In search of the Holy Grail of Performance Management

(My recent guest post) Posted on October 10, 2012 by Tony Dowling

A very good friend of mine Sean Grey, commented on some of my recent posts on self sabotage and the conscious mind and subconscious mind. Sean was really interested in discussing his take on these areas in more detail, so I invited him to guest post below.

If you are interested in Sean’s work you should certainly get in touch – he is a lovely guy who only ever wants to help people. Anyway – over to Sean!

How do we control the subconscious programming that runs our life?

The answer to this question surely must be the stuff of dreams . . .

Imagine there was a technique that could erase self defeating thoughts, eliminate the trauma from past poor experiences/performances and help us stay calm, focused and confident regardless of the pressure? If such a thing existed, it would of course be pricless.

My good friend Tony Dowling wrote a post, ‘Our strange tendancy towards self sabotage’, inspired by the work of Michael Finnegan. The destructive power of our self talk, the fear of failure and fear of success, that often keeps us stuck in life. Following one of my comments on his blog he suggested I write an alternative approach on how to free us from its control, so here goes:

The Inner Game

Timothy Gallwey has helped many people transform their performance levels with his Inner Game books on tennis, golf, skiing and music. Understanding the battle between the conscious and subconscious mind he uses a basic formula to highlight the problem: Performance = potential – inteference.

How often do you play/perform to your potential in sport, buisness, music, life? If you know you have the passion, skill and experience but under pressure feel you are unable to give your best, it’s often because of the emotional interference (self doubt and anxiety).

The worlds top sports psychologists are well aware of the destructive power of our self defeating thoughts and there are many books, DVD’s and coaches that can help us manage the stress effectively.

However, many performers find there are times when the underlying negative emotion is so strong, that even when using all of the resources sports science can offer, they still struggle under pressure. For example, Chelsea’s £50m striker Fernando Torres losing his confidence in front of goal, and ex world number one golfers Luke Donald and Lee Westwood seemingly unable to play to their potential in a major championship. What examples of unfulfilled talent and potential can you think of?

Sometimes the destructive power of the negative emotion can finish a professional athlete/player/performers career. If a golfer/cricketer/snooker player or musician suffers from ‘yips’ the trauma of competing can force them to retire.

The heart of the problem

“When it comes to sheer neurological processing abilities, the subconscious mind is more than a million times more effective than the conscious mind. If the desires of the conscious mind conflict with the programs in the subconscious, which mind do you think will win out?

Since subconscious programs operate without the necessity of the observation and control of the concious mind, we are completley unaware that our subconscious minds are making our everyday descisions. Our lives are essentially a printout of our subconscious programs, behaviours that were fundamentally aquired from others (our parents, family and community) before we were six years old. As psychologists recognise, a majority of these developmental programs are limiting and  disempowering.” Dr Bruce H. Lipton (author of The Biology of Belief).

The solution

Dr Lipton has also found through his work, that these disempowering programs in the subconscious mind can be quickly rewritten by using energy psychology techniques, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

This is how we are able to bridge the gap and place a hand on the Holy Grail.

You may need to take a leap of faith here, but this is where I, and EFT can help. EFT can be used to deal with the power of the subconscious mind. The beliefs and programming that often ruin our life, self doubt, anxiety, poor performances from our past. EFT uses the body’s energy system to erase negative thinking. Once the negative and limiting belief has been cleared, positive affirmations can more effectively take hold, the competition has been eliminated and therefore easier to accept how we feel.

EFT is also one of the few techniques that can help free players from ‘yips’ – Probably a subject for another post!

The subconscious programming rewired

A golf professional I am working with asked me to meet with one of his players who he felt was talented but struggling to fulfill his potential.

Paul was 17 and the junior club captain. On the weekend he was to play in a competition where only the top 14 players would qualify. For the previous two years he had tried to qualify and failed. Both times he had started well but on the 9th hole he began to lose focus, his negative self talk began to do its work. He became tense, tight he lost his rhythum, confidence and his game disintergrated. He was of course fearful that the same thing would  thing would happen again.

I asked Paul to think back to that last time and recall what thoughts were going through his head at the time. The strongest negative emotions we uncovered were the fear of letting his father down, the fear of failure and making a fool of himself. We scaled the intensity of emotions from 0-10, the number was 9.

The EFT process is really simple and involves tapping your fingers on some of the body’s energy points. We tapped a couple of rounds looking to release the fear, the number Paul used dropped to a 7, 5 and then 4, Paul began to feel calmer, more relaxed.

With his mind clearer we were able to focus on the positive, how he would like to play: Calm, focussed, staying in the moment, trusting himself and his swing. Now when I asked Paul to imagine standing on the tee of the 9th hole, he felt confident and optimistic, the number had dropped to 0. He felt excited about playing – quite a turnaround!

Paul played on the weekend and qualified in 4th position, just losing out to the club captain.

In our session I was able to use EFT to take the destructive power out of Paul’s memory of his past poor performances, so when questioned about it, he literally couldn’t access the traumatic feelings of the times when his game disintergrated. With his mind free of fear he was able to go and play to his potential.

How can I help you?

Are there times in your life when you feel frustrated because under pressure you haven’t been able to show what you can do, feeling you have been sabotaged by stress? It could be a buisness meeting, playing golf, tennis or maybe performing on stage. Think of that time, what were your emotions, feelings? Fear of failure, making a mistake, forgetting the words, being emabarressed in front of your peers? Write them down and scale how you feel between 0-10 (0 no emotion, calm, 10 very stressed). Go to my video demonstrating EFT, tap through a few rounds and see if the negative vibration drops.

The tapping sequence on my video is for a musician preparing for a recital. However as long as you have written down your own challenges, you can tap through using my words and should still see a change in the way you feel – I did mention taking a leap of faith!

Let me know how you get on. I would like to have your feedback about this article and of any challenges you have in your life. If you would like to contact me in private, please use my email:

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