Why do some people persevere, where others give up? How come one person has a winning mentality and another one hasn’t? Why one person easily says "I don't give a ..." while another one succumbs to personal criticism and social pressure?
In this blog I give ten insights that can help you to stay on track when things get difficult. For those interested, enjoy reading!
- Your personality as a starting point for change
- Upgrade your mental software - create a growth mindset
- Find your infinite source of energy
- The power of intuitive thinking and visualization
- Motivation - the principle of progression and the power of small wins
- The art of taking risks and daring to make mistakes
- Develop Optimism and Creativity - increase your problem-solving skills and learn to create, see and seize opportunities
- Find an environment in which you are challenged and inspired
- Time management vs Energy management
- Do you believe in your own abilities or not?
HOW TO STAY ON TRACK
This Corona time means that many of you are extra challenged. Some entrepreneurs have been lucky, but for the most part it is a difficult time, in which giving up sometimes seems easier than persisting. Then there are many people who are losing or are at risk of losing their jobs. How do you stay on track in these challenging times?
A lot of knowledge is now available through scientific insights and the many self-help books about mentality, motivation, persistence and achieving your goals. Through this blog I share some of these insights and who knows, they might be helpful for you.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to just try one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
The more I delve into the information available on this topic, the more I realize that many methods will work out differently for each person. Not everyone will have a need for mindfulness, wants to go in-depth in search of themselves or reaches his or her goals with a simple goal-setting strategy. Since we humans are different and everyone's starting point is different, the correct route will also differ.
Ten principles that can help you reach the finish line
1. Your personality as a starting point for change
How we deal with our goals and setbacks is largely determined by our personality. We humans distinguish ourselves on various characteristics, such as ambition, performance, creativity, optimism, sensitivity, etc. These characteristics are fairly stable around the age of 25ste and cannot simply be changed. From this we can deduce our qualities and pitfalls, especially in situations where we encounter ourselves and are faced with setbacks and disappointments. The degree to which we are aware of our qualities and pitfalls varies enormously! Although nowadays the focus is on continuous learning, all kinds of learning programs are offered and learning to give and receive feedback receives more attention, people differ enormously in their self-insight and self-critical capacity. How do you develop a continuous feedback loop, so that you continue to activate and develop yourself in a positive way? Our self-critical capacity strongly determines our capacity for change and our personal growth. And therefore also for the way in which we deal with setbacks.
How does it work in practice?
- Work on your discipline to learn - in the face of any setback, ask yourself - what is going well and what can I do better? Be aware that failure is an important part of growth and to fail you need guts - without guts to fail you will make little progress
- Investigate the causes that make it difficult for you to persevere when the going gets tough. Which dilemmas (external) arise and which problems (internal) do you experience within yourself? Look for behavioural alternatives in difficult situations and practice (experiment) with them. Evaluate the results for yourself
- Answer for yourself what your strengths and pitfalls are in the context of achieving your goals - ask for feedback if necessary
2. Upgrade your mental "software" - create a Growth Mindset
Someone’s mindset has a great influences on his degree of success. Research distinguishes two types of mindsets; people with a fixed mindset and people with a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that capacities cannot be developed, but people with a growth mindset assume that this is an option. In contrast to people with a fixed mindset, people with a growth mindset will do their best after a setback to still achieve the intended result. They see mistakes and setbacks as things to learn from and do not run away from challenges or fear of making mistakes. The good news is that a growth mindset can be developed.
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.”
– Muhammed Ali
I think we all are dealing with negative self-talk. Our inner voice that tells us what we cannot do and what we should not try. In IT terms, we are all programmed in a certain way and we have certain software installed and applications running that determine how our hardware functions. The principle of Conscious engineering focuses on consciously adapting our models of reality (V. Lakhiani). By hacking old thinking patterns and exchanging them for models that strengthen us, we increase our potential for growth and development. Our world is a reflection of the beliefs we hold and often these beliefs are based on old models. Often these are models from our early childhood and youth that have a major impact on how we live our lives. Conscious engineering is about the fact that these models have an experience date and that it is important to realize that the past does not have to determine how you live your life. When we run into something, as happens continuously in our daily life, we are largely inclined to look for solutions according to the known highways in our thinking system.
How does it work in practice?
- Investigate whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset - what happens to you when you are faced with setbacks?
- To develop a growth mindset, it helps to set learning goals instead of performance goals. You mainly focus on the process and not on the end result. This will make you see mistakes as part of the learning process
- Convert obstructive thoughts into helping thoughts – instead of "I can't" - "I can't do it yet", or "this is so difficult" to "this is a challenge"
- Check for yourself whether your "models of reality" are based on absolute truths or on relative truths - in other words, is it about facts, or is it about opinions, values and norms?
- Realize that your way of thinking is changeable - our greatest asset is our free choice! Replace old models with new models, so that you can strengthen and improve yourself. Such as - with my talents I can create something beautiful of value for others as opposed to others are much better and more creative than me
3. Find your infinite source of energy
In our society, the current system of learning and teaching still determines a lot in how we should organize our lives and how we should conform to existing norms and values. Gradually different and new trends emerge in the field of learning and organizing our lives. Getting a good education and hard work no longer guarantees success or happiness. Topics like purpose, finding your passion and listening to your inner voice have been emerging for a while. Much has been written about finding your passion and following your intrinsic motivation. Where one person has found his passion quite quickly, another person has been looking for it all his life and may never find his true passion or do anything with it. There are now quite a few tricks to find out what makes our heartbeat goes faster, so that we can also make our choices based on our intrinsic motives. Work then no longer feels like work, but as a positive use of time. And then there are many positive side effects when we have found our passion, such as becoming a nicer person. And more positivity leads to better performance and results.
How does it work in practice?
- Make a list of 10 to 15 topics that interest you and you would like to learn more about. This will not always be an easy task, but do not let that stop you and try to think out of the box. Then try to see which aspects you can connect with each other within this
- Return to the open-mindedness and curiosity you had as a child - what topics were you interested in?
- Dare to listen to your dreams and wishes - these serve as a harbinger of what you can actually achieve
- Who or what inspires you? Which heroes do you have, which music has a positive effect on you?
Working from passion offers an endless source of energy. When you know how to connect the elements that fascinate and inspire you, you will notice that you will have access to a new kind of fuel. Which can help you take that extra step, make that extra meter and you build up that extra bit of resilience, so that you can continue when things don’t go the way you want it to go.
4. The power of intuitive thinking and visualization
We humans have two systems of thinking which is nicely explained in the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" (D. Kahneman). Although our rational system helps us to organize the world and make decisions (consciously), our intuition is increasingly important as a counsellor and as an inner compass (unconscious). The hustle and bustle we find ourselves in largely distracts us from our intuition and it is not for nothing that mindfulness has been hugely popular for a number of years. But what does listening better to this inner voice bring us?
Intuition is a kind of primal instinct, based on all kinds of mental programs that take place in our subconscious. While in today's society we benefit greatly from our rational thinking, we should not underestimate the power of our intuition. Intuition gives us direction, brings us creativity and brings us closer to our core. "Theory U" (O. Scharmer) explains that listening to your inner voice increases problem solving. You will have to dare to let go of familiar ways of judging and solutions and be open to what presents itself. Instead of acting quickly and trying to get a grip on the situation, you should make way for not knowing and an open attitude. Our intuition also enables us to envision a vision of the future, in which we do not allow ourselves to be limited by imposed ways of thinking and views.
‘’The man who has no imagination has no wings’’ – Muhammed Ali
Interestingly, we humans have tremendous imaginations. We can imagine something that is not physically there. Great thinkers are able to envision a future, with which they subsequently inspire others. For example, Einstein did fantasy exercises every day, which gave him the first visions about his theory of relativity. On an individual level it is about seeing your future - something from your dreams, a big wish. It is essential to stimulate your imagination when you want to achieve something. Imagination plays a very important role in finding creative solutions, but also functions as a source of inspiration and a starting point to actually set something in motion.
How does it work in practice?
- Visualize different future scenarios in which you are happy and experience success
- Think ahead - try to envision yourself overcoming the obstacles
- Start by observing a situation and let go of existing judgments and solution strategies - Be open and allow space for your intuition - which new input will emerge and what does it mean? Then convert the new ideas into an action plan
5. Motivation - The Progression Principle and The power of small wins
Much has been written about what motivates us and how we can apply this in our work and daily life. A distinction is often made between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. With intrinsic motivation, we are motivated to display behaviour that is personally rewarding. When we are extrinsically driven, motivation is short-lived and dependent on an external reward. When we are driven by our intrinsic motivators, we no longer experience work so much as work and we get more satisfaction from it, we are more creative and productive.
Amabile's research into experiencing a positive work experience showed that making progress was the most decisive in this. The point is that it must be progress towards an objective that is perceived as meaningful - so our perception of the activities and objectives is very important! Progression can be stimulated by actions that support the activities, such as help from others, clear objectives and the right preconditions, such as time and space (catalysts). In addition, interpersonal relationships play a role, which involves receiving support, appreciation and positive feedback (nourishers). An interesting aspect of this theory is that even small steps forward are very motivating, or "the power of small wins". Even a small step forward can make a huge difference in how someone feels and how someone performs. It is therefore important to keep an eye on the small successes we achieve.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
How does it work in practice?
- Increase the actions that support you in achieving your goals (catalysts); create the right preconditions (time and space), seek help from the right people, etc.
- Find people around you who provide you with positive feedback and support, so that even when you no longer see it yourself, you can see the result of your work (nourishers)
- Avoid actions that do the opposite as much as possible; things that make working towards your goals more difficult (inhibitors), or situations, or people around you that discourage you (toxins)
- Practice seeing progress, even if it sometimes means taking a step back, to take another step forward - write down your learning goals and try to see the bigger picture
6. The art of taking risks and daring to make mistakes
A real showstopper is not daring to make mistakes. I do think this is one of the biggest reasons that put people in a passive state. It’s such a big loss if people do not use their own potential, do not follow their dreams, because there is a fear of what others think ... .. Right?
Why is it necessary to take risks and dare to make mistakes? The answer, of course, is that it will be very difficult to grow if we don't push our limits and get out of our comfort zone. Already when we were little we literally learned to fall and get up. The strange thing is that taking risks and daring to make mistakes was natural in our younger years, so we learned a lot. However, as we get older we seem to limit ourselves in our ability to learn, because we experience our routine and comfort as pleasant. Herein lies the risk that we no longer challenge ourselves and want to step out of the comfort zone.
‘We can’t be brave without fear’ – Muhammed Ali
The fear of failure is largely embedded in our personality. Often, this is based on deeper ideas or experiences that have shaped our personality. Think of disappointments or severe criticism that someone had to deal with as a child. Behaviour that is rewarded is more likely to be maintained than behaviour that is punished. The theory of performance motivation (H. Hermans) speaks of negative and positive fear of failure. People with positive performance anxiety need a lot of tension to achieve optimal performance. If you are dealing with negative performance anxiety, you run the risk of blocking or significantly underperforming. In order to reduce negative performance anxiety, it is important that the person concerned feels responsible for the tasks to be performed and is intrinsically motivated. It is important that someone wants to perform the task from their own insight and capacities and strives for a good result. They show commitment, care for the task and perseverance. Performance-motivated people want to be competent and self-determining.
How does it work in practice?
- Investigate for yourself whether you find it difficult to make mistakes. Can this be traced back to a specific event? Check for yourself whether your defining ideas are still valid, or are now quite dated and need to be replaced
- Experiment by finding situations where you step out of your comfort zone - set achievable goals and work in small steps - rewarding yourself for steps in the right direction increases the chance of repetition
- Accept that fear is part of trying new experiences and fear should not be a barrier to performing well
7. Optimism and Creativity are skills you can develop - increase your problem-solving skills and learn to see and seize opportunities
How nice is it that when you are dealing with a problem, or you have to accept a disappointment, that you can come up with solutions from different angles, which in turn creates new opportunities and possibilities. Optimism and creativity are personality traits, but at the same time also skills that you can develop.
Seligman's research has focused on the phenomenon of learned helplessness. It highlighted three beliefs that people may have; adversity is permanent, adversity is personal and adversity is all-embracing. Seligman also researched learned optimism. In similar situations (such as losing your job, for example) people had opposite views; the setback is only temporary, the setback is not personal and the setback is not all-encompassing. It turns out that pessimistic people attribute negative events to stable, global and internal factors. They attribute positive events to temporary, specific and external factors. Seligman's research shows that it is possible to transform pessimists into optimists. For this, one should consider the interpretations one gives to a setback or disappointment. By subsequently linking positive interpretations to this, one can develop a more positive attitude to life. It is then easier to bounce back in the event of a setback. While total control over our lives is not possible, it is also a misconception that we cannot exert any influence. The belief that you can influence your life is the basis.
Optimism - How does it work in practise?
- Check for yourself whether with a new idea you rather focus on the impossibilities (the obstacles), or whether you feel enthusiasm arise and get energy
- What are the negative ideas based on? Why are they there and to what extent are they based on facts and reality?
- Happier people are more optimistic and more optimistic people are happier. So you can also learn optimism by working on your happiness. For example, the simple 3 good things exercise: write down 3 good things about that day every day for a week
- Write down a sentence every evening about a pleasant event of the day, as if it were caused by something general (global), permanent (stable) or your own (because I am or can).
- Also write down a sentence every night about an unpleasant event, as if it were caused by something specific, temporary or outside yourself (because x then y).
There are several ways to view creativity. On the one hand, it is a talent and it enables someone to create beautiful creations. On the other hand, a creative person will be able to make more and different connections and thus arrive at multiple and also more effective solution strategies. Research shows that after our birth, almost no new brain cells are added, but that we make new connections throughout our lives. Thus, the human brain is able to form new connections to meet the unique needs of an individual. They are incredibly flexible and able to learn and adapt and improve and refine skills that are most used purely as a result of stimulation (Brainstory). Successful thinking patterns are remembered, stored, and reapplied until it becomes a habit, or an automatism. The downside of this experience and fixed thinking patterns is that it is not easy to break through them, or to think creatively.
Creative thinking is about breaking through fixed thinking patterns and making new connections. The aim is to come up with new solutions, see different angles and discover new opportunities. Edward de Bono developed the model of the six thinking hats, where each colour represents a particular school of thought. Using this model teaches you to view a problem in a structured way from multiple perspectives, thereby increasing your solution options. A model that is well applicable for a team meeting, for example. In addition, you can increase your creative potential by sharpening a number of basic skills; creative perception, postponement of judgment, flexible association, divergence and development of imagination. Each of these skills can be practiced through training, which increases your own creative potential.
Creativity - How does it work in practise?
- Use De Bono's six thinking hats when looking at an issue: white (neutral, objective - facts and figures), red (emotional - suspicions, intuition and hunches), black (focus on negative aspects - why should something not work? ), yellow (optimism, hope and positive outlook), green (creativity, new insights and ideas), blue (organization, control and discipline)
- Training the basic skills: 1. Creative perception - practice to perceive in a different way 2. Postponement of judgment - postpone your judgment, so that you give more room for explorative ideas and other perspectives, etc; 3. Flexible association - start with 1 term and, for example, make a series with associations within a certain time; 4. Diverging - In addition to the first obvious ideas, try to double the number of alternatives; 5. Imagination - practice imagining and let go of existing images – e.g. remember something from your childhood, or imagine something in the future
- Surround yourself with creative people and learn from their creative process - modelling (imitating the other)
8. Find an environment in which you are challenged / inspired
You're the average of the people you hang out with - this was one of Bill Gates' quotes I came across in an interview. What Gates wanted to indicate was the importance of gathering the right people around you. Preferably people you can learn from and who are just a bit smarter than yourself, or are better at persevering when the going gets tough. If you want to progress, you will also have to choose the environment that can take you a step further and that offers just a little more challenge, so that you can develop further.
However, it is not always easy to get out of that familiar environment and you certainly need certain skills to get to know new people and network. Think of social skills and adaptability. In addition, people must also like you. In most cases, we have little to say about the environment in which we grow up. As we get older, we make choices of our own, which allows us to discover new environments, make new friends and form relationships.
Stephen Covey developed a model for proactivity consisting of two circles; the circle of commitment and the circle of influence. The circle of involvement includes all things in which we are more or less emotionally and mentally involved. The circle of influence contains all the things we can say about and influence. Proactive people mainly focus on the circle of influence. They get to work on things in which they can really make a difference. The essence of proactivity is being able to commit yourself to something and fulfil that obligation. Reactive people focus on the circle of involvement, problems in the environment and circumstances over which they actually have no influence. Proactive behaviour will keep the circle of influence expanding.
How does it work in practice?
- Analyse your environment - to what extent are you inspired by the environment you are in and the people around you? If you do not get enough inspiration from this, seek connections with other networks, and look for other environments. Determine your learning ambitions and interests in advance, so that you can make targeted contact
- Become more aware of the influence you can exert by dividing problems into three categories; 1. Problems that you directly influence through your behaviour, 2. Problems that you indirectly influence through others and 3. Problems that you have no influence on (the past, the environment, problems that you cannot do anything about).
9. Optimize your energy - Time management versus Energy management
As you get older and your life gets busier, I notice that it is less and less about time management and more and more about energy management. In our daily work we are constantly under pressure, we have to deal with deadlines, new opportunities that we cannot pass up, perhaps a nagging manager or colleague or a problem with the WiFi that prevents us from continuing to work. Stress, burnout and vitality are now very trendy words and a large market has emerged for them. Ensuring good energy management ensures that we are more resilient and better mentally balanced.
We all have our own biorhythm and are better able to control our own biomedical state through increasingly new and better insights. In addition to the mental and psychological aspect, the biomedical aspect can have a valuable impact on how we feel and in particular how energized we feel.
How does it work in practice?
- Eat and drink healthy enough
- Activate your body in the morning - find an activity that you can do well in an average of 10 - 15 minutes (for example jogging in combination with push-ups)
- Use your positive energy throughout the day - Listen to your body - take plenty of rest
- Set athletic goals and progress - make sure you progress and use sports to create a winning mindset that will benefit you in your job
Another much-discussed term that has been popping up frequently in recent years is the term - flow. Flow refers to an ideal performance state, in which you are more energetic, more creative, more flexible and more productive. One also speaks of a peak experience. Three conditions play a role in this; 1. balance between challenges and the skills you need to successfully complete the task, 2. There should be clear and direct feedback throughout the task, so that you can anticipate changing circumstances, 3. The activity should have clear goals , giving direction and structure to the task. Flow is a condition that happens to you and that cannot be controlled directly. However, you can influence it to increase the chance.
How does it work in practice?
- There must be intrinsic motivation
- Qualities and interests must match the duties and responsibilities
- Keep your motivation by regularly asking for feedback
10. Do you believe in your own abilities or not?
How convinced are you of your own capabilities? Do you believe you can achieve your goals? How motivated are you to do everything you can to get where you want to go? It doesn’t matter how you name it, all movement you want to create starts with your own belief as to whether you can do it or you can’t. Do you not yet have this belief, do you not yet have the self-confidence, but do you want to? Then it is important to work in small steps on the belief in your own abilities and your self-confidence.
‘It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of their challenges’ – Muhammed Ali
Belief in yourself is based on the belief that we can influence our lives (internal or external locus of control). Skills and performance are affected by our beliefs. For example, a person may have the right skills, but if the faith or belief is lacking, no good performance will follow.
Different research by Baumeister and Crocker & Park has led to the - two-factor approach - that states that self-confidence is a combination of skill and dignity. Skill refers to proficiency in a particular activity. Dignity is about having a positive self-image or self-esteem. Self-esteem is determined by, among other things, the ideas you have about yourself. A stable and high self-confidence consists of a combination of skill and dignity. People can differ in their dignity and skill, causing imbalance. Someone who bases great self-confidence on dignity, but lacking skill, may appear arrogant. Perfectionism can be an example of the other extreme. People have developed a lot in their skills, but deep down they are very insecure. They mainly base their self-esteem on their performance. Optimal self-confidence is a stable combination of skill and dignity. There are several ways to work on your dignity and skills. Dignity is mainly about your thoughts, beliefs and values and your way of interpreting. Developing skills is mainly about practicing and doing, but it is also about believing in your own capabilities and daring to hope.
How does it work in practise?
- Explore what your inner voice is telling you - does it encourage you? Or not?
- What about your dignity and skill? Is there an imbalance? Initiate constructive actions for an optimal balance
- Develop hope and belief in your own abilities. A negative event is followed by either hope or despair. Despair leads to a negative spiral and hope creates an upward spiral. Optimistic and hopeful people last longer on a task and are better able to deal with stress
- Formulate (hopeful) goals (for example, that go towards a desired outcome), think up ways to achieve the goal (including alternative routes), trust yourself to achieve your goal (can do mentality - I will succeed)
- Psychologist Albert Bandura developed four ways to increase belief in yourself; modelling (imitating others), support (find someone who believes in you), dealing with fear (don't take fear too seriously, but experiment with it) and experience (practice makes perfect)
Since I am a 100% convinced that people are capable of so much more than they themselves realize, I find it very exciting to help people in this process of self-discovery. Hopefully this blog offers interesting insights and practical tips to apply in your daily practice. Where there is a will there is a way - I am 100% convinced of this!
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
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