As Published in the Colorado Springs Business Journal

Psychological Techniques to Increase Success in Business Performance


Gary J. Neuger, Ph.D.


As we approach the end of 2013, have you achieved the level of success you were hoping for when the year began?  Have you met and exceeded your goals or are you still slogging along wishing you were doing better but constantly feeling like you are swimming upstream?


This is the time of year when we take stock of how we have done over the past twelve months not only in our work, but also in many other facets of our lives.  It is that timeless process that results in all of those New Year’s resolutions we will be making in a few weeks about work, income, weight loss, fitness, that smoking habit and so on.


So, what can you do to make 2014 different from 2013 and years past?  I have a few suggestions for you to consider.  Some of these come from the field of sport psychology but have just as valid and effective an application in helping you achieve success in business performance as well as in personal growth and wellness.


Visualization – Sport psychologists have long known the power of this simple technique in enhancing sport performance.  It turns out that when we visualize something, the brain does not distinguish between  what we just imagined and something that actually happened.  So every time you visualize, you are creating new memories (in a sense) that get added to your experience base.  Now, the down side to this:  think about how often you imagine the worst case scenario, or continue to picture past mistakes.  Doing so just continues to reinforce those mistakes/failures and increases the likelihood of repeating them.


The idea is to use visualization to create an experience base of success.  Rather than visualizing what you DON”T want to happen, take time each day to picture what you DO want to happen.  It does not take long either.  Spend five minutes at a time doing this once or twice each day and you will be amazed at how things can begin to turn around.  As an added bonus, you will feel better too.


Thinking positively When we experience something, not only does the experience itself affect us, but so too does our internal dialogue about the experience.  Often it is what we say to ourselves, or our internal “self-talk” that dictates our reactions more so than the experience itself.


While this may be new for a fraction of those reading this,the larger percentage of us in business have heard about this ad nauseam in one form or another from “The Power of Positive Thinking” “Think and Grow Rich” and on and on.


The problem that I hear from people who come to see me is that while the general idea is well understood, the nuts and bolts of how to do it are not.  For example, is it positive thinking to say “I won’t make that mistake again” or “I am not going to let that get me down”?  Here is a short experiment to illustrate:  If I say to you “whatever you do, do not visualize Barak Obama.  Do not see his face,”  what just happened?  My guess is that you visualized Barak Obama even though I said not to.  The same thing happens with the “won’t” and “not” examples above.  If that is how you self talk, you will be more likely to “make that mistake again” and you will be more likely to “let that get you down.”


Just as with visualization, rather than self-talking what you do not want to experience, work on self-talking what you DO want to experience.  This applies to your emotions and behavior as equally as it does to your business performance.


Imagine your self-talk and what you visualize as a team of powerful horses pulling a carriage (your emotions, behavior, performance, etc.).  The horses are almost always running.  This team of horses may be running in a direction you do not want them to go in because experiences in the near or distant past helped create a particular habitual way of seeing yourself or a pattern of self-talk that is self defeating. If you let them continue to run wild, that team of horses could take the carriage right over the edge of a cliff!  Rather than letting them run unguided, recognize that the reins are sitting right there beside you.  Take the reins and guide that team in the direction you want them to go.  They will be pulling your feelings and behavior along.


Again, it takes very little time and energy to make a huge difference in what you experience.  You will be amazed at what you can accomplish by committing just five to ten minutes a day to this. This time next year you can be enjoying the ride of your life if you will take the reins of your self-talk and visualization.


Dr. Gary J. Neuger, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Colorado Springs since 1986.  He can be reached at (719) 219-6220 or at