05/10/11

by Marilyn Devonish

Maximising your work performance can seem like hard graft. Many people are already working flat out, so the thought of maximising performance any further might seem a stretch too far or near impossible feat. The good news is that when done in the right way it can take far less time and energy to maximise your learning and performance than it does to struggle on in the tradition way.

Get Prepared

When teaching PhotoReading™, an accelerated reading and learning technique, the first step is to Prepare. In work and performance maximisation terms this would involve both preparing your environment, and getting yourself physically and mentally prepared. Because learning is partially state dependant, once you learn how to get yourself into an accelerated learning state, you can tap into this whenever you need to accelerate your performance or remember and recall what you have learnt.

I have already discussed the importance of preparation and outlined the steps in my previous article on How to Remember Your Presentation in 30 Minutes so for an overview on how to do this in a way that wakes up the neurology and links up both the left and right brain see the previous article.

Set Your Internal Radar

Set a Purpose for whatever you are about to do. This activates the part of your brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS), which is partly responsible for increasing attention and awareness. When you have a clear Purpose your mind and brain can operate more efficiently in working towards its achievement.

Test It: As a test of how quickly and efficiently your RAS is able to work when given the right guidance, set your purpose on either noticing everything that is the colour red for the next 60 minutes, or the number of times you hear or see a particular word. What you will find is that your brain kicks into gear and starts bringing the required information to the forefront of your mind and attention.

Mental Rehearsal

In the late 1980’s Denis Waitley, Author and Consultant on high performance and productivity, implemented the Visual Motor Rehearsal study with athletes from the United States Olympics programme. He found that when an athlete visualised running an event in their mind, the same muscular and nerve reactions as running a physical race fired off despite the fact the race was only being run in their mind.

Following on from this, I have found when coaching my clients around enhancing both work and physical performance, that mental rehearsal and visualisation can be a powerful way of increasing the likelihood of success.

Test It: Take some time to imagine yourself performing a task or skill. Mentally run through what you would be doing, seeing, thinking, saying and feeling when performing at your best. I often advise doing this in pockets of waiting time, i.e. whilst getting dressed, on the commute to work, just before waking or falling asleep etc. It takes very little additional time but packs a powerful punch in terms of building confidence and enhancing actual performance.

Benchmark for Success

Often times, people will achieve part or all of their outcomes without even realising or noticing they have done so. Setting benchmarks means that as well as noticing and acknowledging your progress you remain more motivated as you work towards your final outcome. It also helps maintain focused progress and momentum. Where it is a large or daunting task setting milestones along the way breaks it down into manageable steps thus helping reduce procrastination and overwhelm.

Use Your Intelligences

Research has shown that the more of your intelligences you are able to engage in learning and performance, the more powerful and long lasting it will be. When teaching PhotoReading™ we tap into what Harvard Psychologist Howard Gardner indentified as the eight multiple intelligences.

Traditional learning mainly uses linguistic and logical intelligence; however, when all eight intelligences are applied to a task your learning and performance are greatly accelerated and lead to increased levels of mastery and skill acquisition.

Whole Mind Learning

When trying to learn something new or achieve a particular outcome people often tend to focus and concentrate on the task in hand. To all intents and purposes this sounds like a good idea, however many do not focus in the right way so this approach actually decreases their ultimate performance and success. The narrow focus, thinking intently, analysing every step, whilst great for task execution, can put you at a disadvantage during the learning and preparation stage because you are relying only on your analytical capabilities and closing down the creative faculties and right side of the brain. It is very easy to get overwhelmed during analytical learning, just try remembering 3 consecutive telephone numbers and notice how quickly your mind gets overloaded and begins to drop the data. Whole brain whole mind learning increases your capacity for retaining information and opens up the vast storehouse of knowledge that resides inside of you, enabling greater access to all of your skills and capabilities, the very part of you that is required to fully maximise your performance.

Test It: Think about watching your favourite movie and how easy it is to remember the storyline and particular details. This requires far more brain power than remembering 3 new telephone numbers yet people find it much easier to do because when relaxing and enjoying a movie you shift from analytical thinking into whole mind learning mode.

Raise Your Expectations

Stanford University Psychologist Albert Bandura examined the relationship between beliefs and expectations in performance. His research included a series of basic tasks such as throwing paper into a basket through to more complex mental and emotional processes such as handling snakes and solving mathematical equations. The Bandura Curve as it came to be known showed that ultimate performance was heavily influenced by the subjects’ beliefs and expectations.

When learning something new you typically have a period of assimilation which generally moves through 4 key stages, unconscious incompetence through to ultimate conscious competence and mastery. If you expect to do well, even when not performing at your best whilst going through the incremental skill development process where performance naturally dips, eventually your level of performance will rise up to meet your level of expectation. If however you do not expect to perform well, once you have been through the natural learning curve your level of performance will fall back to level of your expectation. Bandura found that in situations where people did perform successfully despite their limiting beliefs, they would very quickly discount it as beginners luck, an exception to the rule, or some kind of coincidence or fluke. So if you are aware that you have the skills and abilities to perform at a higher level yet consistently fail to do so it is vitally important that you examine your expectations and address any beliefs that might be holding you back.

About The Author

Marilyn Devonish is the founder of Trance Formations™ and is a Certified Trainer of NLP, Certified PhotoReading Instructor, Accelerated Learning Coach and Belief Change Specialist. For further information go to: http://tranceformationstm.com/