In our professions we’re given a lot of things that we don’t necessarily get to choose – colleagues, systems, materials, company visions – but the one thing we are totally and completely in charge of every day is our thoughts. Every day we get to choose what thoughts we have that lead to our actions and ultimately our results. We can choose to be in charge of those thoughts, actions, and results or we can choose to be a victim 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 I’m amazed at what we can talk ourselves into or out of thinking or doing. I am the master of talking myself into or out of things – good or bad. When I run, the results of my thinking are instantaneous, and the success of the run often hinges on my thoughts. Changing the quality of the run is often as simple as changing the focus of my thoughts.

  • I’m so sluggish today” reinforces the negative and results in tired legs and labored breathing.
  • I’m proud of myself for getting out on the run today and for all of the running I’ve been consistently doing because 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.

I do a lot of thinking when running, so you can imagine how this idea leads me to think about how that change of focus relates to other areas of life.

Positive vs. Productively Positive

Setting up the right type of positive thinking is the key to generating our desired results. I’m not talking about a discussion of positive thinking just to be optimistic:

I will get the business.” This type of thinking 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, I’ve 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 are meeting with a C-level executive and you 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 which will be beneficial to the client, you’ve given your mind something of real quality on which to 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 bottom line of the business rather than being a vendor of a commodity product.

Creating the Thoughts

Aligning our thoughts with the actions we want which will produce the results we want is the key. In order to create the right types of thoughts, start by asking yourself, “What will have to have happened in order 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

Let’s be Realistic

With all the proper preparation, positive productive thoughts, and all the right actions, it doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed success. Circumstances and mis-matched needs don’t always play in your favor, but in the end, you know you were prepared, and you performed your best. Which means you can repeat it again under different circumstances, and strive for success with a better match of needs.

Photo by Brian Snelson.