To be a winner, you have to think like one – as positive thinking is the key to success, according to psychologists. It seems deeply entrenched self-belief can significantly impact your chances of achieving your dreams.
It was the American business magnate Henry Ford who famously said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”
The founder of Ford Motor Company launched his business in 1903 and built it up into a global market leader by pioneering a new system to mass produce affordable automobiles for consumers. A self-made man with a net worth of $2 billion in today’s terms, right up to the time of his death in 1947, he always believed he could succeed.
The challenge is getting in the right mindset to follow your chosen path. As Ford also said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”
Power of thought
Neuroscience has given new insight into theories of self-belief and leadership, as a result of recent studies. Scientists cite the exciting theory of neuroplasticity as a reason to think positively. This refers to the brain’s ability to form new connections and change itself, enabling us to make the transition from self-criticism to self-belief.
They say it’s a simple question of being determined and practicing positive thinking in a consistent and focused way. In our brain, there’s continual conflict between two different mindsets, labelled “abundance” and “lack” by neuroscientists.
When we’re thinking from an “abundance” perspective, we’re choosing to view life and work from a positive perspective. We reframe failure as part of progressing our success. We regard the learning experience and challenges as a valuable means of moving forward.
However, when we’re thinking from a “lack” perspective, we’re governed by fear. We’re in a negative mindset and feel more attuned to the things we don’t have and all that is wrong with our life.
When you’re a business leader, this “glass half empty” approach may cause you to ignore exciting ideas and opportunities that represent a risk. You may shy away from any unfamiliar venture, sticking with the tried and trusted. When your thinking is ruled by lack, you’re also more likely to cling to the status quo, even if it isn’t particularly successful.
When in this frame of mind, our emotions and memories combine to recall a catalogue of our past failures. This may be corporate disasters where risky decisions have damaged the company, or a humiliating, personal, career flop.
You need to take action fast to disrupt what’s going on in your mind. You must put all your energy into thinking in a different way.
The antidote is to reframe your failures as the route to success. Think of them as a useful learning experience that has made you the successful business leader you are today.
Think in a positive way and remember you always have the power to change, grow and improve. You may find this a challenge if you’re not a natural optimist, but you must persevere in changing the way you think and behave.
Keep a journal to acknowledge your successes. Use positive affirmations and get into the habit of speaking positively in your conversations with others. These are powerful ways of switching on your emotional circuitry centred on trust, love, excitement and joy in the brain. This, in turn, will trigger the release of a hormone known as oxytocin that makes us feel positive towards other people. This builds our own self-belief and faith in ourselves to make good decisions.
As well as writing down everything you have done well each day, keep telling yourself a personal affirmation, such as, “I make great decisions. I can get through anything.”
If you’re about to respond to something in a negative manner in the workplace such as, “That wouldn’t work,” or, “We haven’t got time to think about that,” stop yourself. Consider whether there’s a more optimistic outlook and whether you have lapsed into “lack” mode.
Take yourself out of your comfort zone and consider some of the achievements you could make with more self-belief and a positive attitude. Remember, everyone can learn from past mistakes and turn them into future successes.
The fact you have started a business and taken the first step on the road to success is a testament in itself to your own will to achieve greatness. Remind yourself of this every day and rather than dwelling on past failures and allowing them to shape your future, remember they are all part of the learning curve that has made you the person you are today.
Author Sandra Cooze, who suffered traumatic life experiences in her teenage years, said she managed to escape the ensuing darkness through self-belief. She said her past trauma helped her to discover her inner light when she started to realise she could thrive because of what happened, rather than in spite of it.
The secret is to take your power back and turn events of the past into a force for good, rather than despair. Cooze reminds us, “Every goal we reach has once been part of a dream we thought would never come true.” She was inspired to write books of positive verse after her mother gave her a blank book, containing one poem that began, “Never say, ‘I can’t do it’.”
These positive thoughts translate into the business world, creating the great entrepreneurs and leaders.
You will never hear some of the world’s highest achievers and business magnates say, “We can’t do this.” To progress to the highest level; the key is to instill the same positivity within yourself.
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