Many things happen in our lives we often don't get to choose – colleagues, systems, materials, company visions – but the one thing we are completely in charge of every day is our thoughts. We choose thoughts that lead to actions and, ultimately, results. We can choose to be in charge of those thoughts, actions, and results, or we can choose to be victims of our circumstances.

I prefer being in charge, but I find that it takes constant reminders to generate the right thoughts. Our minds are so powerful, and it's pretty surprising what we can talk ourselves into or out of by just stewing on something.

I am the master of talking myself into or out of things – good or bad. When I'm exercising, the results of my thinking are instantaneous, and the success of the activity often hinges on my thoughts.

  • "I'm so sluggish today" reinforces the negative and results in tired muscles and labored breathing.
  • "I'm proud of myself for getting out today and for all the exercise I've been doing. It makes me feel better and more energized," changes the focus to the progress I've made, and results in refreshed energy and better performance.

Positive vs. productively positive

Setting up the right type of positive thinking is the key to generating desired results. I'm not talking about a discussion of positive thinking just to be optimistic. For example, "I will get the business" only provides your mind with a wish and no action plan for making it happen.

What I'm talking about is thinking about the actions you take which will lead to a desired outcome. "I am prepared for this call. I've done the research and practiced through role-playing, I know my business very well, and I'm going into the meeting genuinely curious to learn about their business." This type of thinking gives your mind positive, productive thoughts on which you can take action and build confidence.

If you find that you're intimidated by certain types of clients, try changing your thinking about the situation to set yourself up for a successful meeting by building a foundation of confidence. If you meet with a C-level executive and think, "I don't know how to sell to CEOs; they intimidate me," you're setting yourself up for near-certain failure.

Yet, if you take that same scenario and think about what you need for a successful meeting and focus on the skills and resources you have that will benefit the client, you've given your mind a quality focus. "I am familiar with this business, and I know they have areas for improvement which will make them more productive/profitable. I have solutions which could help them." This thinking puts you in a place of being a peer and a problem solver – a genuine help to the business's bottom line rather than being a vendor of a commodity product.

Creating the thoughts

Aligning thoughts with the actions that will produce desired results is the key. To create the right types of thoughts, start by asking yourself, "What would have happened for this [situation] to be successful?" Begin with the end in mind:

  • see the successful outcome
  • see the actions that lead to the outcome
  • create the thoughts that will lead you to those actions 

Even with the proper preparation, positive productive thoughts, and all the right actions, it doesn't mean you're guaranteed success. Circumstances and mismatched needs don't always play in your favor. But with the right approach, you know you're prepared and perform your best. This means you can repeat it again under different circumstances and strive for success in any situation.


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Photo by emprize