As an entrepreneur all my life I have learned to listen to what my instincts tell me. Not only those, “first impression” type instincts that have been well documented by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” but equally important are those nagging instincts. You know the ones, where something is happening, or about to happen but it just doesn’t feel right. It sits there in the back of your mind, chirping up in the form of self-talk every now and then and distracting you from whatever you are currently doing – including sleeping! Re-occurring self-talk, good or bad, needs to be paid attention to as it is your sub-conscious asserting itself.
So here is my simple rule to follow – if the same self-talk message comes up on 3 separate occasions then it is time to get it out into the open. Whether the consequences of doing this are good or bad, it is important to get it out and express it to someone else. Hopefully that someone else could be equally affected by the thought so then they can verify or deny the thought. Hopefully if it is negative self-talk then the first step of expressing it will establish a path to a positive outcome and of course if it is positive self-talk then expressing it will reinforce its presence.
One example of this was in my role of volunteer coaching in basketball at White Rock Christian Academy (“WRCA”). A number of years ago I witnessed what great lengths competitive coaches will go to win, including looking for even a minor technical rule infringement to call foul. In this case, a competing coach realized that I played a Grade 6 player (my son Jordan) in a Grade 8 basketball game – a technical rule violation that I was not aware of. So he complained at the end of the season before playoffs started and we had to forfeit all the games that Jordan played in – which was all of them. So we went from a 10 – 0 record to a 0 – 10 record and did not make the playoffs – and of course this meant the complaining coaches team did make the playoffs!!! So a couple of years later as I helped coach the WRCA senior boys team I had counted the number of games we were scheduled to play and it worked out to possibly playing on 40 days (if we played all tournament games possible) during the season – and technically we are only allowed to play on 32 days. So I brought this to the Head coach’s attention and being a young, confident coach he shrugged it off with a cavalier attitude. I let it be – but then sure enough over the next week or so the thought “we shouldn’t risk playing on 40 days because someone out there will turn that technicality against us” kept coming up for me. So…3 Times…you are out!
I wrote a detailed email to the head coach expressing my concern that the success of the WRCA basketball program is always subject to intense scrutiny and that if we are offside in any way then it will come back to haunt us. After he reconsidered the rationale I put forth he agreed, cancelled some exhibition games and one tournament and we were scheduled for 32 playing days. So then we were able to give it our best shot at winning a provincial title, which we were successful in doing, and rest easy that we stayed onside!!! This is a strong indication of how the moral fiber within us can resonate – by sub-consciously pushing forward the negative thought and then if it is expressed and dealt with a very positive outcome can occur.
A more recent entrepreneurial business example is within the iFinance business which my partner and I shared equal ownership in. Over the 9 years of our business partnership we were successful in growing a profitable reoccurring revenue stream but when the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) took issue with our business structure and reassessed our investors we had to change our business model. We didn’t abandon our investors, on the contrary, we engaged and paid for legal counsel to act on our investors behalf in defending the CRA allegations – a matter which is still currently in dispute. Over a couple of years of establishing a new revenue model my self-talk kept nagging me that my partner and I were not on the same page. Using the service of a business coach wasn’t getting us there either, so finally I made the tough decision to acknowledge my sub-conscious telling me that the relationship was over and exercised a “shot-gun” provision within our shareholder agreement to have either myself or my partner bought out by the other. The beauty of a shot-gun clause is that everything happens quickly – so within 30 days of my exercising it I had the full proceeds of selling my half of the business to my partner. From a moral fiber perspective it felt good for me to face the reoccurring self-talk, acknowledge it and now be free to move on to what the next entrepreneurial success for me will be!!! I certainly don’t regret not being involved in that business because as an entrepreneur I am confident that I can create a new one and that creation process is a very satisfying one for me.
So as you move through your life pay attention to those nagging self-talk issues and when they occur three or more times deal with them in a pro-active manner and that will clear the way for your life to continue to positively evolve. Remember……3 times….you are out!