Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creating Positive Imprints on the Self-Image

For most of us, just competing in the Olympics would be a lifetime highlight. Winning an Olympic medal would be the thrill of a lifetime. After Lanny Bassham won an Olympic Silver Medal in rifle shooting he says he spent the next four years apologizing for being number two.

“A silver medal in the Olympics is the best you can do in the world and still lose,” says Lanny. “You are the world’s best loser.”

Lanny didn’t like losing. He decided he wanted to do something about it.

He says, “I came home from the Olympics motivated to find out, how do you manage the mind under pressure?”

“My problem was not holding the rifle,” he adds. “My problem was thinking. My problem was the mental game.”

After trying a sports psychologist, Lanny decided to talk with the people who were the best in the world. He talked Olympic Gold Medalists. He talked with a lot of them and based on the things he learned, he created a system he calls “Mental Management®.”

Lanny applied his system to himself. He returned to the Olympics and took home the gold, followed by a several world championships. Today, his company trains athletes, performers, and business professionals on the mental game.

One element of the mental game is the imprinting we do on the self-image. Our self-image constrains our performance and it is influenced by imprinting.

There are two types of imprinting. First is the imprinting of actual performance. Once we accomplish something, we are confident we can do it again.

The second type of imprinting is imagined. It’s our self-talk. Do you see yourself achieving a goal or failing to achieve it? Either image is imprinted on your self-image.

Your self-image cannot distinguish between an actual imprint and an imagined one. As individuals, we need to focus on the outcomes we desire, not our mistakes. As parents and managers, we similarly need to direct people to focus on positive solutions and outcomes.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that focuses on the negative more than the positive. Even if you are an upbeat person, you are likely to fall into the trap of focusing on the negative.

“Ask people how they did after a performance and they’re likely to talk about what they did wrong,” says Lanny. “We live in a culture where it’s become socially acceptable to talk about what we did wrong first, and to talk about what we did wrong more than what we did right.”

Don’t focus on the mistakes your people make. Focus on the things each can do to perform better. That is creating a positive imprint. That is building the self-image.

“We build self image by what we cause them to picture,” notes Lanny.

If you want to learn more about Lanny Bassham or order his books, CDs, DVDs, or other products, visit his website at Mental Management®.


  1. This is so useful and rich Matt. I am personally so burned out by the status-quo language of goals and goal setting. I understand that semantics are involved. But if it ain't working it's gotta change.

    I love the language of "focus on the outcomes and focus on the things each can do to perform better."

    I am trying to build a personal model based on the design process, that will help me place verbs into the equation following focus.

    Lanny did it. He used feedback to reconceptualize an outcome. Then he designed a process around the constraints. He prototyped it and continued to refine it. The important thing is that he put it into play and continued to improve it.

    It's about verbs not mission statements.

  2. It's about a vision... for yourself or your company. Visions should be active and present tense.