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A Recipe for “Eggcellence”

Only a few months ago Maree and I were sitting at breakfast in a Canberra hotel with some very successful ballroom dancers and teachers. While I was enjoying my bacon and eggs, I began to ponder … why are there so many ways to enjoy an egg … why is it one dancer will struggle to achieve, while another will soar to great heights … what has that got to do with eggs? Well … let me draw an analogy between eggs, dancers and in fact everyone else who seeks to achieve a high level of success that became intriguing for me as we continued our breakfast.

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Raw egg. Imagine a raw egg as untouched talent, its basic nature undeveloped, raw  material ready to be developed / modified… to become. All dancers start here; some never move past this point.

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Hard boiled egg. This egg is still inside its shell. From the outside, nothing is different. We often see this in beginning, and even more advanced dancers. It all becomes too hard for them, and the barriers go up. Unless you can break through the barriers nothing will change. They are not willing to try something too new; it scares them, and they fail to progress as a result.

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Fried egg. Here is an egg that has been changed by outside forces, its structure now modified. However, it will never be more than it is now. It always ends up as a fried egg no matter how it is cracked open, and no matter how it’s “cooked”. It can be big or small, over or under cooked, but it is still just a fried egg. Dancers like this also produce the same results every time – they may take lessons, even train, but nothing new happens, no further growth occurs – they never break out of their shell and “test the waters”. Typically, such dancers “know everything”, and are usually unwilling or not prepared to listen to teachers and peers and unlikely to make any changes in their approach to dancing. Basically, they have their head between their legs, and will continue to produce the same outcome time after time, just as a fried egg will be essentially the same, no matters who cooks it.

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Omelette. Imagine cracking open an egg, and pouring the contents into a bowl. We have the same raw material as with all the eggs above. However, it is what happens to the egg from here that makes all the difference. As the egg is beaten and milk added, change occurs. An omelette will be as individual, and as successful, as its maker would wish. It reflects a combination of initial raw material and influence from the chef. If this were a dancer, we would have someone who is prepared to listen and look for change. They have the same potential as the other eggs, but are different in that they are prepared to allow someone outside themselves to make changes to those resources. By changing the structure (beating the egg – teaching and training), and adding ingredients (spices, tomato, mushrooms – belief, expression, attitude) we create a unique dancer – one who is looking for, and accepting of, change.

The end product will reflect the input.

Real difference comes from how the egg changes and grows.

What you add is what you get. For example, from a dancing perspective adding certain ingredients will lead to a ballroom dancer, others may develop a hip hop dancer, and so on. So, have you determined what type of “egg” you are? If you are still reading this, I guess you must be an “omelette”.

Now we’ve established that, let’s see how a dancer can put themselves “at risk” of advancing and growing. You … your teacher/coach … your dance partner(s) – together you form a team whose aim is to critically:

  • identify who and where you are now
  • determine who and where you need to be
  • investigate and plan how you intend to get there
  • recognise when you have “arrived”
  • accept there will always be more to achieve.

Sounds a bit like writing a recipe for a fantastic omelette? Well, a chef may put his resources, ideas and creativity into a book of recipes. Where might you, as a dancer, store your ideas, resources and the like? Imagine a box – you can create it in any size, colour and shape. This will be your Performance Toolbox – the place in your mind where you can store your collection of mental and emotional resources that can be drawn upon at will to support you when dancing. Your Toolbox is a collection of advice from your teacher/coach, along with those thoughts and beliefs you have already seen elsewhere (eg in other dancers) that you believe can benefit you as you progress – focus … attitude … motivation … perseverance … determination … and more.

Your Toolbox is an open box – ie one from which you can draw inspiration, and one you can easily add to over time. So, be a sponge. Listen to teachers and coaches. Be prepared to experiment with new ideas. Don’t judge until you have fully explored a concept or a piece of advice. Your Toolbox will follow you everywhere – to training, to a performance, even when you are quietly thinking about things in general. It is your recipe for dancing success. Treasure it, and nurture it over time. Be willing to look inside it when necessary and draw upon any and every element that will assist you when needed. You may need only some resources, you may need quite a lot. In any case, they belong to you, and they will become your signature, your defining character.

So, Bon Appetite, because a menu is but the beginning of a great meal …

Imagine to Succeed

Would we be right in assuming that every one of you have a vision – a vision of the person you believe is everything you could be? We expect you have dreamed and imagined what it would be like to be that person. However, have you ever really thought about it from the opposite direction? How did that person arrive at their destination? What did they go through to arrive where they are today? Consider this.

Success is something that is created in the mind before it shows externally in the various guises that other people recognise as success.

An individual needs to have a clear image of what he/she wants in order to be able to manifest the outcomes.

Once a person has the ability to create that image they then need to embrace focus (what needs to be done), motivation (keep doing what needs to be done), belief (recognising they have the ability), awareness (of what impacts on their growth) and perseverance (keep working if success is to be achieved)

Image 1We have a challenge for you … jot down say three people you believe epitomise success. For each, consider:

1.  what is their area of success …

2. what are the signs of their success that stand out to you …

3. what skills / attributes / attitudes do they display that you believe got them where they are right now …

There are no right or wrong answers, just your observations and perceptions.

Now we’d like you to imagine a big funnel to channel all the attributes, skills and so on you discovered into yourself.

Then ask yourself this question – what would it be like if I had all these RIGHT NOW … would it make a difference? 

Sounds easy, doesn’t it – imagine having them, and then presto … you’re the next “success story”. Hmmm, perhaps it might take just a little more effort than that. So how can you make it happen, because it is possible for you to be all that you aspire to be. In fact, the above exercise takes a great deal of time and commitment, not to mention belief.

Let’s go further. Find a quiet place and think about the qualities etc you channelled through your funnel above “Try each on for size” – ie immerse yourself in how it feels to have that quality, what you see or hear. Turn up the sound, brighten the colours, intensify the feelings. Do the same for each, discarding or adding elements as you go. Who knows, you may well come up with a whole new you –with all the skills, attitudes and attributes you need to be successful. – a “blueprint” for the new you.

You may wish to spend some time “living” in this new you when possible over a week or so. As you go, you will find the elements within may adjust a little, with some parts becoming redundant, others more powerful and, hopefully, the whole experience quite comfortable and rewarding.

Now, think back to when this “new you” was not yet invented. Try re-living that experience now, as if you were the new you at that time – notice how it feels, what you hear and see – is it differentis it betteris it what you thought it should be. Re-visit this step until you are happy with your experience. Then, move forward in time, visiting various experiences as the new you, enjoying the excitement of becoming the person you aspire to be. As a last step, project yourself into a future time and imagine yourself with all these new qualities at your disposal.

Make no mistake – the above alone will not make you a great success … there is no substitute for plain hard work and committed effort. However, your mind and emotions do play a very large part in your growth, and when employed as part of your daily regimen, visualising techniques like this can have a huge impact on where you end up.

No “champion” got there on talent alone, so perhaps you may like to spend some of your valuable private time creating an image in your mind of where you’re heading. Let us leave you with this thought:

 “I know you saw me … but did you actually see me as I thought I did”

Successful people visualise what they want before they can make it happen. But that by itself is no more than a start – focusperseveranceself beliefmotivationawareness … these all play their part in your success story. However, one step at a time.

The CORE Principle… a recipe for success

As a Relationship Psychologist I often talk with people who are looking for a “magic formula” – the secret to success.
Does it exist? Possibly.
However, let me introduce what I call the CORE Principle, a recipe for generating success that relies on YOU.

Confidence:

Confidence is the driving force behind performance. Increased confidence leads to increased success, which increases confidence, then success, and so on… a cyclic effect. An individual lacking in confidence may see success as the result of “luck” rather than skill/ability. In so doing, such people are more at risk of experiencing feelings of being over-whelmed, stressed, poorly focused, lacking concentration and even fearing failure.
Individuals who are consistently “on the mark” focus on the present moment. They trust their abilities, and don’t allow mistakes to impede their actions. They are leveraging their self-confidence to capture and engage the power of their beliefs, attitudes and thoughts about their ability to create a consistently strong performance in whatever they are doing 

The more confidence you have in your abilities – and yourself – the more likely you will execute a strong performance … all the time.

Overcoming roadblocks:

Confidence can be a very fragile thing. It is often built up or broken down purely as a result of the “signals” being sent from significant others – fellow workmates, team mates, family, past experiences and even from within.

For those struggling to grow/maintain their confidence there are some common roadblocks that can be overcome to move forward.

  • High expectations – “All or nothing” mentality – if expectations are set at an unrealistically high level it can be a recipe for failure.
  • Self-doubt – Having “butterflies” prior to doing something important is normal – letting it grow to nervousness and fear can be detrimental to a good and well-rehearsed outcome.
  • Listening to others – Receiving a “tongue lashing” from your partner or even your mates can greatly impact on self confidence.
  • Not believing you can do it – Start to wonder why the effort to practice and perform should be made in the first place, as the end result is “obvious”.
  • Negative past experiences – “Ordinary” people utilise their past negative experiences to influence present challenges and often fail to focus on the task at hand.
  • Perfectionism – Failure to accomplish “perfectionist expectations” creates doubt in place of belief, leading to self talk such as “am I really as good as I thought I was”.
  • Lack of belief in method/mechanics – To not fully believe you have the most appropriate skills or a lack of talent and so on, can seriously undermine confidence.  

Resolution:

 Individuals who experience confidence-related issues are not necessarily destined for failure.

Consider the following:

  • Quality practice – Apply the principle of focused practice instead of the more “normal” long hours of hard slogging when undertaking the learning of something new, eg a skill, a technique and the like.
  • Believe in your ability – Believing you have prepared yourself to the best of your ability, and trusting yourself to “do the job at hand”, will lessen the potential for tension and nervousness.
  • Seek positive people – Those who surround themselves with people who demonstrate positive beliefs can find they are more likely to be (strongly) supported rather than belittled.
  • Success breeds success – Surround yourself with people who are successful. Discover what they do well, and how they do it; learn from how they handle mistakes.
  • Fitness routine –A regimen for body and mind heath, once established, can boost your confidence in achieving your goals.

Engagement:

The first step to greater confidence starts with keeping a journal of the times you think confidently, as opposed to doubting your ability.
Identifying when/how the confident versus doubting thoughts occur can serve toward developing a plan of action to move forward.
Next, keep a journal of what you have dome well in the past. This can reinforce the belief that the skills to perform well actually do exist, and build trust that your abilities will lead to improved performance in the future.

In all you do, your confidence can be greatly improved though positive self talk.

Practice using statements like:

  • I have earned the right to act with confidence.
  • I use errors/mistakes as opportunities to grow.
  • I will keep my composure even when a mistake is made.
  • I will seek to utilise only confidence-boosting thoughts.
  • I am in control of my thoughts, beliefs and abilities.
  • No-one else can control how I perform.

Be proactive… accept responsibility for your own thoughts and beliefs.

Remember, success builds confidence, confidence leads to success, and… yes, it really is a cycle.