Evolution through Coaching
Strategy. Adapting. Change. Performance.
Your mindset determines your success, in any walk of life or aspect of your own life, at home and at work. Your mindset evolves throughout your life and can change from situation to situation. It is made up from many parts, including your experiences (and how you think about them), your thinking style, your attitude, your values, your beliefs, sense of purpose, focus of attention and so on. A large part of your mindset is stored within your non-conscious brain - the part that manages your habits, the things you can do without thinking so you free up brain space for things you do need to concentrate on.
You have learned your mindset throughout your life so far, which is why you can learn to change it too. First, you just have to raise it to conscious awareness, notice how your mindset is controlling your thoughts, actions and habits - both good, what is constructive for you now, and those that are not constructive for you now (even though they probably were when you first learned them).
Did you know that professional and elite athletes attribute 90 – 95% of their success to their mindset. Even though we imagine that when athletes compete, it is their sports skills that are most important, the athletes themselves say the most important part of their success is their mindset, which includes their confidence in their abilities and their confidence that they can win. Two recent examples of this are Mo Farah and Andy Murray. Mo Farrah talked about how he used to want to win but in some part of his mind think his competitors were better than him and lose the race when they came up alongside him. Now he’s worked on his mindset and his inner knowledge that he can beat them and is going for it, he’s no longer focusing on the other competitors, he is focused on winning. He feels that confidence is like a weapon that gives you control, and you feel positive knowing you’ve prepared well. Andy Murray is another great example of a skilled athlete whose self doubts were the biggest barrier to winning. Self-doubt clouds your mind and focus with excessive negative thoughts about the outcome, not being good enough and so on. Andy’s ability in tennis was not the problem, he could pull marvellous shots out of the bag, but under pressure made more errors. Once he mastered his doubts and built his confidence, he could remain calm and focused under pressure. He won his first grand slam and then went on to win more.
Modern developments in neuroscience mean they can now record activity in living brains with imaging techniques. The fundamental organising principle of the human brain is that we are designed to maximise rewards and minimise threats. Neuroscientists call this the ‘walk towards, run away’ theory. Since the consequences of threats can be catastrophic, the ‘run away’ pathways operate much faster and stronger than the walk towards neural pathways in the brain, so we can respond immediately we detect any potential threat. The neuroscience research shows that our thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism create the same effects in our nervous system and stimulate the same ‘fight-fright-flight or freeze’ response as situations of physical danger. This is the part of our brain that says ‘get me out of here’ and takes over from the part of our brain that controls our rational thinking. Priority is given to the limbic system pathways and vital functions, and energy is shut down in the cortex part of the brain. It means we can’t think straight, make the best decisions, respond well or listen well at that moment in time. Imagine the effect that has on how you present yourself and how effective you are in any situation when you hold predominantly negative thoughts – whether that’s sport, in work, in a job interview, with a client, doing a business presentation or in your home life and communities.
The neuroscience research shows that positive thinking rewires your brain (the official term is neuroplasticity). We can learn to focus our attention constructively and systematically alter our brain circuitry. Neural paths that are used often build stronger connections, and when we no longer use them, the connections break down. (Imagine it's similar to the way a footpath appears across a lawn when people take a shortcut across it to the other corner. When people no longer need to get to the other corner, they stop walking across the lawn and gradually that path disappears.) When we notice and become consciously aware of our intrusive negative thoughts, we can choose to change them, and break the old negative connections. Using mindful awareness, a self-observational skill, we can choose to respond rationally or just differently to emotionally stressful stimuli. We create new connections and the more you use them the stronger those connections become. After a while, you build a new good habit of positive thinking. (This picture is from thebrain.mcgill.ca website where you can see a good explanation of neuroplasticity and how the brain works. Read more about how you can grow and develop your brain here - it also explains why you clear your head by going out for a walk, how you can reduce the effects of aging on your memory and more!)
Your mindset is truly your own,
so that means you can control it and CHOOSE
but ONLY WHEN you are AWARE of it.
A large part of our mindset is usually in our non-conscious mind, where we park the things we want to do automatically without having to think them through all the time – things like how to drive a car, our practical skills we use in our work or at play, our good habits and our bad habits. This is where we hold our values and beliefs, that we’ve absorbed over our lifetime from the people around us, especially family and people we hold in authority. When we first took them on board they were undoubtedly useful for us then. However, life changes, the world changes, and sometimes if we don’t change our mindset too, we become mismatched to the world we live in, resulting in frustration, fear, anger, anxiety, and other negative outcomes.
This is why it is so useful to do a personal audit and raise to conscious awareness everything that influences our mindset and how we see and interact with the world. With that awareness comes choice. We can evaluate how useful each part is to us NOW, whether or not it was useful in the past, and choose whether we will hold that as a core part of our mindset now. We can try on different perspectives and assess what outcome that would bring for us and whether that would be a good outcome. We can clarify our core values that are most important to us, and understand how we express that in our lives, so we can choose behaviour and actions that are in harmony with what is important. We can then create a plan for how we will achieve that!
When we change the way we look at things,
the things change too.
"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." Henry Ford
Call or email Sue if you would like to explore what you might do with coaching to explore your mindset and set yourself up for success.
See our online coaching programmes for confidence here: Aeona Coaching http://www.aeonacoaching.com/confidence.htm
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Tel: 01875 830708
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Evolution: (noun) A gradual development. An exercise carried out in accordance with a procedure or plan.
Evolution through Coaching: Improved performance and desired changes achieved using a strategy to adapt people's attitudes, behaviours and actions.