top of page

What Does Behavior Have to Do With it?

In my years of coaching executives and other business professionals I have found the model shown below to be extremely valuable! Especially when someone is not achieving the results they desire.

Neural Linguistic Programming chart
Neural Linguistic Programming explained

Let me walk you through this (some of you may see it leans heavily on behavioral psychology and Neural Linguistic Programming – NLP). If we start at the top, let me start by asking how you define success? A particular car? A happy family? Inclusion in high-level business decisions? However, you define it, success comes directly from our behaviors. Winning the lottery might be an exception. (If interested, a good book on NLP is "NLP New Technology of Achievement").

Here is an example, I’m early in my sales career and success is equated to dollars in sales revenue and those closed deals come from my doing so-called “cold calls”. This is when I pick up the phone and call a prospective client to see if they will allow me to meet with them for a product demo.

My willingness to do these cold calls is shaped by many things. For me, personally, yes, I’ve had to do this, and I hated it. The fact that I hated it led to behaviors that were less than helpful. Procrastinating in a variety of forms, as an example. Why do I hate making those calls? Well, I don’t want someone to yell at me to leave them alone, I don’t want to bother others, I’m not worthy of their attention, etc. These are all fears. Where do the fears come from? They come from the next layer down, “Mental Maps”.

Mental Maps are things we believe to be true, but often are not true. A map is always a simplification, a personal way of seeing the world. If I asked you to draw me a map of the city where you live, no matter how much effort you put into it, it is still not the actual city you live in. My distaste for making cold calls some from maps that are fear based. In reality, I have nothing to be afraid of; I may not like it if someone yells at me, but it isn’t going to cause physical harm.

Where do the maps come from? Repeated messages we accumulate, and they come from socialization. Maybe I heard my mom tell me that I should not “rock the boat” or “create waves”, maybe my dad said, “Kids should be seen and not heard.” One way or the other, my mental map says I should avoid the task of cold calling sales prospects. Socialization generally comes from those we’re closest to: parents, siblings, friends, social media, teachers, etc.

I’d ask you to take a moment and think about this as it applies to your life. What maps have led to your success? Your lack of success? Are they rational? Are they true? Maybe some mental maps are true, like the message, “Don’t walk in front of a moving car.” Many maps are not true, or not entirely true. Back in my days of teaching college level psychology (side hustle), I was often assigned the job of teaching statistics. I can’t tell you how many people said that they hate math in general and statistics in particular. Why? Because they’d not conquered it well in high school. Why? Well, how many times would you mother have to say, “I can’t stand math” before you decided you can’t stand it either.

See if you can make a list of some of the maps that are holding you back. Here’s an example for you: when I was maybe in my mid-teens I remember wanting to learn to fly. Somehow our family physician, who was a private pilot, learned of this and told me once during a checkup that he failed the written test the first time, and barely passed it the second time. He was genuinely intimidated by it. This message from a trusted (very smart) older person in my life prevented me from even considering flying lessons until I was in my mid-20’s. I reached a point where I decided I’d give it a try anyway. You know what? Just by self-study I not only passed the written exam on the first try, with no formal “ground school”, I passed it with a great score. I let my mental map derail my success for years. Again, take a moment and ask yourself, what’s getting in your way today?

Okay, so you see how it all works, great. Now how do you overcome these obstacles and reach what you are capable of reaching?

Here’s where we get into a bit of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (more on CBT: Albert Ellis ABC model) Back to the cold call example, regardless of my feelings about it, the cold reality is, if I just picked up the phone and committed myself to making 3x as many calls today as I did yesterday, I’d have significantly more success. Now here’s the fun part, as I acknowledge my success and allow myself to enjoy that success, it will begin to re-write the maps! So, by simply doing what I don’t want to, I get immediate improvement, but in continuing those more productive behaviors, I will eventually change my feelings about it, I will change my maps! Of course, in this process leveraging the insight of a professional coach and speed things up considerably, but you can do it on your own if you stick to it.

bottom of page