Updated: Jan 14
"We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow." Fulton Oursler
Fulton Oursler is powerfully describing what we like to call the defensive zone mindsets. When we wander, without awareness, down paths towards regret (pity parties) or fear (negative possibilities), we are setting ourselves up for failure in 2022.
Why do we play this game? A coach once suggested that most teams don't lose to their opponent - they beat themselves! In other words, the greatest deterrent to our next potential success often comes through self-inflicted penalties. When we allow ourselves to focus on unproductive thinking, we are choosing to play short-handed.
Our Thinking Tendencies Model gives visual clarity to the thieves Fulton Oursler refers to. We are helping hundreds of organizations to better identify current thinking, and with this awareness, encourage increased offensive zone focus. The TTM below visually identifies Regret and Fear, located in what we call the Defensive Zone. Developing a deeper understanding of Past-Negative and Future-Negative Thinking allows high-performers to identify these states of mind and intentionally make adjustments. Recent science suggests that just naming particular emotions or patterns of thinking increases our ability to shift our thinking and successfully move forward.
Hijack Negative Focus
In his HBR article, The Secret Ingredient of Thriving Companies? Human Magic, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly shares the following story: "When I was still CEO, I visited one of our stores near Boston, hoping to find out why it performed better than others. I found out that the manager asked every single person on his team, 'What is your dream?' He’d then work with each of them to help achieve it, largely by linking their personal dream to the company’s purpose. That link made each employee feel personally invested in the company’s purpose and gave everyone the energy that, combined with their skills, drove much of the store’s superior performance."
Redirecting our focus away from fear and regret towards our dreams (we name this a Future-Positive focus), and how these outcome desires can become reality, is a skill well worth developing. One specific deflection skill to activate this increased focus in Future-Positive, is to ramp up your commitment to journaling. Many of my Executive Coaching clients are exploring and refocusing their mindsets by exploring them with paper and pen. We encourage our people to start journaling in three areas:
1- Past-Positive focus, gratitude, thankfulness, wins, etc.
2- Future-Positive focus, goals, dreams, gaze more on what you want
3- The Brain Dump. Place what is on your mind on the paper and free up your conscious mind to make better decisions.
Re-framing and Pre-framing
Another key cognitive skill to increase offensive zone play is practicing the concepts of re-framing and pre-framing. Developing the discipline to re-frame our negative history is powerfully influential. Ruminating on the disappointments of our lives drives huge negative energy, but, re-framing these disappointments through a learning frame increases our ability to breakout of this devastating negativity and turn your history into positive growth. Re-framing negative history is a well-developed skill in high-performers.
Pre-framing our desired future may be the most under-rated and under-utilized skill in our cognitive tool box. Pausing to visualize the future we want instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong moves us from playing short-handed to playing with a man/woman advantage! Visualization is a key solution to playing short-handed. High-Performance history has taught us that we can only hold one thought in our brain at a time. Choosing to visualize the future positive outcomes that we desire is a great use of your thinking-time. Visualize with your eyes closed; visualize with your eyes open; visualize in your journal. Seeing our Future-Positive desires happen before they happen allows us to experience the win twice.
Freedom follows awareness.
If we want to play short-handed, (turning our thinking against our success), then that's our option. But remember, freedom follows awareness. Now that you have knowledge of the two thieves who are stealing your energy, vitality, and directing your mindset, you have a choice. Aristotle said, "Thoughts are causes." Develop the skills to increase your offence! Skate away from playing short handed! Future Positive Success grows as you focus more on what you want to accomplish instead of on what disappoints you.
Many of our corporate clients are engaging our services to energize their teams, focus their cultural mindset, and brainstorm processes around how to maximize their team COMMUNICATION.