Human beings are designed for repetitive thinking. (Imagine the millions of decisions you would need to make daily if you had to figure out everything every time.)
Our thinking is like the drops of rain on a freshly graded gravel road. Rivulets form – the more water, the deeper and wider the rivulets become. Similarly, our thinking patterns become more entrenched each time we use them.
To get different results we need to create new rivulets – pave new neural pathways. We need to rewire our brain for better results.
Studies have been done with three groups of basketball players. The first group spent twenty minutes a day practicing free throws. The second group was told not to practice. The third group spent twenty minutes a day visualizing that they were shooting perfect baskets.
The results? The group that did nothing showed no improvement. The first group improved 24 percent. The third group improved their skill by 23 percent, almost as much as the group that did the real practice, by paving new neural pathways through visualisation.
Years ago a sports coach told me about a technique I now call ‘replaying the video’. When you act in a way that you aren’t satisfied with, simply replay the scenario in your mind and edit it. When you get the point you weren’t happy with, continue imagining the video as if you had handled the situation in the best way possible, right through to a positive conclusion. Then let it go.
The first time I used it, I had just walked out of a meeting feeling frustrated and beating myself up because I thought I had handled a situation poorly. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt – a nasty downward spiral that didn’t help anyone.
Then I remembered ‘replaying the video’. I tried it, imagining in full detail how I would have liked to handle the conversation. 20 seconds later the exercise was complete, I had stopped beating myself up, and I forgot all about it.
A few months later a similar situation arose and I handled it brilliantly. Reflecting on this afterwards, I realised what I had done was exactly as I had played the scene out in my mind after the earlier situation. I had rewired my brain, and when under pressure the behaviour and skill were there for me.
Many of my coaching clients have also found this simple technique valuable. Try it for yourself.
Where could rewiring your brain help your leadership?