Underperforming your potential? Time to change!

If you’ve ever led a meeting or given a presentation, put yourself in my place for this story. What would you do as the meeting facilitator?

I was presenting to about 30 folks at a corporate retreat that combined a day of strategic planning with a day of confidence-building training. While teaching how to stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts, this lovely 30-something woman in a stunning black suit raised her hand. When I called on her, she stood up, put her hands on her hips, sighed deeply and loudly, and said, “TC, I don’t necessarily agree with you. I’ve been trying to lose weight for years. You know what I do? I stand naked in front of the mirror every day and say, ‘You are fat and ugly.'”

Remember, this wasn’t a personal-growth seminar, nor was it Weight Watchers. This was a corporate retreat with strategic planning and confidence training. So, for me, it was a nightmare. I had no idea what to say, and everyone was staring at me with their eyebrows raised and mouths hanging open in shock. So I asked, “Has that helped you?” As soon as I asked the question, I regretted it. I thought she’d say something like, “Of course it helped me; I used to weigh 225 pounds! Do you think I’d stand up here and tell you this if it hadn’t helped me?” (That was my automatic negative thought!)

But she didn’t. She slowly sank back into her chair and said, “No.” It was then I realized that beating yourself up emotionally keeps you the same. Why? Because you’re using all of your energy to beat yourself up instead of using it to make a positive change!

Underperformers are almost always great at beating themselves up emotionally. High performers deal with mistakes differently. They’re extremely critical of themselves, but they use their critical evaluation to change and improve, not to beat themselves up with negative thoughts and statements.

This can confuse people because it appears that high performers are really hard on themselves with their thorough self-critiques. Again, the difference is that high performers mobilize their energy to improve themselves rather than just beat themselves up. Some high performers learn to overcome automatic negative thoughts so well that the thoughts are almost nonexistent. Here’s an amazing one-minute video of how Jeremy Bloom, a three-time world-champion freestyle skier turned successful entrepreneur, overcomes negative automatic thoughts. He credits this technique with allowing him to ski to his potential and dominate his sport.