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Reinforcement

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

The Winning Mind Set 

 

Reinforcement

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard

than anybody else expects of you.”

-HENRY WARD BEECHER

 

 

People have an unbelievable capacity to change, develop, grow and evolve. Science has proven this: the brain, once thought to be fixed past a certain age, is now referred to as “plastic” given its ability to re-generate and develop over time. 

The issue is not one of whether we can change, then, because with the right mindset people can absolutely change. I believe change can occur in an instant. In the very moment we ultimately decide to change, we no longer take the same approach. Therefore, change is not the issue. Rather, the question is how to keep the positive changes that we make over time. 

 

Many people have the opportunity to have teachers, mentors, coaches or parents to aid in the reinforcement necessary to retain these changes. It would be great if we all had people surrounding us who could do that for us. The reality is that most of us don’t, so we need to rely on methods of self-reinforcement in addition to anything we can get from others. To help you in reinforcing the positive changes in your life, then, let me share with you the following The Winning Mind SetTM tools for reinforcing new behaviors. 

 

How Can You Use This?

Four Keys to Effective Reinforcement

 

1. Focus on one thing at a time

2. Praise Progress, not perfection

3. Utilize the power of reminders

4. Establish a “support structure”

 

Focus on one thing at a time

 

As I mentioned in a previous WMS Tip, Tom Landry, who at the time the coach of the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys, was asked, “In all your years of coaching, what is the most important thing you have learned about developing new skills?” Landry replied, “Focus on one thing at a time.”

To do this, you can ask: What is the one thing that will make the biggest difference in my _____________________________ (career, performance, results, relationships, health, etc.)?

Seeing progress in a certain area is fulfilling and self-reinforcing. Once you see some progress in one area and are satisfied that your new habits and behaviors are consistent, you can move to another area, revisiting as often as needed. 

 

Praise progress, not perfection

 

Dan Inosanto is one of the most gifted martial artists in the world. He is probably best known to the general public for his long-time friendship with Bruce Lee. In fact, he was the man personally chosen by Bruce Lee to continue teaching his style of martial arts. Dan once told me that it takes about 1,000 repetitions of a physical movement before it becomes embedded in your nervous system, or what is known as “muscle memory.” That seems like a lot of repetitions, doesn’t it? 1,000? He said that the secret to mastering a technique is not so much of trying to get it down to less than 1,000, but rather to control your emotions so that you don’t get upset when you haven’t got it perfect after the third try. 

Just as it is important to set bite-size goals, it is equally important to reinforce your progress all along the way, to praise progress and not perfection. While it may seem odd to praise yourself, it is an important step in helping you to reinforce where you are and what you need to do to get to the next step. Examples include: 

* One thing I did well today was …

* I improved in this area by…

* I learned …

* I learned what not to do in …

* What is great about this is …

* I think I could make more progress if I…

We cover this in the use of questions in the Emotions chapter of the Winning Mind Set Book. As simple as this technique is, it is also very powerful. Make sure you frame your statements in the positive. It’s the same thing if you say to a child, “Don’t spill your milk.” He has to picture spilling the milk to understand the negation of that action. Instead, “Keep your milk in your cup while you drink it,” is a much better choice, since that is actually what you want him to do. This method of communication is also solution oriented, not problem based as you are actually conveying the solution to the individual, not the problem in reference to what you “Don’t Want.” This is the same principle you want to use when reinforcing a behavior choice in yourself. Tell yourself what you want or need to do, as opposed to what you don’t want or shouldn’t do. This directs you where you want to go and not to where you don’t want to go.

 

Utilize the power of reminders

 

There are other steps you can take to remind you of your goals such as:

1) Taping your goals up on the bathroom mirror or some place where you will see it every day. Your mind is most receptive to information in the periods when you wake up and before you go to sleep. I use post-it notes on the dash of my car with a message of what I want to accomplish.

2) Get images of your goals if possible (pictures can be more motivating than words) 

3) Use pictures or icons of role models. Many people wear the WWJD bracelets to remind them of how they want to treat other people, or the LIVESTRONG bands to anchor to the courage and strength of Lance Armstrong. 

4) Keep a journal. We all slide away from our focal point from time to time and need to adjust back on track. Your journal entries can become a great source of reference, provide insight into how far you have come, and reinforce what you have accomplished. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Isn’t your success worth it, though!

 

 

…don’t try to change yourself, 

change your environment.

-B.F. Skinner

 

Establish a “support structure”

The power of a support structure is amazing, if you are fortunate enough to obtain one. Whether that takes the form of a training partner, a coach, a support group, a trusted friend, a mentor, or an elder, their role can be incredibly effective in helping you achieve the kind of personal success you desire. These people are there for you, to coach, nudge, cajole, tease, and hold you accountable for your actions. They can give you a pat on the back or a kick in the butt, depending on the need. They look out for your best interest and your best interest only.

 

To properly engage a support structure, you will first need a person or people who absolutely believe in your potential. It doesn’t mean that they won’t challenge you or force you to think through your plans, but they need to be a strong supporter in your potential to achieve your goals. 

 

Secondly, you need to have a support structure consistent with your goals. If you want to be a world-class athlete and your coach has never produced a world-class champion, he or she may not be the best choice. If you aspire to a certain position in a company, you need to associate with people who have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to succeed in such an environment. You want to surround yourself with people who have experience at the level you want to be. 

 

Thirdly, you need to be honest and up front about what you want to achieve and what role you want them to play with respect to frequency, directness, and detail. 

 

 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself!”

-George Bernard Shaw

 

Have an absolutely amazing New Year!

 

Send us your comments: kevin@thewinningmindset.com

Kevin Seaman is available for private training, consultation, coaching and speaking engagements. To inquire or if you would like to book Kevin for an event, team training or individual training contact us at the e-mail address listed above. Kevin also offers his freelance writing services for your magazine, newsletter or periodical. We guarantee our services 100%.

© 2007 all rights reserved. Material may be reproduced upon request with written permission. Just ask.

 

What’s it going to be, this or that?

Friday, July 11th, 2008

The Winning Mind Set 

What’s it going to be,

 

 

 

 this or that?

   Have you ever had something very important that you wanted to do, yet somehow in the back of your mind you felt not quite right about it going in? It was almost as if something was holding you back, influencing you incongruently as you entered into the endeavor, with a push/pull effect. In reference to athletic competition, I have had many coaches profess to me that their athlete is one of the best. That they have amazing performance during their practices and trials, but they can’t seem to motivate them to perform as well in competition. Many times this is due to the mixed messages that this athlete is sending to themselves, through their internal dialog (self talk) based on external influences.

 The effect of our beliefs is of critical importance because they either Empower or Limit us, so they are known simply as Empowering Beliefs and Limiting Beliefs.

  

Examples of Empowering Beliefs are: 1. If I did it before, I can do it again.

2. I know it’s possible. 

 3. There has to be a way. 

 4. If I have succeeded in other things, I’m sure I can do it now, too.

 5. I have all the tools I need; it will just take time, perseverance and patience.

 

  Empowering beliefs will:

   1. Allow us to tap into our vast potential.

  2. Help us to ask better questions to access resources that can help us reach our goal 

 (Who can help? What do we need to do first? Who has already done this, or something  like this, that we can contact? What are we overlooking?).

  3. Encourage us to look for a solution instead of quitting when we face challenges.

 Take a moment and list 3-4 beliefs that you have helped you throughout your life. 

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

 -JOHN WOODEN 

How our beliefs may conflict

Now, think about these “beliefs”:

  • Look before you leap, vs. He who hesitates is lost.
  • If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, vs. Two heads are better than one.
  • Ask and you shall receive, vs. Good things come to those who wait. 

  These cultural beliefs, what some might call aphorisms, often send conflicting messages as the above examples illustrate. It is quite common for us to have beliefs that conflict as well, especially in the important areas of relationships, money, time, energy and personal performance.

 Let me give you some examples to help understand this better. For instance, let’s look at how this applies to relationships. You may know someone who longs to get into a relationship. They want to have someone to trust, to open up to and share themselves with. They desire to feel the closeness and intimacy that can be found in a relationship, yet they don’t take any action towards making that desire a reality. Why not? Because they are fearful of being hurt due to the fact that they choose to focus on the bad experiences they have had in the past (personal references), and their new limiting belief may be something like “All men / women lie, or cheat, or will hurt you”…or, if I put my heart out there it might get broken. In psychology there is a term for  this, it is called “approach avoidance”. This can occur when an individual experiences a pull towards something, yet at the same time feels a repulsion that pushes them away from that same thing. This is because the situation evokes multiple and conflicting emotions based on multiple and conflicting beliefs. Have you ever felt this in your experiences, either athletically or in other areas of your life?

 Here’s another example applied to parenting.

  Some mothers and fathers believe that to be a good parent they have to provide for their children financially, so they work extremely hard and long hours to do that. They may hold onto beliefs such as “If I am a good parent, then I have to make enough money to send them to a good school,” or may phrase it as “Good parents provide for their kids financially” (a categorical belief). Yet part of them feels guilty about being away from their kids, too (they may have an equally strong belief that “Kids are only young once, so the most important thing is to spend time with them.”), and they end up with an internal battle over which approach is “right”. Many two-income families struggle with this very issue every day. 

How about in performance? Why do I compete or perform?

Do I play because I love what I’m doing? Because, ever since I can remember I enjoyed myself and had fun doing this? Because, I know if I just go out there and just be myself, that’s what has made me successful in the past? Or, because everyone is depending on me to be who they think I am? What if I don’t perform? What if my outcome is not the BEST? Will I let down my friends, parents, coach, sponsors, everyone? What will they think about me? Say about me?

 Belief/Value Conflicts= Approach Avoidance!

OK, got this concept? Great! Now, I want you to notice whether there are any conflicts between your empowering beliefs and/or your limiting beliefs. If so, take a moment and jot them down. Include any issues that this brings up for you (areas of tension, arguments, guilt, anger, emotional drain, stress, etc)

 How will this help you?

 You can apply this to your life daily by asking yourself these questions: When I do something that I perceive as important to me, what about this action makes me want to succeed? What makes me feel uncomfortable? In other words, what questions do I have about the consequences of not succeeding?

Is the pleasure of the success more inviting to me than the feeling of pain of the failure? Does this endeavor align with my values, to what I believe is important to me? Answer yourself honestly and treat yourself with integrity, focus on your strength, the strength of your true values! Do this every day and you will overcome your fears and doubts with YOUR Winning Mind Set!

 Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.  -WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE The Winning Mind Set BLOG is written and produced by Kevin Seaman, with contributing author James Brault.

HAVE AN ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE WEEK!

  KEVIN SEAMAN

Send me your questions and comments: kevin@thewinningmindset.com

 

  © 2007 all rights reserved. Material may be reproduced upon request with written permission. Just ask.

 

 

There are Voices In Your Head

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Research has found that we talk to ourselves over 50,000 times a day, everyday. That’s 375,000 times a week, 1,500,000 times a month, and 19,500,000 a year. And despite all the media stimulus shouting out at us constantly, conversations with our friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances, etc… Guess who we listen to the most attentively? Ourselves! This internal dialog goes on both on a cognitive level, as well as subconsciously. I recently heard two really amazing things from a coach of mine Jack Canfield. The first was an equation E+R=O. Now, this is not one of those tediously pointless algebra problems I so painfully remember working on in school, but is actually one of the most useful things I have heard in a long time. “E” is Effect, this is what happens to us. “R” is our response to that effect or action. The “O” is our outcome that occurs due to our Response to the Effect. In reality, we really have very little control over our “E’s”. Things happen to us regardless of what we do to try to shield ourselves from “LIFE”. Some are good and some are not so good. They happen without our consent everyday. The only thing we actually have control over is our Response, and that is what will ultimately determine our Outcome. Entertain me as I illustrate this simple example. I’m walking down the street and as I begin to cross, a car flies through the intersection and I jump out of the way. Ultimately, I’m sure you will agree it was my response to this reckless endangerment that absolutely determined my outcome and probably my existence. OK, a little overdramatic perhaps, but I got the point across.

Let’s look at another example. I receive an opportunity to improve myself through a course of action, such as a business or employment opportunity, the Effect. I think about this possibility and how it may improve my situation financially, dramatically change my personal freedom, enhance my creativity, increase my potential for personal growth and get me out of my current stale job. As I ponder the positives, I start to evaluate how this change would dramatically move me out of my current job environment, away from the people I work with. What will they think about me? What if it doesn’t work out? How am I going to handle this change? What if I fail? Then, I’ll look like a loser. How am I going to get another job? Is this worth it? Maybe my job isn’t that bad, I do have some security. So…this seems a little too uncertain, I don’t feel too comfortable with things that are new anyway. I think I’ll pass. There’s the “R”, the Response. The Outcome is… I passed up an opportunity to completely change my life and exceed my potential and everything stays the same.

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

-William James

The second thing I heard Jack Canfield say, in relation to our Response is this. There are only three things that we actually have control of in our lives.

1) The things we say to ourselves, our inner dialog.

2) The pictures we make in our head, our visualizations.

3) Our response to our challenges, our actions.

The amazing part of this whole concept is most people focus not on the Response, but on the Effect. Why’s this happening to me? This sucks! I don’t think this is fair. Well…you can’t blame me because Blank happened to me!

Their Response is actually to focus on their effect.

How Can I Use This?

1)  The things we say to ourselves, our inner dialog.

Pay particular attention to your internal voice. Always state things in the Positive, Personal and Present-tense. Tell your self what you want…never what you don’t want! Example: I don’t want to want to blow this. Better Example: I do the very best I can. I got this one in the bag.

2)  The pictures we make in our head, our visualizations.

See yourself accomplishing exactly what you want your outcome to be. You get what you focus on. If you focus on what you fear the outcome might be, your actions will accept that command and direct you exactly to that place.

See what you want with conviction, you wouldn’t go into anything important physically with a so-so attitude. Don’t go into a mental playout with that attitude either, or you will get results that are congruent with that visualization.

3) Our response to our challenges, our actions.

Take action! Commit yourself to succeed. Positive thinking is good to a point, but in order to succeed you must act, respond, execute, perform, achieve, accomplish…assess, calculate, get off your butt and do it!

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us,

we can control what happens inside us.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Have an outstanding week!

Kevin Seaman

Welcome To The Winning Mind Set Blog!

Monday, June 9th, 2008