Have you ever thought about why some people are extremely successful while others struggle? If you don't mind, do a little experiment with me and we'll answer this question together.
Go through all your the friends you know well on social media or just contacts on your phone and with a paper and pen, write down only the names of people you know to be gifted or talented in some way.
I'm guessing it's not a really long list, so the next step is easy. Go through those names and mark everyone who you would consider successful. That is, they are doing what they always wanted to do at a high level, are earning much more than average, are having amazing experiences you wish you could have, etc.
On to the third step. Go back through your larger list and count how many people you know who didn't make the first "talent" cut. Then do the same thing as before and count how many in that group of people have an equally impressive level of success.
How many did you mark? Was it half of them? A third? A single person?
What did you discover? If you're like me, you realized that not everyone you know who has some sort of amazing talent, ends up successful. In fact, I'd say the majority have a pretty average life. Then there are quite a few "unexceptional" people who end up being more successful than you'd predict based on their level of talent.
This leads to more questions. Why wasn't everyone with all the talent successful? Likewise, why are there people with much less natural talent who do much better than you'd expect? To understand this, you have to investigate the successful people and what is different about them than everyone else.
Obviously, talent alone doesn't propel one person further than another. It helps, but it isn't enough. If you look deeper into a successful person's life, you'll find a few characteristics in every single example. They have grit. They are determined. They persevere. They don't give up. They work hard.
But most of all, they are positive thinkers.
What is Positive Thinking?
If you've ever seen the movie "Field of Dreams," you probably remember the whisper that Kevin Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, kept hearing over and over, "If you build it, they will come." At first, Ray was resistant. He didn't know what he was supposed to build or why. Yet, the whisper kept saying it. Eventually, it drove Ray to search for what he was supposed to build. What he learned wasn't exactly normal. He was supposed to build a baseball diamond in his field. That sounded bizarre, but the whisper wouldn't leave him alone. So he convinced his wife and young daughter to help. While he and his family were being mocked by his neighbors, Ray kept hearing the whisper and kept building until it was completed. His thoughts, whether they were his own or they were from the metaphysical world, propelled him into action and to keep going in spite of what others thought of him. That's basically what positive thinking is.
No, positive thinkers don't literally have voices in their heads. However, they understand how thoughts and actions are closely related. So, to spur action, they work at creating positive thoughts through self-talk, affirmations, aspirational thinking, being grateful, and envisioning themselves in a successful future.
When you are positive thinker, you are creating thoughts that will transform your energy or passion into a reality. The thoughts you build in your mind are the fuel that keeps things going in the right direction, regardless of what others may say. As a positive thinker, you see the world differently. You view the world as one that is abundant in resources and possibilities. Where others say "That's impossible," the positive thinker says, "Hold my beer."
Does It Work?
Psychologists call this a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Basically, when people have a prediction about a future result, he or she will do things that directly or indirectly causes the "prophecy" to come true. The layman's terms for the positive and negative versions of the idea is "psych yourself up" (positive) and "psych yourself out" (negative).
When a person believes something good is going to happen to them, he or she is much more likely to act. In other words, how you view yourself and the world impacts the actions you will or won't take. So yes, positive thinking works in that it gets you to act and to persevere because of your belief in yourself and the results. The challenge for most of us is to figure out how to hack our mindset and create positive thoughts.
How Can I Become a Positive Thinker?
There are number of things you can do to create more positive daily thoughts.
Morning Mirror Exercise: My business partner, Mitchell, swears by this. When he was a young man, he was a grumbler. Nothing made him happy and he hated his job. Then one day he thought about how this was getting him nowhere. He decided to wake up on the right side of the bed from then on. So every morning he would look into his mirror, smile, and tell himself that he was awesome and was going to have an awesome day. Because of his attitude change, his career changed, too. Suddenly his trajectory went from flat to upwards.
Thirty years later, he's continuously telling me that everything is awesome. It rubs off and I have a better day as a result of just being around the guy.
Have a Gratitude Attitude: At the end of your day, keep a journal and write at least one thing you experienced that you are grateful for. What's interesting about this is that you will start finding yourself during the day, consciously thinking and seeking things that you can include in your journal. Over time, you'll find more and more things that you are grateful for and experience the world in a more positive fashion.
Rephrase Your Beliefs: Sometimes, no matter how positive you try to be, a negative thought or belief slips in. When you encounter this, examine the belief. Ask yourself if it's true and if you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's true. If you can't be certain about the truth, then rephrase it to more accurately reflect reality.
For instance, I've ran across a lot of people who say they always forget things when they are in an interview. I will ask them, "Is this always true or is this just true when you're unprepared?" Nine times out of ten, they tell me that it's when they are unprepared. So I tell them to rephrase their belief to, "I forget facts when I'm unprepared." Will this make it so they remember everything in their next interview? No. But it does make them less nervous because they practiced more, which means they perform better and probably remember significantly more. In time, they become great interviewers because they are better prepared.
Cut Out Negative People From Your Life: We have a choice in the company we keep and the people we are around impacts us more than we realize. There's a reason for the phrase, "Birds of a feather flock together." It doesn't only have to do with the fact that people group together based on similar traits, but also because people become more similar to the group of people they are with over time through reinforcement of norms and fear of being ostracized if one becomes too different.
As an example of what I mean, Pew Research Center did a study on divorce. The research found that participants were 75% more likely to become divorced if a friend went through a divorce. There's plenty of research on the negative influence of implicit and explicit peer pressure, but friends and family can be be just as powerful toward the positive. When someone in your group of friends does something impressive, it will lead you to think you could do it to. After all, you know your friend isn't any better than you. Because of this, be selective with your new friends and start removing the negative friends and family members out of your life. If they aren't lifting you up, then they are dragging you down.
Consume More Positive Experiences: Keep the sad music and movies to a minimum. Several years ago, there was a song by the group Evanescence, called "My Immortal," or as I dubbed it, "The Suicide Song." Whenever it came on the radio (which was far too often in my opinion) I would change the station immediately for fear that I would drive my car into the cement barricade. There's a time and place to have those feelings and experiences, but not all the time. Keep this in mind if you find yourself on social media all the time too. Twitter can be a veritable dumpster fire of anger and negativity. Small doses go a long way.
So with that in mind, find experiences that make you happy and do more of that and consume entertainment that uplifts or inspires. Play Pharell William's "I'm Happy" on repeat on your drive into work. You'll have a great day!
Stop Focusing on What You Can't Control: If you think about it, this is probably one of the most futile things we humans do. It causes us a lot of stress, without a way to do anything about it. Instead, work on the things you are able to do something about. For instance, stop worrying so much about global warming - something you don't have control over - and start focusing on the small things that you can do to clean up your own act - something you do have power over. Quit thinking about all the violence around the country and instead volunteer for a local youth group whose goal is to keep teens off the street and doing something positive with their lives. If you think the world is an unfriendly place, shovel an elderly person's driveway the next time it snows. You're not going to solve the world's problems, but you can contribute to a better world at home.
Smile More: We all know that the smile is a universal body signal of openness. It conveys that you are a friendly person and other people can take their guard down around you. But did you know that the act of smiling sends dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin to your brain? These all, in different ways, make us feel better and more positive. Even better, smiling is contagious. So not only are you making yourself feel better and more positive, you're making others around you feel the same way.
Obviously, no one can smile all day at everyone. And some things do make us frown. So actively seek experiences that will make you to smile. As suggested earlier, hang out with other happy people who smile. Read something funny. Watch your favorite comedians on YouTube. Reminisce on happy moments in your life. But if all else fails, fake it until you make it. Even a forced smile has similar benefits, though to a lesser degree.
Create a Cycle of Winning
As you find yourself becoming a more positive thinker, you'll be witness to positive changes in your career. You're more willing to take chances rather than talking yourself out of it. You'll feel more confident in your abilities. People you work with will enjoy your company more. More opportunities will be presented to you. Before you know it, you'll have achieved more than you first thought possible.
Are you ready to get started? I'm positive you too can be positive!
About RockIt Career Consultation Services
At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.
We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.
We'd love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!