energy and enthusiasm, they eventually fail because they have an inner dialog
that doesn't support their desire to succeed.
Self-sabotaging inner dialogs always consist of a belief that drives
self-sabotaging behavior that gets lousy results. In the following example, I'm
using a salesperson, but this technique works for anybody in any job.
- Belief: "The economy is weak so people won't buy want to buy me."
- Behavior: The salesperson resists calling potential customers.
- Result: The salesperson's "pipeline" of opportunities dries up, thereby
reinforcing the belief.
A few years ago, Tom Roth, COO of the
sales training firm Wilson Learning, taught
me a great technique to ensure that your inner dialog supports your goals. He
calls it "STOP-CHALLENGE-FOCUS."
Here's how it works. Whenever you feel uncomfortable or unmotivated about
taking an action that you know will lead towards your goal:
STOP. Identify the belief that's causing you to feel emotions that
aren't helping you succeed.
CHALLENGE. Question the validity of that belief and find reasons why
it's not really true or not true in this case.
FOCUS. Create a specific inner dialog that supports your goals and
then take action immediately.
Using the example above, here's how you'd apply this technique. He does the
STOP. A salesperson notices that he doesn't feel like calling
potential customers. He listens to his internal dialog and identifies the
self-sabotaging belief: "The economy is weak so people won't buy want to buy
CHALLENGE. The salesperson reflects that: 1) Some salespeople do
great during hard economic times, 2) The economy, while weak, is still growing,
3) When companies are struggling they need good ideas.
FOCUS. The salesperson forces the following belief into his internal
dialog: "Customers need what I'm selling even more in weak economy" and
immediately takes the action that he's been avoiding.
As I mentioned above, the STOP-CHALLENGE-FOCUS method works for any job role
and any situation. For example, let's suppose you're about to present your
startup idea to a billionaire investor, but you're feeling queasy and unsure of
STOP. You identify the belief that's not supporting your goal: "Why
would somebody so important and successful want to speak with a nobody like me?"
As a result of this belief, you're probably going to come off with little
self-confidence and thus self sabotage.
CHALLENGE. You reflect that 1) most great entrepreneurs were
"nobodies" at one point, 2) billionaires often enjoy taking risks to make more
money, and 3) many people--even billionaires--have a deep desire to mentor.
FOCUS. Just before the meeting, you force the following belief into
your inner dialog: "I'm going to meet a kindred spirit who will probably love my
great idea." You may not get the money but it won't be because you
self-sabotaged yourself. More importantly, you've created a belief, and an
inner dialog, that supports your goals.
In other words, by identifying, challenging and resetting your inner dialog,
you not only prevent yourself from self-sabotage but greatly increase the
likelihood of success.