Power of Mental-Maps: Fear of Failure and Self-fulfilling Prophecy

We all have mental sets or maps that create are perceptions and feelings about situations. During my observations and coaching for thirty-five years I have spotted to critical mindsets that are significant obstacles to performing at your best. They are:

1. Lack of confidence leads to a mindset called “Fear of Failure.  Fear of failure then creates a resistance to exposing yourself to these feared situations in the future.

2.Lack of belief in content or self.  This is the Self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP) in action.

The secret to successful and effective speaking is self-confidence. Our mental-set and self-esteem impact our communication interactions and performance in subtle and powerful ways. If you watch President-Elect Obama, his confidence impacts your perception of his steadiness and calm. This is a key attribute for leaders in connecting with diverse audiences.

What Is Self-Confidence?

Some say it is to never let people see you sweat. Daniel Goleman, author ofEmotional Intelligence, says “self-confidence is a strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities”.  Self-confidence in any arena of life is a reality-based feeling or attitude that you can meet and fulfill the expectations and challenges presented.  Self-confidence seems to be rooted in competence, adequacy, and positive life experiences.  The self-confident person has a sense of personal control and inner direction.  They have a strong belief in their abilities and few self-doubts or fears.  The confident person believes in their ability to communicate, change, learn, and grow.

They are open to new ideas, observant of surroundings, aware of strengths and weaknesses, and assertive in conflict.  They project assurance (thoughtfulness, calm and decisive behaviors) and empathy for others.

What it is not?

Self-confidence is not arrogance, cockiness, defensiveness, pretenses, or denials.  It is not an over-the-top ‘I am always right’ attitude.  It is not condescension toward others.  It can appear as unrealistic grandiosity if reality and the current situation are ignored.

In Life there are times when we get knocked down. Too often we are tempted to just sit there and and get all caught up in the failure or fear. But, if you are going to achieve your full potential, you’ve got to bounce back mentally. These mental interferences trigger your physical reactions such as — shaky voice, hands or knees knocking, talking too fast, darting and wandering eyes, and above all else, a non-confident speaker who then goes on to perform poorly.

False Beliefs and Negative Thoughts

Many of us are aware that we are own worst enemy and that we have a tendency to get in our own way when speaking.  How does this phenomenon work?  It works as any human action works through the natural chain of observation, thoughts, feelings and action.  Take for example, the action of hitting a backhand in tennis. You observe the image of a ball coming toward your backhand and you say to yourself–oh no a backhand shot I am no good at this stroke , then you respond by moving your feet and putting the racquet into position and try to hit the backhand with this negative self-talk effecting your swing. The result is probably a miss hit or a poor shot. Remember self thoughts effective the action you take.  This chain reaction of events can be either a positive or negative self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP).  The SFP is started by a false belief (I can/can’t hit an overhead) and becomes fulfilled by action that supports that original belief.

The first advice I give to people who want to improve their presentation skills is, “Don’t fight the feeling of being nervous!” Feeling nervous is a normal course of events with any type of performance activity.  If a situation is seen as a threat, our unconscious mind goes to work pumping adrenaline into our brain., telling us to fight or take flight.  Nearly every speaker, including the professionals, has that feeling before getting up in front of an audience.

The difference is that extraordinary speakers give that feeling a different name: they see it as the energy needed to give an outstanding performance. It’s the positive energy that helps get them going. It’s a feeling that lets you know that you’re about to do something exciting and the outcome is important to you and your audience.

So the next time you feel nervous before a speech or presentation, welcome that feeling and say to yourself, “thank you for the reminder . . . I’m glad I’m feeling this way… I am ready to go get them!” When you don’t have that feeling, your speech is likely to be flat and you’ll have to work much harder to deliver an engaging presentation.

Create —Positive Mind set through Behavioral Rehearsal Techniques

After you’ve created your blueprint, and before you take action, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your thoughts and maintain the ones that will support you’re getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and focus on your strengths and  the end result.


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