12/15/2014 10:15 am ET Updated Feb 14, 2015

The Implications of Understanding -- for Performance and Beyond

Take a moment and consider the implications of this statement: If a person who doesn't know that feelings can only generate from within gets insecure or angry, it will appear logical (to that person) to blame these feelings on the nearest circumstance or individual.


What implications occurred to you? Domestic violence? Road rage? Bullying? Racism? Animal cruelty? How about war? Indeed, every problem known to mankind can be traced back to a misunderstanding of where feelings come from. That's why, even though most of my work revolves around performance, I usually end my talks by saying: "What we're discussing here is not small potatoes."

But let's circle back to performance for a minute. What are the performance implications of not blaming the world around you for what's happening within you? What are the performance implications of knowing that your feelings come from the inside -- from your thinking -- and not from circumstance?

Plenty. And I'm going to use the sport of golf to illustrate. If a golfer stands over a shot, feels nervous, and looks outside to explain his nerves, here's what happens: He blocks his innate ability to overcome his nerves. If the same golfer stands over a shot, feels nervous, and does not look outside -- his nerves will fade as he automatically self-corrects. That's a pretty big implication for golfers, yes?

Let's follow this further: Because he's not self-correcting, the golfer in our first scenario will almost always reach for a shortcut -- a mental technique -- to rid his head of unwanted thoughts. But since the use of such techniques requires thought, the golfer's feelings and performance level will spiral downward even more. In other words, at the heart of any golfer's bound-up feelings is an outside-in misunderstanding (believing that feelings come from circumstance). This misunderstanding leads to steered shots, bad decisions, and self-centered behavior on and off the course.

To be clear, no person understands 100 percent that his or her feelings originate from the inside. We're all prone to miss it. That's the reason my work is strictly about deepening levels of understanding -- or pointing people in the direction of their innate ability to self-correct.

What are the implications of deeper levels of understanding? Take a moment and consider that question, too. Here's a hint, though: The answer is not small potatoes.