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Most of us sabotage ourselves by saying things that result in the subconscious doing the exact opposite of what we want to achieve. We focus on what we don't want and are surprised when that's what we get.
This is bad enough at the personal level but when it happens at an organisational level it can be really costly.
Your subconscious is a powerful friend but it can also be a powerful enemy. Many people don't realise that what they focus on is what the subconscious will deliver. Focus on problems and you'll get problems. Focus on opportunities and you'll get opportunities.
The image in the unconscious mind is what drives behaviour in the body. It's like a massive computer working away in the background getting the body to deliver on whatever image it has of us. If the subconscious mind has a strong positive image of us it will work away in the background finding a way for the body to move towards that image. If the image is negative it will work equally effectively to deliver the negative image.
The subconscious can only deal with images. Statements framed in the negative form simply don't register in the subconscious. This is why constant nagging like "Stop biting your fingernails!" will produce the exact opposite - the subconscious will form an image of biting fingernails then use all its power to get the body to fulfil this image.
This is why it's so important to create positive mental images of ourselves. The image should be as big as we can make it because the subconscious has no way of knowing whether it is realistic or not. If we ask for the moon then the subconscious will obediently start working with all its huge capacity to find ways for the body to obtain the moon.
Most of us have negative images of ourselves largely because the people we trusted most have tried to 'fix' us with words like: "Don't be so messy". "You're always late". "Don't bite your fingernails". "Don't be so naughty".
Internal imprinting is even more destructive. Our self talk is vitally important to the mental images we carry about ourselves and most of the time we are making the negative images even stronger with self talk like: "I'm hopeless at names". "I'm no good at maths". "I'm always late".
None of this is very new. At an individual level we all know this stuff, however, at an organisational level it has been largely ignored. In my work I find that establishing the right images in the 'mental subconscious' of an organisation is vital to success.
In all organisations there is some stuff that's bad and there is some stuff that's good. Usually what's good is far bigger than what's bad and within the good stuff there's some that's brilliant. The trick is to identify what's brilliant and amplify it. Most managers do the exact opposite - they focus on the bad and start a vicious downward cycle.
Organisations change in the direction in which they inquire. An organisation that inquires into problems will keep finding problems but an organisation which attempts to appreciate what is best in itself will discover more and more that is good. It can then use these discoveries to build a new future where the best becomes more common. Change is far easier, quicker and occurs with less resistance if we can capture and carry forward those things that are already working well.
It's so important to create a positive mental image of what we want to achieve before we start. The picture should be as big as we can make it. The image has to be vividly clear, then the body will deliver. This is why Daniel Carter takes on that glazed look as he visualises the ball sailing between the goal posts before every attempt at goal.
It's counterproductive to start a creative session thinking about issues and problems or even to start off thinking about where we are at present because the picture created will be of the current problems, current assets, locations and products rather than the dreamed of assets, locations and products.
At a personal level it's not easy to get appropriate images into your subconscious. It's even more difficult to get the appropriate images into the subconscious of an organisation. This is where my experience is as strong as anyone in the country so if you'd like to discuss your progress please give me a call on 0800 4 virtual. I look forward to hearing from you.
The Next Strategic Snippet will examine some of the tools you can use to make your subconscous a friend rather an enemy - at both a personal level and at an organisational level.
Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.
Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.
One of NZ's most experienced change agents.