The Inner Game of Success
By Sonya Yeh Spencer, ITA Certified NLP Trainer, Advanced NLP Coach
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind, no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make all the difference between success and failure in the outer game.” ~ Tim Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”
As a trainer and a coach, I often work with our students and clients in a specific way. I found for most of them to change or for a team to change their behaviour, three elements need to be in place in order for anything to happen and for the change to stick. These elements are:
- A conscious understanding of the principles, intentions, philosophies and reasons why they need to do certain things or make certain changes. This is about the ‘why’ and a higher level of understanding or view of the landscape in which they are creating the change.
- A framework to follow, to create the change. This is the ‘how’ and the connecting piece that translates the high level view into detailed deliverables to generate tangible results.
- The internal emotional shift (or state shift in NLP terms) that enables the above two elements to take place. This is the ‘Inner Game’, and it can be a very deep structural change within the individual in the forms of personal identity. In the case of personal change and performance enhancements, it could be anything that relates to a person’s sense of self worth, confidence, esteem, what can or cannot be done, who they are and much more. This inner game will affect how they perform in their outer game, specifically referring to the ‘how’ element.
This 2 part article is an explanation of the complex dynamics of our self identify / self image and how it might feed into our Autonomic Success Engine (ASE) and form the Autonomic Success Guiding System (ASGS), which we introduced to you in an earlier article :The Journey to Realise Your Future
– We will also share with you ways to work with your self-image / self-identity to create more success.
– We will also provide you with a supplementary article on the Reticular Activating System and its potential role in forming and shaping our self image / self identify.
– Lastly, before you start reading this article in full: For all NLP trained readers, we like to propose that this Self Image / Self Identity is one of our filters and it can be accessed via our First Access. You might like to experience this with various NLP processes. We teach our students to identify their self image / identity and monitor how their self image / identity might shift and change as they gain more self understanding, skills and knowledge. You may wish to get in touch with us for any feedback or off line discussions, we fully welcome such discussions that might further yours or our own understanding on this topic, which currently very limited research has been done.
How you see and value yourself will shape your success
Reflect on your own experiences and people you have met. Has there ever been a time that you have spotted a great opportunity to advance your current situation and in fact you can see how to do it so clearly you might have even be surprised. Did you go ahead and make it happen? If you did, what made you take that step forward to make it happen? If you did not, what stopped you? Have you ever heard yourself or others saying “I don’t think I can do that, it is not for me?” There is nothing wrong with knowing what is ‘for you’ or ‘not for you’.
It is interesting that we have an internal system that compares what was proposed to you with whatever that was deemed ‘for you’ or ‘not for you’. How do you do it? How do you decide what is you or not you? Ask yourself a simple question, “Who am I?” or “What kind of person am I?” – and hearing your own descriptions. Have you ever acted according to the descriptions you just supplied? How about asking yourself “What is my role in life, in my company, in my families, in my team?”. How does the way you see your role and who you are influence the way you relate to others? How is the way you see yourself consistent with the way you make decisions or work through emotions, or how you deal with life’s challenges, your approach to change, how you communicate with your boss or team members or create possibilities in life?
We act according to how we see ourselves, our own identity, which includes the role we play, what kind of person we are, and what are our own perceived qualities and deficiencies.
In the book “Psychology of Occupation” by Anne Roe, a researcher from Yale University, and as a Harvard Professor Emerita, makes the point that, within limits, occupational choice may be taken as an indication of some aspects of self-image.
This view of ourselves can enrich our life experiences and create success in life. It might also impoverish our existence and block our chances to realise our potential.
Living without limits = Success
Success for my own self has always been more than just money or status. So success for me is about fulfilling our potential to be happy, healthy, and skilful in my profession, have positive influences on myself and people around me and having the resources to generate more success.
How we see ourselves and define who we are often is not conscious to us. However, I would like to propose that it demonstrates its impact in several ways, which I have listed below for your consideration – and this is not as an exhaustive list:
- Our emotional reactions to challenges
- Our emotional reactions to our perceived deficiencies
- Our level of self acceptance
- The value we put on our own importance
- Our sense of purpose or lack of purpose in life
- Our ability to create necessary changes in life to have more fulfilment
- Experiencing repeated behavioural patterns and situations that might or might not be beneficial
How is this self image created?
The Self-Image Psychologists propose that there are three ways that a person might form their self image:
- As a result of how the individual sees him / her self
- As a result of how others sees him / her self
- As a result of how individuals perceive how others sees him / her self
I would like to further speculate, based on many client cases, that the process of Imprinting shaped our initial view of ourselves. We in some ways, at a young, age, “adopted” without consciously making the decision, the view of who we are, from the people that were closest to us. We then used this perception as our own and as a filter to interpret how others might perceive us, often without evaluation.
We then create what social and cognitive psychologists would call a Self-Schema, which refers to a set of ideas and beliefs about themselves in a context or role they play in a context. For example, a person who identifies him / herself as a “CEO” will behave according to the “CEO” schema at work. When she / he is off work and arrive home, they might assume the role of a mother or father and behave according to the “Parent” schema. This Self-Schema influences the way we think, experience and remember. Much research has shown that information referring to the self is preferentially encoded, as is demonstrated in memory and recall tests.
Whatever you believe about yourself – you will work to prove that it is true
Dr. Prescott Lecky, one of the pioneers in Self-Image Psychology, had identified that a Self-Schema consists of a system of ideas about the self, and that all of the ideas must be consistent with each other. Ideas about self that are inconsistent are often rejected as “that cannot be true” or “I don’t believe it” and any ideas that are inconsistent with the Self-Image will not be acted upon. This rejection will occur even though the person might know consciously that by acting on some of these ideas might bring them beneficial results. Anything that is consistent with this Self-Image and the system of ideas are accepted and acted upon. When a person chooses to act upon ideas that match their own Self-Image, it works to re-enforce the very Self-Image and provides the self fulfilling prophecy.
Lecky in his early career as a school teacher had a theory about students who do not succeed in the school environment or have trouble learning certain subjects. He believed that the reason why some students are having trouble is because, from the student’s point of view that what he / she is studying is inconsistent with his / her Self-Image. Lecky believed also that if the Self-Image can be changed by helping students to re-define themselves, and in turn the student’s ability to learn will also change.
His theory was proven by various experiments that he conducted – he helped students who were deemed unteachable to succeed. He then further expanded his theory to a Self-Consistency theory and stated that the need to maintain their self-image is the prime motivation in human behaviour. He stated:
“people can only be true to themselves. Individuals will behave in a way that is consistent with their self concept, even if this behaviour is otherwise unrewarding to them.”
Take a moment now, and reflect upon this…. Does what has been described in this article ring true to you? How did you feel when you did not act according to how you see yourself last time?
Reflect also about how you see yourself and how much of it have shaped who you are today.
In the next instalment I will explain how this Self-Image does and our Self-Concept formed the Autonomic Success Engine (ASE) and the Autonomic Success Guidance System (ASG) and how you can re-shape your Self-Image and Self-Concept with NLP to really shape your future and taking charge to realise your potential.