Friday, December 07, 2018

The Power Of Mental Training In Sales Negotiations

In the world-championship leagues of competitive sports, no serious top athlete would even dream of preparing for an important event without the use of specialized mental training techniques. Peak performers in sports appreciate the competitive edge they get from putting their mind to work first.

But what top athletes regard as a key ingredient of successful competition, many business executives and entrepreneurs seem to view as a taboo topic. It always amazes me to see how business executives still shy away from the use of mental training techniques even when faced with complex, intercultural sales negotiations, preferring to default to their traditional way of doing things instead.

What the most successful sports stars have learned to appreciate as a key ingredient of their ability to produce peak performance in the critical moment of truth, many business professionals still seem to view as a bunch of voodoo.

When I started to investigate exactly why there was so much resistance against using these techniques, a common theme started to emerge:

Many of the people I talked with had actually tried mental strategizing, rehearsal and visualization techniques, but didn’t get the desired results, so they decided that mental training was just a waste of time.

When I asked them to explain to me exactly what visualization techniques they had used, it quickly became obvious why they had failed to experience the desired results.

They had been applying what we call flight of fancy visualization processes, instead of no doubt strategies.

In order to shift from fanciful visualization towards a state in which we fully expect to receive the successful results we want to achieve in a sales or business negotiation, we must first transform the desired outcome into a simple choice we make with clear, unwavering intention.

There are many things in life that we simply choose, and once we have made our decision, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the desired result is on its way to us. It is like turning on your coffee machine in the morning, filling it up with fresh water and coffee beans, positioning your cup or mug in the right place, pressing the right button, and hey presto – out comes your perfect espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, or whatever type of coffee you prefer.

As long as you go through the right steps, in the right sequence, and make sure that all of the specific requirements are met, you should be pretty sure to get the desired result. That is what we call a no doubt thought strategy.

But how do I actually go about developing such a strategy for my upcoming negotiation, you may ask?

In our coaching practice, we usually guide our clients through the following 5-step process:

1.    To start with, we elicit our client’s individual thought strategy and document it as a script, step-by-step, for situations in which they engage in an activity with NO doubt in their mind about their ability to create a totally successful outcome.

2.    Then we focus on the upcoming sales meeting or business negotiation they want to prepare for, using the SCORE timeline method, and developing a very precise definition of the desired outcome. In doing so we don’t just create SMART objectives, in addition we make sure that we have articulated and understood the underlying personal motives, as well as the business drivers, and their respective hierarchy. And finally we strategize with our client on ways to create a WOW factor that would take the resulting outcome to a significantly higher level than any win-win deal they would normally hope to achieve!

3.    We then walk through their typical way of preparing for such a negotiation and elicit all of the relevant elements of their mental thought strategy, or their default script for such situations (usually this includes many flight of fancy elements).

4.    The comparison of their thought processes for the upcoming negotiation with their no doubt strategies enables us to conduct a quick gap analysis to discern any major differences and understand better why past attempts at using mental training failed.

5.    And finally we change the thought strategy and script for the upcoming negotiation, so that it is perfectly in line with the individual client’s no doubt strategy, including all of the sensory bells, whistles and emotions to render it credible to his or her subconscious mind. We strongly suggest that the client should go through the resulting visualization script at least two or three times with us at the end of the coaching session, followed by repeating the mental training exercise for 5 – 10 minutes per day for at least 3 – 5 days.

Some success gurus say that practice makes perfect. However, when it comes to mental training, we have found that if you don’t practice visualization perfectly, you may end up with very disappointing results.

Learn more about how you can use advanced mental training techniques to improve the results of your sales and business negotiations at

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Power Of Removing Doubt

In order to speed up the process of making better decisions, overcoming doubt or procrastination, and creating more successful results, you must learn to transform any wish, goal or desire you may have into a simple choice you make with clear, unwavering intention.

There are many things in life that we simply choose, and once we have made our decision, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the desired result is on its way to us.

It is like turning on your coffee machine in the morning, filling it up with fresh water and coffee beans, positioning your cup or mug in the right place, pressing the right button, and hey presto – out comes your perfect espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, or whatever type of coffee you prefer.

As long as you go through the right steps, in the right sequence, and make sure that all of the specific requirements are met, you should be pretty sure to get the desired result.

Normally your coffee machine won’t mow your lawn, and it won’t drive you to work either.

I have often seen people trying to visualize and manifest things that are simply way outside of the realm of reason.

More power to them, if they still get the desired results.

However, more often than not, you will probably find that a coffee machine will only do what it is supposed to do. As long as you use the coffee machine in the right way, you should have no doubt, inner resistance or questions in your mind about the chances of getting the desired result.

In such instances, success should be a relatively unsurprising, hassle-free, normal event.

It is important to recognize that our feeling and our state of being are very different in such moments, compared to instances when we feel that we first need to overcome all kinds of obstacles, in order to reach our goal.

When we strongly desire to achieve a certain objective, we are usually heavily invested into the end result.

The problem with this approach is that our strong desire may simply confirm and cement our current state of lack (and yes, I get that you may have the same intense feeling about desperately needing a coffee first thing in the morning, too).

Emotionally fueled objectives, wishes and desires often just aggravate our perception of not being, doing or having what we really want or need.

Cravings, compulsive objective setting, as well as other addictive, driven behavior are often simply signals that our true, fundamental, personal needs are not being met.

We see a gap between where we are, and where we want to be.

We get that strong sense of lack.

And lack attracts lack (sorry, I know that is quite trite).

The more you focus on the gap or the lack, the more powerful your self-sabotage patterns may become in your life.

Now, you may say that cognitive tension is the key to creativity, the fuel of game-changing innovation – and I would tend to agree. However, cognitive tension only seems to produce positive results if you direct your focus towards creating innovative ways of closing or bridging the perceived gap – not cementing it!

Strong negative emotions about the perceived difference between your current and your desired state of being will often just widen and deepen the gap.

On the other hand, if you learn to transform your wish, goal, or desire, into something you positively expect to receive, achieve or manifest (like getting your coffee-fix in the morning),  without the slightest shadow of doubt, your state of being and the related synchronicities will dramatically change for the better.
Learn more about how to remove doubt and create breakthrough results at:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Don't Let Your RAS Mess Up Your Business Negotiations!

Every day, our brain is bombarded with millions of bits of input and data from the complex, chaotic context we live in. Somehow, it needs to organize this massive flow of information and make sense of it, and the Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a key factor in this process. The RAS is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters through the information input, picking out what is important, and eliminating the rest.

The RAS has received a lot of positive press from the self-help industry in recent years, as it enables us to maintain a clear focus and align our perceptions, thoughts, emotions and actions towards the achievement of our goals.

Your RAS identifies what you focus on most and creates a perceptual filter for it – which usually consists of a combination of beliefs, values, emotions and habitual thought patterns. It then seeks information that validates your perceptual filters, sifting through the noise, applying the search parameters your mind has developed over time, optimizing the search results and creating an increasingly intricate map of reality.

Your RAS dictates what you are able to perceive

In many ways, your RAS operates like an internet search engine, which learns about your personal profile and preferences, optimizing the search results to fit your interests better and better, every time you use your browser. This has the neat effect that the search results become more streamlined, personalized and relevant, reinforcing your perceptual filters every time you engage with the world.

But at the same time, your RAS will increasingly eliminate anything that does not fit your pre-set filters, reducing your ability to get a complete and reliable picture of what is really going in your context. This effect is well documented in the context of internet search engines, where clever algorithms effectively create a sort of  information-bubble or cocoon around us over time, reinforcing what we already believe to know, whilst preventing us from being exposed to controversial information that might challenge our world-view, force us to think through and assess reality more comprehensively, and motivate us to adjust our filters.

This is one of the reasons why two individuals conducting the same online search, using their personal browsers and preferred search engines, may get totally different search results.

Your RAS can seriously mess up your sales and business negotiations

By controlling what you are able to see, hear and sense, your RAS directly influences your beliefs, thoughts, emotions and actions. Although this provides us with many significant benefits in everyday life, this effect can have a seriously negative impact in the context of intercultural sales and business negotiations.

When coaching our corporate clients on how to improve their results in global business deals, we often find that the negotiators:

-          default to the tried-and-tested, best-practice ways of doing things they learned in their home-country

-          fail to properly observe the personal and cultural behavioral patterns and preferences of the people they are negotiating with

-          don’t have the means or experience required to interpret these patterns correctly and adapt their interactions accordingly

In many ways, the RAS of these negotiators has created a massive blind spot in their mind, making it practically impossible for them to access the information available in plain sight before them, due to the censoring effect of their perceptual filters.

You can train your RAS to provide better results

In a recent negotiation seminar, one of the course participants told me that in her native language, RAS was the word they used to describe wild, aggressive dogs. Indeed, in many ways, our RAS often behaves like an intelligent, fierce, untamed watchdog.

The more we get involved in intercultural negotiations, the more we need to train our RAS, to check, update or even reprogram the perceptual filters it applies, in order for us to understand the situational dynamics more completely and craft better, more sustainable deals.

As a first practical step in this direction, I teach my clients to activate their inner observer, enabling it to identify, understand and interpret differing patterns of behavior. In our global business world, it is becoming essential for us to proactively manage our RAS.
If we don’t, we may frequently encounter business disaster abroad.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Improving Your Mental Power

Modern neuroscience teaches that neurons in your brain that fire together wire together, creating neuro-circuits in the process. The more frequently you activate such neuro-circuits in your brain, and the more passionate or intense your feelings are in the process, the stronger the respective patterns become.

To master any skill, you need to repeat it frequently, and with intensity.

This is why my Karate Sensei taught me to practice each and every move at least 10’000 times to reach perfection. Likewise, the more you practice playing the violin, speaking a foreign language, or engaging in deep philosophical reflection, the stronger the respective neuro-circuits become.

Lao Tzu stated that we need to learn something new every day.

But he obviously knew that our ability to learn is about more than acquiring new knowledge, expanding our horizons, or establishing and strengthening neural connections.

So Lao Tzu went on to say that in order to learn something new, we first need to unlearn.

In order to establish new healthy patterns of thinking, feeling and believing, we need to unlearn the old ones.

We need to delete, overwrite, reprogram or realign old negative patterns, before we can establish new, positive neuro-circuits.

Neuroscientists call this process synaptic pruning.

Imagine your brain as a forest full of trees (which neuroscientists call dendrites), with each tree representing a thought. As in any forest, you may find tall, strong, well established, older trees, with smaller, younger, more vulnerable trees in between.

The more space, nutrients, sunlight and water a tree gets, the more it will be able to flourish, grow and prosper.

The more attention and emotional energy you invest in a thought, the stronger it becomes.

Luckily, you have the equivalent of active forest rangers, specialized cells that monitor and manage the growth of your brain forest. Some of these cells speed up growth and communication, whilst others remove the dead wood.

These specialized forest rangers can help you to overcome your self-sabotage patterns, through a process of pruning and cleaning up the synaptic connections in your brain.

Neuroscientists have found that the synaptic connections that get used least get marked by a specific protein. It seems that when your brain’s forest ranger cells detect such a marker, they attach themselves to the protein and delete the respective synaptic connection.

This is how your brain gets rid of dead wood and waste in the forest of your brain, making space for you to develop new, strong, healthy thought-trees. In order to delete unhealthy self- sabotage patterns, your brain needs to prune the respective neural connections, before you can develop better, stronger thought-trees.

Your brain goes through this pruning and cleaning process whilst you sleep.

That is why a good night’s rest will usually enable you to think more clearly. Even short naps give your brain’s forest wardens the opportunity to clean up the undergrowth and create the space required to create new, healthy thought patterns.

Thus sleep-deprivation is often a key cause of self-sabotage!

If your brain’s forest rangers don’t get enough time and opportunity to do their maintenance work, cleaning out the unhealthy growth and dead wood, your brain will become overgrown, slow and ineffective. 

You Can Help Your Forest Rangers!

According to neuroscience, it seems that you can influence what your brain’s forest wardens prune while you sleep, by consciously determining which synaptic connections need to be deleted.

The interesting fact here is that synaptic connections you don’t use get marked for deletion, whilst the thought-trees and neural connections you use frequently, and with intensity, get nurtured and supported in their growth.

This is why it is so important to monitor, manage and focus your thoughts, as well as the related emotions.

Dwelling on negative thoughts, bad experiences, old emotional wounds or even fear of the future will strengthen the respective thought-trees in your brain’s forest, crowding out any young, healthy positive thoughts you might have developed.

Beware Of The Success Gurus

Some success experts teach that you need to associate massive pain with thoughts, beliefs, behaviors or habits you wish to overcome, and at the same time associate incredible pleasure with achieving your desired goals.

This is often referred to as the “push-and-pull” approach to change management.

The logic behind this is that you get pushed or propelled forward by your need to avoid pain, loss, risk or death. And, at the same time, you get pulled towards the successful achievement of your objectives by the promise of the pleasure, joy, fulfillment and satisfaction that awaits you. In our executive coaching practice we have found that this approach seems to work well in the short term, but in the longer term, the positive effects often don’t seem to be sustainable.

The problem with this pleasure-and-pain approach is that attaching powerful, painful emotional energy to the negative patterns you wish to get rid of actually seems to strengthen the respective thought-trees.

Instead of cutting down the self-sabotage trees, this process seems to make them larger, stronger, more powerful, enabling them to physically crowd out the younger, positive thoughts you planted.

Even simply spending time thinking about your self-sabotage patterns, or why you frequently find yourself getting in your own way, will actually strengthen the respective negative thought patterns, beliefs, habits and behaviors.

Since many of these negative thoughts and feelings are toxic, they may cause your brain to release too many or too few hormones and vital nutrients into your body, causing a chemical imbalance and further physical havoc.

Why Wait?

You may be growing impatient by now, wishing to jump right in there and get things sorted out immediately, once and for all.

I empathize.

We all seem to prefer the quick fix, the shortcuts, the heroic approach of taking massive, immediate action, rather than taking the time to get things done properly.

And I have to confess, it is true that sometimes making a single, firm decision can clean out a whole set of negative thoughts, feelings, behaviors and habits in a split second.

This is what happened to my father in law.

He was a heavy, heavy smoker for most of his life.

Plus he drank loads of coffee.

He loved his food, ate plenty of it, and got very little exercise.

The doctors put him on one diet after another.

But none of them worked.

Until he had a heart-attack.

And then another.

He never touched another cigarette for the rest of his life as of that moment.

We call this shock therapy.

The ultimate quick fix.

It is very heroic.

The stuff films are made of.

But you don’t need to have a heart-attack to successfully get rid of your self-sabotage patterns and experience a real breakthrough, with sustainable, satisfying success.

Why Heroes Are Overrated

My wife is a medical doctor – an orthopedic surgeon. She often tells me that her patients will only comply with her “doctor’s orders” as long as they feel pain, or as long as the uncomfortable symptoms persist.

Most patients would prefer to simply receive a magic pill, to make the pain go away, or some cortisone, to make the rash disappear.

But if she gives them this type of medication, they typically will no longer comply with the other things she tells them to do, like:

-          change their diet, drink more water, use the supplements she prescribes

-          get more exercise on a regular basis

-          book sessions with a specialized physiotherapist

-          etc.

Even if she tells patients that they risk the amputation of a finger, a hand, an arm or a leg – that danger seems to be so far away in the distant future, that patients will not change their routines.

Patients seem to prefer risking a potential, but seemingly improbable, future loss, rather than making uncomfortable changes in the here and now.

And then, when the highly improbable event occurs, they heroically bite the bullet, and my wife needs to cut off part of their body.

Such heroic action may be impressive.

But it is not very intelligent.

Let me tell you – the body remembers the hand you lost, and it continues to feel the pain.

So, what should you do instead of this heroic approach?

The solution may seem too simple for you to believe.

But as you probably know, not everything that looks simple is actually that simple when you get down to putting it into action.

My Sensei made those Karate moves look very simple.

But it took me a long time to get them right.

As so often, knowing does not equal doing.

How To Delete Self-Sabotage Patterns

It seems that all you really need to do, in order to overcome your self-sabotage patterns, is to identify the respective negative thoughts, emotions, beliefs, habits and behaviors, and mark them for deletion.

How do you mark them?

By deliberately paying these thoughts and emotions no more attention, once you have identified them.

Starve them to death!

This may sound brutal.

But indeed, if you want to stop these self-sabotage patterns from limiting your ability to succeed, you need to be ruthless.

Once you have marked the self-sabotage thought-trees for deletion, allow your brain’s forest wardens to do their work.

Let them cut down the old, limiting, self-sabotage thought-trees you have identified, and then proactively replace them with beautiful, healthy, positive ones!

What we focus on grows, whilst what we ignore dies.

Your Mind’s Main Modes Of Operation:

According to modern psychology, it seems that your mind operates in three main modes:

1.      The growth mode, in which we engage in creative, expansive, positive, life-affirming thoughts, feelings, activities and relationships

2.      The maintenance mode, in which we operate in neutral gear, going nowhere

3.      The protective survival mode, in which we engage in defensive, conservative, risk-averse, negative, fight- or flight activities.

Your self-sabotage patterns operate in the second and third mode.

To stop these patterns, you need to move into the first, positive, creative mode.

No, this is not just about positive thinking, affirmations, declarations or incantations.

In order to operate effectively in the constructive mode of mental activity, you need to get into a state of flow and think deeply.

The Deep Thought Technique

Neuroscientists have found that you need to engage in deep, concentrated thinking for 10 – 15 minutes per day, over a period of at least one week, in order to firmly establish a new thought pattern in your brain.

The process involves 6 simple steps that you repeat frequently – ideally every day, and preferably whilst engaged in some pleasant, flowful activity (like cooking, gardening, hiking, jogging, meditating):

1.     Pick a personally relevant topic you wish to think about deeply, then consciously interrogate, assess and analyze it from all possible angles

2.     Focus on the pleasant activity you are engaged in, stop consciously thinking about the topic, get into a state of flow, and let your subconscious do the creative work. Take note of any ideas, insights, inklings or intuitive concepts that come to mind

3.     Immediately document these insights (I suggest that you keep a thought-journal)

4.     Then decide on specific, simple action steps you can take to put these insights to the test immediately

5.     Take action and document your experiences, what worked, what not, and why.
6.   Refine your approach based on the feedback received, during your next thought process, and take action to establish strong personal references and experiences.

Experience shows that if you stick with this process for two months or more, you will form a new, strong, healthy thinking habit.

Remember – you get more of what you focus on.

So learn to manage your focus.

Think deeply!

And enjoy the process.