Psycho-Cybernetics, a book first published in 1960, has influenced many of the self-help books we read today. Dr. Maxwell Maltz coined the term "psycho-cybernetics" to described the "steering [of] your mind to a productive, useful goal". The book has a feel of a workbook/manual. It provides information and then gives you the opportunity to apply and reflect.
The book trains you to lead your mind. It helps make conscious the unconscious. It gives you the tools to stop self-sabotaging yourself. For that, I highly recommend it as a must-read for leaders.
The 15 chapters and over 200 pages are an easy read. Here are 3 takeaways to whet your appetite.
Takeaway #1: Your self-image sets the boundaries of your individual accomplishment.
Our actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities are consistent with our self image. Our self-image is the aggregation of our past experiences. What others have told us, what we have observed, and what we have experienced help us to create an image of ourselves. Our self-image is our perception of we are. "I am a leader". "I am an introvert". "I am a singer". or "I am an extrovert".
We act according to what we believe of ourselves. We act according to the person we conceive ourselves to be. If you believe you are a bad public speaker, your mind will find ways to sabotage you when you speak so that it can prove you right. Our mind seeks to protect us. That includes protecting us from cognitive dissonance about our own abilities.
If you are not getting results in a certain area of life, take inventory. Look at what your belief systems are around that issue. Take a particular deep dive into the attitudes around that issue in your first 7 years of life. We pick up the programming of those around us.
A classic example is that of Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister. He is the first man in the world to run a mile under 4 minutes. Prior to that, the general consensus was that it was physically impossible for a human to run a mile under 4 minutes. After he broke that record, others were able to do so as well. Why? The physical ability was always there; it was the mental component that was holding them back. Once they changed their belief system about what was possible, their results also changed.
And that is the good news. Your self-image is not static. It can be changed.
Takeaway #2: It's not just about the knowing. You have to experience it too.
When it comes to change, knowing is not enough. How many of us have known the technicalities of a good speech, yet have flopped miserably? We know how we ought to interact with demanding colleagues, but when we get in the midst of the situation, we tend to respond out of habitual tendencies instead.
Why? Your self-image and your habits have been created by experience. You will need to create new experiences in order to re-wire your programming. Start by building new experiences. Whatever your goal might be, we learn to function successfully by experiencing success. Our success and failures are indicators as we navigate on our path.
If you want to become a master presenter, but have faltered in most of your presentations, how can you create new experiences to change your self image? Start small. Speak up at a meeting; perhaps it will be only a question. Create a small success, and then build upon it. Be faithful in the small things, and the bigger things will come.
You could also borrow the successful feeling you had from one task, and approach a new task with that feeling/attitude. If you were able to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle before, tap into that feeling. Remember how it felt to achieve. Let that build your self-confidence when you are faced with a new task.
Takeaway #3: The how is not important if you don't know the what.
Your first priority is to know what you want. Know the end goal. Once you know that, you can start figuring out the how. It is similar to planning a trip. You need to know your destination before you can decide the route. Maltz also discusses our internal Success Mechanism. It is our built-in navigation system of sorts. Once you know what you want to achieve, your subconscious mind will set about figuring out the how. Sometimes that shows up as a eureka moment while you're playing tennis or in the shower. Other times, it's as simple as you noticing an article on LinkedIn that you normally wouldn't have read, but it just happens that that article is written by someone who could provide a how for you. Some people call it synchronicity, others call it intuition. Whatever name you call it by, pay attention to it.
The book dives into other topics such as:
- the power of visualization
- how to make happiness a habit
- ingredients of a success-type personality
- how to remove emotional scars
- how to handle crisis and high-pressure situations
And with that, I will leave you with this final quote from the book. Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be great.