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Blockages to Performance - What Stops You Getting Better?

The three main areas of the internal conversation, which prevent improvement or stop

performance are interrelated, but not necessarily consistent. Indeed, one may feature one time and not the next. It’s down to the multitude of discussions taking place, influenced by other current factors or external circumstances.


A most common inhibitor of performance is Focus or more accurately-over focus. Additional pressure and attention to focus, stops thinking due to extra negative thoughts, as you become hyper vigilant to threats.

Much more helpful to stay in the moment, be aware rather than wired.   

One of my pet hates, is to see a coach/teacher or parent shouting, veins standing out on

their necks ... FOCUS!!!!!! You couldn’t offer a worst piece of advice. It’s usually generated

by the urge to help, but even said calmly, it reinforces the sense of threat or danger.

Survival Mode

If not already, they will soon be in survival mode.

The brain effectively shuts down, as it’s already preprogrammed to fight, run or freeze.

Cognitive ability slows down even further (Conscious mind processes 40-50 bits of

information a second, while the subconscious is able to deal with up to 11.000.000 (yes

11million!) as one attempts to concentrate.

Can you remember seeing a colleague in ‘meltdown?

Watch their eyes and see how furiously they try to do something simple.

Their expressions of disbelief says it all!


When the pressure is on, you are constantly drawn to memories of what went wrong in the past. You won’t recall that great time when it all went to plan, with glorious pictures of total success.

Nope. Just the indelible images of massive cock ups, when it all went horrendously wrong.

And it gets even better, those scenarios will be embellished, in case you can’t recollect how disastrous they were.

To make you respond to the threat, more significant thoughts intrude and none of them

good. The more you try to block them out, the more your subconscious makes you think


Catch 22, if there was ever one?


But, worry not oh valiant one... Ego to the rescue!

No negative thoughts, you are egged on to try the impossible, only glory beckons.

You can do it... the Chimp encourages.

Everyone... absolutely everyone is watching.

Unfortunately, fear still has that unshakable grip on your mind and will not let you fully

concentrate or focus. Over-focus of course, is permissible. The result isn’t good... in fact, it’s total failure. 

Is the Chimp sympathetic? Of course not, it was all your fault and you’ve shown US up!!

Just can’t win.

You may have heard the term ‘Misery is never an Orphan’?

In this case, misery has two siblings- Limiting Beliefs and Comfort Zone.

Limiting Beliefs 

Everyone has belief systems, inculcated over a lifetime. Primary purpose is to protect but, they can compromise our safety and wellbeing.

Even worse, these beliefs may not even be our own!!

So where do they come from?

Parents, teachers and key opinion influencers-certainly our peer group. This is of particular significance to teenagers and young adults, who are overly prone to worry about what their friends think of them. 

Most successfully, they put limits on ambition!!

Think of any? Here’s a couple-

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”

“Nobody from this family ever went to university”

Also applies to any situation you want to improve. It’s a defence mechanism, even sabotage in certain circumstances. Always seems to be the ‘tail ender’ in any self talk, accompanied by a drop in energy in your whole demeanour.

“Who am I kidding” “Could never do that, not good enough ” “I haven’t got that shot, skill,

ability, experience etc, etc, etc”

Sound familiar? 

The survival instinct gives the perception that resources and opportunities are extremely limited, as the subconscious attempts to keep you safe; plus our good friend-negative bias is hard at work. 

Imposter Syndrome

To make matters worse, there is Imposter Syndrome, which results in great anxiety,

particularly when the stakes are high.  A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, with a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.

Often considered mental failing or irrationality on the part of the sufferer; but for many

their situation makes it quite rational to think that way. 

It’s much more common than you think. 

I often wondered why I wasn’t rumbled as a Chief Fire Officer? 

I fully expected someone to come into the office and say“Come on Doyley you’re just a

scally from Manchester who got expelled from school?” 


Limiting Beliefs act as your walls... we now move on to the floor and ceiling of your most

comfortable box.

Comfort Zone 

Insidious and debilitating, your comfort zone keeps you precisely where you are.

It’s cosy and you can continue to delude yourself as long as you want... eternity even.

Why shouldn’t you stay comfortable? 

If you start to really perform, you’ll have to do it more often. An imperative you won’t be

able to avoid... done it once, you’ll have to repeat it.

Oh dear, going to have to work harder, no hiding. The herd/troop will expect it. Chance

plays no excuses. Much easier to stay where you are, rather than the

discomfort of actually getting something you desire, but are reluctant to work at.

In actual fact, your comfort blanket may have become your straight jacket?”

Bottom line is....... only you know.

How will you feel when the opportunity isn’t there. What regrets will you have?

They are only programmes your brain is running to help you survive; only programmes -

they are not you.

But the programme will stop you getting better if you let it!

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