#7 Positive Programming
The first conscious level, where we start learning to embrace the present, is called Positive Programming. This is where everyone else starts to play!
Positive programming is the first conscious level in terms of managing performance and I think this is where everybody else starts. The first three levels: values levels; emotions; and beliefs, are ignored by most coaches and trainers. At best, you will be left to cope with those issues. Where they start is positive programming, trying to change the unconscious, consciously. This is incredibly hard to do but provides lots of work for psychologists, psychiatrists, trainers and coaches. Their problem is, they are all going about it the wrong way.
Remember the two-year-old being told no 200 times a day. If you take out all the negative you’ve got to replace that with something. This is where positive programming comes in. If you think about the influences on your own life, from television, radio, newspapers, social media, or anything online, a lot of those influences on you are manipulative. They’re designed to achieve a result that may not be immediately obvious to you.
Take the well-known example of the soap opera. Most people don’t know that soap operas literally were designed to sell soap. The idea came about because soap manufacturers wanted to sell more soap. They needed to have daytime television because daytime television would be watched by bored housewives. Then if they’re watching the soap operas we can have adverts and we can sell them soap. That’s literally how it all started. You’ll notice that soap operas always have a cliffhanger at the end. You’ll remember ‘Who killed JR?”. There’s always something that makes you want to watch the next episode because if you watch the next episode they’ve got the opportunity to sell you more soap.
This is why these programs exist; they don’t exist because some artists, screenwriters or playwrights wanted to create a piece of theatre. These people are not Shakespeare, this is commercial and it’s for making money, and it makes money from advertising. A lot of messages are actually manipulating you to make you do something, to make you buy something. They’re not there in your best interest.
It’s really important that you take charge of your own programming and that’s also true when you consider all the people around you. I don’t know who said it but it’s been said many times that your own attainment in life is likely to be the average of the five people
closest to you. So if you’re in a family of manic depressive drunks it’s likely that you are going to struggle, simply because your environment is not conducive to performance.
You may need to ration the time that you spend with people who are less than positive with you. Similarly the more positive people you have around you the more likely it is you’re going to live longer and perform at a higher level. Optimists live longer than pessimists and perform at a higher level than pessimists. They’re more successful, so make sure you’re in that optimistic group and that you have optimistic people around you.
Just to recap. First, you have to remove the negative influences from your life and that may include some people!
Once you’ve got rid of limiting beliefs and you’ve escaped the clutches of negative influences, you will have created a vacuum. It’s really important that you fill that vacuum with not just a positive, but the positive that you want.
The process we use to do that starts with your dreams. We teach clients how to construct a dream chart. This is a visual representation, often a collage of pictures of all the things that are important to the client in the future. Sometimes this is drawn as a journey, for other times it looks random. It’s whatever works for the client. Personally, I like the journey concept.
The second part of the process is then to work out what goals you have to achieve that will allow you to bring the dreams into your reality. For the goal-setting process to work properly on your unconscious mind we need to use the SMART acronym. Your goals need to be specific. We need to know exactly what they are. Nothing vague. We need them to be measurable. We need to know about your progress towards your goal. It needs to be achievable and realistic. I use these two definitions for achievable and realistic. Achievable means somebody’s done it before. Obviously for the innovators, for the explorers, you don’t be held back by someone else’s definition of what’s achievable so if you want to go for something that’s never been done before, fantastic.
Next, ask yourself, is this realistic for me? I could want to climb Everest. After all, it’s achievable. People have done it, but is it realistic for me? Probably not right now. I haven’t done any mountaineering training; I haven’t done any training at high altitude; and I haven’t planned an expedition or investigated how long the journey would take. If I really wanted to climb Everest I would need to find a way to make that dream realistic for me and maybe I would have to set some goals about fundraising and training and give myself time to make sure that I could achieve that dream.
And that brings us to T for time. In what time frame do I want to achieve my goal? I really want to program myself, so when on my future timeline will I achieve that goal?
Once I have my smart goals the next thing I want to do is to work out who I have to ‘be’ in order to do those things. If I want to achieve those goals, who do I have to be? Back to Everest again, I would have to ‘be’ a mountaineer.
If we struggle to come up with something worthwhile, we may need to complete the Top 15 exercise. This is where we access the top 15 achievements of our lives to date – btw procreation doesn’t count! Each achievement is in effect a headline. It is the headline of a story. Take one sheet of A4 paper and write the story behind the headline. Some people really struggle with this exercise but it’s a really important one because it will challenge your negative views about yourself.
Once you’ve assembled all your stories you can go through and pick out the highlights, the qualities of you at your best that you will need to access, to achieve your goals. Some clients call this their script. Whatever you call it, it becomes the thing that you look at and read to yourself at the beginning and end of every day. At the beginning of the day, you tell yourself this is who I’m going to be today and at the end of the day you ask yourself to what degree was I this person today? Keep a simple MTBF record of your score. MTBF stands for mean time between failures. If you only managed to maintain you at your best for a day, then great, your MTBF is one day. If you make it for two days, great! You’ve just doubled your MTBF and so on. All you aim to do each day is to improve by one day. That’s it. No more, no less.
As well as your script, some people use affirmations or ‘I am’ statements to define who they are. When you inject the statements with passion, emotion and drama you make them more real. This is you programming yourself.
Any awards you win or records of achievement need to be available to you visually, so in my own office all my medals for 100-mile bike rides are hanging up in one place, my coaching awards have a place, my client awards have a place, my sports trophies etc. All of these things combine to tell me at an unconscious level that I’m a successful person. These aren’t ego statements for public viewing. I’m only concerned about their effect on me as a person.
Some people talk about a concept called the 60-second attitude adjustment. Every hour of the day they check in with themselves: am I being who I need to be? Am I doing what I need to be doing? Is my attitude in the right place to achieve what I want to achieve? This process takes them less than 60 seconds every hour but acts to keep them on track for the way they want to be and do during the day. Ultimately it’s directing them towards what they want to have.
Your most important asset in your life is your own state. You should guard it as if your life depends on it, because your level of success most certainly does. The person who acts like an emotional slave with their state determined by the thoughts, words and actions of others is no more than a puppet in their own life. Don’t be that person. Take charge of your state and your emotions.
This is your best defence against all the negative manipulative influences out there: the newspapers, the TV, the radio and social media. well-meaning but ill-informed friends and family, all those who would rather you did not succeed and did not show them up. You have to ignore their voices and focus on who it is that you want to be. What is it that you want to do and what is it that you want to have in your life? When you do that you may find that you can achieve anything.
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