Thursday, October 2, 2014

It Starts With a Mirror Confession

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” 
- Charlie Tremendous Jones. 

One reason successful people are successful, is because they have success habits. Habits are so powerful, and one habit I've tried to follow is asking my mentors and teachers for book recommendations. Several years ago I heard a quote "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Therefore, in the last 5 years I've been trying to read books which have influenced some of my mentors. When I asked one my mentors, George Antone about what book had the greatest impact on him growing up, he recommended a great book called "The Power of Positive Thinking", published in 1952, by Norman Vincent Peale. This book now holds a spot on my bookshelf alongside other great books that have been recommended to me.

Ultimately, one of the themes of this book is mindset and trying to look for the silver lining in every gray cloud. Focusing first on what benefit and what positive element that is in every situation as opposed to skipping to the negative (which is much easier). What for? What difference does it make? This perspective will give your more happiness, energy, and success. The success will come both in business and in your personal life. Continuing to look for the positive will keep you motivated and determined to find that positive thing, before giving up thus creating an attitude of.....

* This doesn't work for me or
* I'm a failure at everything I attempt or
* Other people find luck when all I find is failure or
* I'm no good at relationships.

How? How does one accomplish this? How do you keep a positive outlook? Turn on the TV and all you see is negative. Of course the news is mostly negative, but it's not just the news, it's also throughout the other shows, the sitcoms, the talk-shows, even in most of the movies. Everything around us seems to be pointing to that direction. How do you keep that positive outlook? Then, and more importantly, are you to just ignore all that negativity? What if you're experiencing setbacks and failures? Are you to just look away and take somewhat of a pollyanna attitude about life, with your head in the clouds saying "I won't look at that because it's negative"?

Well #1, the answer is no. It is important to look at the negative. It's important to recognize that it is negative. It's important to draw a distinction between the thing that you don't want and those things in life that you do want. When you're experiencing those setbacks, it's important to understand and realize that this is not what you want and these things which are going on are not going to your plan. It's key to realize that difference between what you don't want and what you do want. So - keep it real.

However, once you see it, and recognize it, then switch to begin thinking of what you do want. You're not to spend all day thinking about the negative and lamenting upon what you aren't and what failures have become you. Your story needs to be that of - this is temporary and I'm more like this. I used the word story in that sentence on purpose. What story is it that you're telling yourself on a daily basis? What story do you repeat not only to yourself but to those around you? When you fail, how do you respond to your failure?

Learning to see yourself as a winner and to feel like a winner happens primarily as a result of having small successful experiences and thinking self-affirming thoughts. When we believe our efforts will be successful, we become venturesome and are most likely to undertake an activity or task. Because we expect to succeed, we persist until we do. This successful experience causes self-affirming thoughts, which boost our self-esteem, enhance self-efficacy, make us feel good, and will lead us to believe we will do well in the future. Thus, we attempt more, and the upward spiral continues. This internal system helps us grow and develop -- it is a natural continuous quality improvement program.

There is, however, an equally powerful downward spiral that can interrupt the natural growth process. If we believe we are likely to fail, we undertake activities tentatively, expecting a negative outcome. We feel anxious about our performance, we avoid or remove ourselves from anxiety-producing situations. When we fail, we say "I told you so" to ourselves and make a mental note to avoid similar situations in the future. When we expect failure and succeed anyway, we toss it off to luck or say it's a "fluke" or "only temporary," and hold on to our negative beliefs.

The key to this entire puzzle is our thoughts. You've heard, I'm sure, you're thoughts shape your future. Well, the HOW do we control those thoughts is what I'd like to discuss over the next few weeks. How does someone take the negative self talk and change that into something that can work for us as opposed to at odds with us? How do we change that story we tell ourselves? How do we reshape those thoughts to control the pictures in our head which drives our behaviors?