Your perspective can kill you.
For some time now debate has raged between those who believe that hard work “never killed anyone” and others who claim stress is killing us.
They may both be right.
In a recent TED talk health pyschologist Kelly McGonigal held that emerging research suggests our beliefs about stress and its effects may actually determine what stress does to us (if anything). That is, we can decide whether stress will hurt us or prepare us.
Further, she postulated we can actually change our perception of stress – our beliefs – if we work to.
This is good news for some people I know.
Long ago Henry Ford said whether you believe you can or can't you're right. Apparently he and Ms McGonigal drank from the same well. I've had that water too.
Like you I stuggle with projects, experiences and days that don't go well. Don't end up as I wished. Last night I had that experience. Something important to me – with relationships I care about – didn't go very well.
Mind you, it wasn't bad, but like most high performers I expect things to be very good all the time: average is not a word I use.
Yet, just like Kelly or Henry might have predicted, I experienced what I did because of my thinking. I didn't go into my late night meeting with my game face on, my head screwed on straight and my beliefs intact but let the fact that I was tired (my fault) lead me down the path of gloom.
You can't fake greatness though: your operating system shows through every time.
So what to do?
The implications about our core beliefs and their impact on our work then is kind of stunning. If you believe what Ms McGonigal and Mr Ford have held then maybe intelligence, drive and effort alone won't be sufficient. Your perception is going to have a real influence on your outcomes.
- Think your teammates aren't up to the task? They probably won't be
- Your boss doesn't understand your value? She probably won't
- Your job, your company, you life sucks? Probably will
Here's the deal: we all get pretty much what we believe we should. “Believe” as in work for and towards, not “wish” as in I wish I had a million dollars.
Beliefs drive performance whether that's high or low. There is no common reality per se: we all get to perceive the world the way we want. So how are your beliefs working for you (thank you Dr Phil).
Maybe its time for a quick self-assessment: are those beliefs you've been carrying around helping or hurting you? Be honest with yourself knowing that you can always change them.
Easily, no, but possible, yes.
Examine the way you're looking at the world and if you need to make adjustments do the heavy lifting necessary to make changes to your core beliefs.
And, if you're happy with where you are?
Get back to work: it won't kill you.