12 April 2016
To Change Your World, Change Your Mind
As you work to improve your leadership style and be more aligned with your personal brand, have you ever considered how your self-image affects your overall success?
The late Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a well-known plastic surgeon and author of Psycho Cybernetics stated, “You act and feel not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like.”
He noticed even after improving his patient’s physical appearance (removing scars, eliminating deformities and performing simple cosmetic procedures) many continued to see them as they were prior to the surgery.
You will act like the person you conceive yourself to be.
It's Only Logical, Right?
If you don't believe you can be a great leader, it stands to reason that you will never become one. You won't take the risks needed to achieve great things, because you believe that just isn’t for you.
Your self-image impacts what you accomplish or don't accomplish, not your conscious efforts or willpower. If you want to be a great leader but don’t change your internal program to align with the new belief you will always retreat back to the mental picture you hold of yourself. Dr. Maltz referred to this as the ”snap back effect”.
Your brain is a powerful tool and works to support you based on the information you feed it. It holds everything you tell it as truth, whether it is or whether it isn’t.
Even if the story is old, if it is running in your head, it is influencing the way you act today.
Don't Think You're Keeping It To Yourself
You act, feel and behave in a way that is consistent with the image you unconsciously hold of yourself often from early childhood. The beliefs you hold become part of your story, your truth, and is what you act out in your life.
For example: You sit quietly in meetings because you feel what you say doesn't matter. As a child you were ridiculed for your ideas.
You are boastful and interrupt others because you feel the need to prove yourself. As a child you didn’t perform well in school so now you need to show everyone how smart you are.
You judge others and create conflict because you want to be noticed. As a child you were always the last one picked to be part of a team and felt ignored.
The good news is you can intentionally choose who you become by changing your internal self-image and self-talk. To kick-start the process you have to stop focusing on what you don’t want and start to focus on mentally drawing the picture of what you do want.
Making The Change
Begin by actively listening to the things you tell yourself, and push back on the tired old stories that hold you back. Arm yourself with the pictures of your ‘new normal’ and the positive phrases that will support you when negativity creeps in.
You may make the mistake of thinking that your inner voice is only about what you tell yourself but it indirectly influences what others think of you too. A poor self-image influences your behaviours and how you present yourself to the outside world, which defines your personal brand.
For example, if you don't like how you look, you are not likely to make yourself the center of attention. Rather, you will unconsciously do everything to fly under the radar and let others take center stage. If you don't believe you can be a great leader, you won't present yourself like a great leader, which means no one will see you as a great leader!
To change your outward results you need to become more mindful of the story you tell yourself and the affects it has on your behaviour.
As you examine your inner voice, and find ways to change it, be mindful of how that voice affects your outward behaviour, too. In addition to creating a new story that reminds you of how you want to show up, define the behaviour that will support your new story.
When you begin to make the necessary changes you will find the courage to raise your hand to lead a special project or ask for feedback to ensure you are aligned with how you want to be known or reach out to book a lunch with a colleague you admire to discover a new perspective.
Take the time to rewrite your story with language that supports you and identify specific behaviours that will help you get to where you want to go.
Begin With The End In Mind
As you do the work and experience success it will motivate you to continue taking action. With practice and persistence, your mental picture and chatter will change. And, as it does, it will be easier to present yourself as the person you want to be in the world. Real change begins on the inside and shows up on the outside for all to see.