You Get the Results You Train For

by Kevin Ciccotti, CPCC, PCC

Life provides us with many lessons if we are paying attention. About 15 years ago I had one such lesson. I was in the process of working toward my coaching credentials, and was struggling at the time with staying focused on the task ahead and pushing through the discomfort and uncertainty of what was required. I can honestly say that my coping strategies included distracting myself from the work and discipline required, and that led to my procrastinating.

I was uncertain and even anxious about my ability to navigate the rigorous process ahead, despite the fact that I had done well throughout my training. Not to mention I absolutely loved what I was doing. In an open and honest conversation with a good friend about my challenge, he said, “Kevin, you get the results you train for.”

I’ll be honest. I didn’t like that answer. It wasn’t convenient, and it certainly didn’t support my inner narrative at the time. But it was 100% true. And I knew it. You get the results you train for. What was I training for through my daily habits of thinking and self-talk?

That statement holds true in every area of life and leadership. Sometimes we’re facing what appears to be an insurmountable challenge, and our inner dialog reinforces the idea that it is indeed intractable. The most likely outcome from that is to do what I was doing, basically ignore the problem and hope it goes away. That is, unless we take a different approach.

It’s far too easy to allow ourselves to go on autopilot throughout the day. In fact, our minds are designed to do just that. But autopilot doesn’t get it done. You know it, and I know it. Effective leadership requires intentionality, focus, and discipline.

Some are shy about stepping into a stronger leadership role due to fear of failure. For others, it centers on the approval (or disapproval) of others. Still others because of the effort it requires and the demands of leadership. Whatever the reason, our thoughts about those things create our feelings, which drive our effort, and in turn produce our results.

If you don’t like the results you’re getting, you need go no further than to investigate your thinking. The loudest voice we hear on a daily basis is our own. Our self-talk is powerful and pervasive. And the ongoing pattern of our thinking literally molds and sculpts our consciousness due to its repetitive nature.

How do we train our minds for success? Here are four tips to help:

  1. Challenge your own thinking. This one can be tough, because we have thousands of thoughts every day. Most of them go unnoticed. All of them have some power over us. Notice how you are thinking the moment you feel any reaction to what is happening around you. What thoughts are you noticing? Can you say with certainty that those thoughts are true? If not, what else could be true? Can you reframe the situation?
  2. Practice positive self-talk. If you pay attention to your self-talk on a consistent basis, will you notice more positive or negative self-talk? If you’re like most, you’ll likely notice a definite imbalance toward the negative side. To be sure, we will never eliminate completely those negative thoughts. However, with practice we can tip the scales toward the positive side of things. Remember, thinking drives effort which produces results. It’s nearly impossible to create positive results from negative thinking.
  3. Practice self-compassion. This isn’t about overlooking our mistakes or shortcomings, but rather about not attacking ourselves for them. Self-compassion involves recognizing that we’re all imperfect, make mistakes, and have serious life (and work) challenges. By mindfully reflecting on these aspects of our lives, we neither amplify nor avoid our painful thoughts and emotions. And when we learn to be compassionate toward ourselves, we then are more apt to extend that same compassion to others in our life.
  4. Learn to associate positive feelings and rewards with the discipline and effort required. We associate feelings with the tasks we have in front of us. And like those thousands of thoughts we have, we tend to not notice a lot of those feelings. In her book The 5 Second Rule, author Mel Robbins says, “If we waited until we ‘felt like it’ to do the things we have to do, we would never get anything done!” It’s association. Do I associate pain with the task at hand? If so, I’ll engage in the numbing and distracting tactics that are most habitual to me. What if I learn to instead associate positive feelings with the completion of the task? It may sound like a trivial distinction, but it isn’t. When I associate negative thoughts/feelings with a task, that task becomes distasteful to me and I am less likely to find the initiative to complete it in a timely fashion. When I instead associate positive thoughts/feelings with its completion, I’m focusing my energy on the reward I will feel from actually completing the task. Moving toward what I want instead of away from what I don’t want.

All of these take time and practice. And it’s well worth the effort. But don’t take my word for it. Do the work yourself and see how a little bit of focused training can help produce the results you desire. Because you get the results you train for.

Get the Results You Train For: Elevate your Leadership Potential

To learn more about building culture and executive coaching, reach out to Kevin for a consultation.