Overcome Mind Blocks Holding People Back In Business
Shaking it up in business is a phrase I have pushed CEO’s with for years because of the principals of my Renaissance Methodology and Theory of Accelerance. Then after they hire my teams and me, we guide their senior leaders to shake up the organization with a purpose, to wow-customers, and substantially grow revenues. I am now sharing with you an extremely out of the box cognitive-behavioral therapy I adapted into business to guide people to be bold. The results are mind-blowing.
Serious disclaimer, I am not a licensed Psychiatrist, and that needs to be clearly understood. If you deploy what I am about to reveal to yourself or your staff then you will state the same fact about yourself upfront as well (Unless of course, you are a licensed Psychiatrist).
Here is the deal; both leaders and employees harbor business fears and anxieties. Meaning, things that make people uncomfortable, hesitant to do something, or downright refuse to do something because of being scared or experiencing phobia or embarrassment, which constitutes uncomfortable and sometimes painful emotions. The discovery revealed in, Overcoming The 15 Categories of Rejections, addresses Mind-Blocks as the first category of rejection. This severely impedes these individuals experiencing the Mind-Blocks and harms others in the business working with them as well as harms customers. Thus, the company suffers. So, how do you stop the suffering? Well, it is a two-prong answer. First, ask how you identify these Mind-Blocks? Second, ask how can you overcome them? The solution I’ll share to overcome them is a bit radical.
My studies of Joseph Wolpe, a South African Psychiatrist who developed systematic desensitization in 1958 gave me this idea. Clinically, Psychiatrists use this for all types of issues; for example, phobias such as arachnophobia, fear of spiders. I’ll explain how I adapted this to the business world and will discuss the pros and cons of using it in business. Then I’ll teach you how to use this method. I will refer to desensitization as Exposure Therapy. Keep in mind that it is about retraining your brain to alleviate fears and phobias.
I adapted this therapy to business because Psychiatrists have shown it to be an effective treatment for people with many anxiety disorders. You might already know it involves practicing with what you fear, to become less afraid. It is a process for reducing fear and anxiety responses. In therapy, a person is gradually exposed to a feared situation or object, learning to become less sensitive over time. This type of therapy has been found to be particularly effective for obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias. In 2009 I started applying it in business situations to help executives, managers, customer service people, and business developers overcome tasks and situations that held them back because of their Mind-Blocks that crippled their performance. I worked with a senior executive to overcome his confrontation avoidance, helped a salesperson reduce the fear of stopping in unannounced to see prospects, guided a call center employee to learn to build personal connections with clients and took a marketing manager to a new level of success by helping her beat the fear of talking in front of large crowds. This gave me the confidence to expand the use of Exposure Therapy into many other business situations. It is not a guaranteed success solution so let’s get that out in the open. Some people are not open to this therapy and should not be pushed into experiencing it. For those people willing to try it, success can take a few months. On average success comes in about 90-days while working at the therapy for at least 2-hours a week. It has worked as fast at 3-weeks though. I estimate that it has worked with about 6 out of every 10 people I have used it with, thus a 60% success rate, which is great. This is my practice with Exposure Therapy in business. Outside of business, Psychiatrists describe the success of this therapy ranging from 60% to 90% for those who complete the therapy.
Let me give you a simple example before we dig deeper to understand how to use Business Exposure Therapy. If you are afraid of the number thirteen then I am going to have you embrace thirteen. Put thirteen all over your house and office. When you get a hotel room then stay on the thirteenth floor if they did not skip that number out of superstition. Buy lottery tickets with thirteen in them. Make thirteen cold calls. Run or swim thirteen laps. Hold a meeting for thirteen minutes. Get it? Embrace thirteen by exposing yourself to that fear to realize the irrational thinking.
How to administer Exposure Therapy in business:
We start by identifying the fears and embarrassments that impede leaders and staff. You cannot solve what you do not know exists. Therefore, the exercise begins for your subjects with what I describe to them as, “Opening up and bearing the soul.”
- Begin with one-on-one private discussions with people.
- Explain you seek to shake up the organization to help grow it, as honesty and candor is key.
- Ask what they would improve, listen, repeat back what you hear, and take notes.
- Share a weakness or two of yours in reciprocity for openness and trust building.
- Dive deeper and specifically ask, “What is the one thing they are embarrassed by or embarrassed to do, or the one thing that scares them and challenges them, slows them down, or stops them?”
- Again, listen, repeat back what you hear, and take notes.
- Repeat this process and try to draw out at least one thing for now, but see if you can get two issues discovered.
- Next, ask them for intrinsic details about how and why this is so, and again, listen, repeat back what you hear, and take notes.
- Understand they will likely be feeling the pain of negative emotion of this personal issue while they explain and open up so be supportive.
- Next, you will bring their emotions back up into a positive mind frame by asking what having this issue resolved will do for them, and get details.
- Next ask what having this issue solved will do for their family, co-workers, and others, and get details.
- Again, listen, repeat back what you hear, and take notes.
- Then dig deeper and get them happily explaining details of what having this solved will be like for them and others in their world.
- Again, listen, repeat back what you hear, and take notes.
- Ask if you got it all and if not then take time to back up, get the details and then guide them forward again through the happiness to end on a high note.
Booyah, you have performed the first half of the exercise, and gotten someone to open up and admit what is bothering and holding them back. There is nothing controversial about this therapy, yet. Now it is time for part 2; you need to resolve this scary, embarrassing, and or painful issue. This is where some find the process to be controversial.
Before beginning part 2 let me share some outstanding news I discovered, which is that about 10 to 15 percent of your subjects will solve their issues without needing Exposure Therapy just by having admitted out loud, and to someone else (An accountability partner) what is troubling them. This is why I allow a 3-week window in-between rooting out the problems and starting Exposure Therapy. Use this window of time to make plans for implementing Exposure Therapy while being cognizant of their abilities to heal on their own in the interim. Allow them to test out their healing abilities during this time gap before diving into the Exposure Therapy.
Applying Exposure Therapy in business situations takes several steps. This is the process I recommend after you have rooted out the fears, anxieties, and phobias.
- Be sure to have a 3-week gap in between identifying the issues and starting the exposure, while allowing the subject to experiment with their issue in live settings to see if they solve the issue just from getting it out in the open.
- Make a plan that is practical, safe, and able to be consistently applied 2-times a week for at least 1-hour over each time during the next 90-days with the subject and you as their guide.
- Try to have different exposure settings each week to test out different triggers that cause varying degrees of discomfort and or pain.
- Meet after each field exposure to debrief and discuss the experience.
- Take notes as their guide to help you better help them.
- Have the subject keep a journal from start to finish detailing their feelings and emotions about each exposure as well as how they feel each day.
- Have them describe the negative emotions they experience on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most painful/uncomfortable so they can measure their discomfort before you begin, and after each day, and especially after each exposure to monitor progress.
- Provide enormous positive reinforcement as it is merited so that it is genuine, and do so as much as possible to keep encouragement abundant.
- Provide course corrective advice to the best of your ability and when applicable/appropriate allow others with expertise to guide and help the subject handle the situation that troubles them.
- Be willing to abort and exposure if the subject is too anxious or scared to avoid making them quit the program, and remember it is better to come back and work on this another day than to run the subject off from the therapy.
- If success is achieved before the 90-days I advise you to stay at it and just shift the focus from therapy to practice to hone their skills.
3 Questions I get asked
The most common question I get when applying Exposure Therapy in business settings is, “Can I desensitize myself without the help of a trained professional or anyone at all helping me?” My answer is, yes you can go solo, but I would use someone with experience in this method to help.
The other frequent question I get asked is if Exposure Therapy can be harmful? According to the available evidence Psychiatrists have published, it is not inherently harmful. Nor have I found it to be harmful.
A word of caution though; in the clinical world, Psychiatrists say that it is important to manage and prepare for negative outcomes though, because although rare, exposures may not go as planned (Car accidents happen, people faint, animals bite). The costs and probability of outcomes should be discussed before exposure work is done. What I have done using this in business is very similar. We discuss negative outcomes before practicing. I have seen a few people get so panicked they could not go out in front of the crowd we prepared them to present to. I have seen business developers have panic attacks in parking lots and not be able to walk in without a scheduled meeting to gain access to prospects, and I have seen service reps hang-up on customers because they got so nervous when trying to build rapport.
The 3rd common question I get asked is; can Exposure Therapy make anxiety worse? To this, I simply say, no. It is my opinion and conclusion from observations that business people who already have certain fears and phobias about their jobs lose no ground by trying Exposure Therapy. I tell people, “What have you got to lose… nothing but you have everything to gain.”
The motto to acquire with Exposure Therapy is, “Fortune favors the bold,” or as stated in Latin, “Audaces fortuna iuvat.” Reportedly first said by Terence, a Roman playwright who used it in his play called Phormio, which was first performed in 161 BC. Hence, being bold is an ancient success concept. I advocate using Exposure Therapy in business because being bold propels people forward in business and life. Also, as people, we require strong pushing at times. Of course, as I explained this means pushing people with their consent. The point is that if you try Exposure Therapy you will see just how willing most people are to having someone who shows genuine care and desire to help them come into their life and stretch their comfort zones productively. Meaning, help them overcome what is holding them back professionally and personally. So, I humbly conclude by circling back to where I stated, shaking up a business means shaking up the people inside. To do this successfully you need to be prepared to get down in the trenches with people, show them you care, and have ways to help them beat their Mind-Blocks. Otherwise, your leadership will be trying to squash resistance that is merely a cry from people wanting help to be better at their jobs, and better in life. To embolden your organization means to embolden yourself and your people. Do this successfully and your customers will be happier, which makes your profits grow.