Change Your Image and Change Your Results!
By: Stephen J. Blakesley
You can never outperform your Self-Image, that statement was once made by Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psycho-Cybernetics, a world-wide best seller in the 60s. Things haven’t changed much since then. How you see yourself is still the “regulator” of your own personal performance.
Just how powerful is your self-image? The personal story I am about to share with you is a good example of just how powerful self-image really is. We originally shared this story in my book “The Target-The Secret to Superior Performance, published in 2010.
In 1947 I was seven years old and about to participate in my first Little League baseball season (back then you did not start playing at the age of 4 or 5). I was always big for my age and as such, a lot was expected of me. I remember that the coach thought I might be a good Third Baseman and tried me out there for awhile until it was determined that was just not my spot. The coach, eager to get the big guys on the team, was not discouraged, he moved me to Leftfield then to Rightfield. The results of my fielding were not too stellar, to say the least. About the only place coach had not tried me was catcher. That is where I ended up.
Thank goodness I lived in a small town and they normally needed everyone to play, even if they were not so good or I would have been on the bench. Well, catcher was where I stuck. Oh yes, I have not shared with you my hitting ability. I had none.
That season was miserable for me because all the parents knew I was a few shades shy of good, that’s being generous. Everyone knew I was bad in the field and at the plate and that included me. I struggled through the season and was real glad when it came to an end. I was definitely not looking forward to next season.
So when that time did come and my mother asked me if I would rather stay home and play baseball or visit my grandmother, it wasn’t a difficult choice.
My grandmother lived in an even smaller town than I did and when I arrived for my two month stay she greeted me warmly and told me in an exciting sort of way, that she had a great summer planned for me. For one thing, she told me, the town was just starting a children’s church baseball league and several of her friends were looking forward to me playing on the church team (if they only knew, I thought).
I was puzzled by their excitement, so I asked my grandmother, “Why are they so excited about me playing on their team?” Her answer, “well because you are soooooo big for your age.” Anyway it was about a week or so before practice started and I met many people, who knew my grandmother that would say, “We are sure glad you are going to play for our team.” I thought, Yeah, tell me that when the summer is over.
When practice did start, the coach was eager, as well, and convinced that I would be perfect a First Baseman and hitting clean-up. He had so much confidence in me that I actually began to believe that I was good (my self-image began to change). It really changed the first day of practice when I hit at least 3 balls far over the centerfielder’s head during batting practice. My teammates, my coach, my grandmother, and the entire town began talking about how the 1st Baptist Church had this “giant of a guy, playing first, who could hit and field like Duke Snyder, when he was young.”
I can honestly say that I had totally forgotten the tragic previous season and was “riding high on the waves of new expectations.” Through no effort of my own, I was no longer lousy, but great, at baseball. The season started and I honestly played like my coach, teammates and grandmother expected – Great!
Now get this, I was so good that the parents of players and coaches of the other teams in the church league had a meeting. You see there must have been some rule that disallowed young 8 year old boys from another town to play in the league. So they came to my grandmother and told her that they were sorry but I was ineligible to play anymore because I was from another town.
I remember how sad she was when she told me that I could no longer play. But, while I was a little disappointed, it did not last for long. Even at only 8, I figured out that I had become a legend and finished on top and would go back home with stories to tell.
In just a few months the self-image of a 7 year old boy had changed. At seven and a slave to what I thought of myself and what I thought others thought of me I was a poor performer and destined to perform poorly in other areas for I do not know how long. But, due entirely, to others believing in me, I accepted what they believed (I mean, how could so many be wrong) and I began believing in myself. Instead of saying I can’t, I believed I could and in doing so, did. You can too. Seldom can you do it by yourself, so find someone who believes in you and listen to their story about you. Change your image and change your results.
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