES Approach to overcoming fears and achieving your goals and “greatness” in all areas of your life. Don’t limit yourself to one or two of the elements of the Approach; use all five. Use them pro-actively and use them together, in concert. Some fear responses are so strong that they will overwhelm anything but a coordinated effort to make sure that your rational Cortex wins out over your emotional, panic-prone Amygdala. In the effort to control the fear response and increase the probability that you will accomplish your objectives and become great in your chosen endeavor, you need all the reinforcements and coordination you can get.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

Paul Morin
paul@CompanyFounder.com
www.CompanyFounder.com

Share