Why do some people achieve more than others?
For some business owners this can be a real frustration. An employee may have all the right skills and qualifications, may even have the right industry expertise, yet they never seem to reach their full potential. More training and motivational talks seem to have very little impact. They just keep plodding along instead of getting up to the speed that they could and should be working at.
It can be hard to figure out how to turn that lack of performance around. The best place to start is to have a conversation around how they think about what they have to do. You may both be surprised at the results.
Thoughts impact actions more than we realise
While we may think that we know what’s going on in our mind, we’re really only aware of our conscious thoughts – which are a very small percentage compared to our subconscious thoughts. Every day our brain absorbs information from what’s going on around us and then attempts to organise it. This usually results in attaching either a positive or negative emotion to the experience. The more an experience is repeated the more it entrenches how we feel about something. This in turn directs us to subconsciously respond to new situations in certain ways based on previous experiences.
For example: If a credit controller thinks that people aren’t paying because they want to get out of paying, they may come across more aggressively than they should when following up on payments. Their behaviour might annoy customers, who in turn deliberately drag their feet in settling up. This creates a vicious circle entrenching the belief in the credit controller’s mind that people deliberately make late payments.
Thoughts influence behaviour through emotions
What this example illustrates is that what a person thinks about a situation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thoughts, as a result of experiences, influence how people feel. This in turn influences how they behave, how they react or respond to situations, how they approach tasks or even how they interact with others. Typically these behaviours impact the outcome of a situation. So if a person believes they can’t do something or that others will let them down, they act in a way that ultimately gives them exactly what they expect. The scary thing is that this brings them full circle. Their failure only serves to further entrench the belief that nothing ever goes right in their life.
“If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
Now while this statement by Henry Ford might at first appear confusing, it’s entirely accurate. The example above highlighted the impact of negative thoughts and emotions. We used it because when employees aren’t performing it’s usually their thoughts and not their lack of ability that is holding them back. As they’re usually not aware of this, it’s really their unconscious thoughts that are sabotaging them.
Similarly, by becoming more aware of the influence our thinking has, we can change the outcomes. The power of positive thinking may seem clichéd, and people might argue that just thinking and believing something doesn’t make it true. But it has a great deal to do with why some people consistently perform better than others.
When you start to connect the dots and see how empowering thoughts influence emotions and behaviour. And how that change of behaviour impacts how you and other people respond, it starts to all click into place. There will be different outcomes when a situation is approached from a different perspective. When people think about their abilities or situations differently and about what they can control and what they can’t.
Being in a nationwide lockdown is a prime example of being in a situation that is beyond anyone’s control. If you think about how much can’t be done, you can quickly start to feel helpless and not be able to focus on work. Many employees may be feeling this way, overwhelmed by stress. And it could well be influencing their lack of productivity. An empathetic conversation that gently nudges them to be more aware of what they’re thinking and how that’s affecting how they feel and act, is one of the most helpful things businesses owners could do to motivate staff.
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