Has your career or business reached a plateau or, worse, a steady decline? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to gain some momentum and start making forward progress again? No matter what your challenge, moving to the next level is as much about what you believe as what you know.
As professionals, we’re quick to keep a pulse on our skills set, experience and training. When pursuing professional goals, however, we forget the one piece of the puzzle that can’t be traced to a university or place of employment. It’s your internal belief system. And it determines what you say to yourself, what you believe you deserve and what you’re willing to achieve.
What kind of self-talk is going on in your head?
The still small voice inside your head may be saying something like, “Stupid. How could you say that to a client. He’ll probably never call back now.” Inner monologues like this is what’s known as self-talk, and it’s either crushing, as this comment is, or positive.
Unfortunately, there’s likely more trash talk going on in people’s heads than positive affirmations. Truly successful people know the difference and keep close tabs on what kind of self-talk is allowed.
At a conference in Delray Beach, FL, success guru Ted Nicholson revealed his technique for writing control-breaking sales materials. It starts with positive affirmations. But Ted doesn’t just mumble a few positive thoughts. He shouts them until he knows they’re true. (Imagine cranking up the music on your computer and dancing in your cubicle while shouting, “I feel terrific! I love my job!”)
Here’s the good news. Motivating self-talk doesn’t have to be over the top. I heard an interesting quote from copywriter Shawn McCool recently. “If anyone can do it, then anyone can do it. And if anyone can do it, I can do it.” Much of his success stems from the basic belief that if success is available, it’s available to him.
Start with your attitude
Zig Ziglar likens our thoughts to bean seeds planted in a garden. Just as one seed grows into a plant and produces hundreds of new beans, one thought planted in your mind will multiply. It’s important that you only allow positive thoughts to be planted in the fertile ground of your mind.
People speak into your life positively and negatively. When negative comments come, you must evaluate whether they’re true. If so, take them to heart and act on them. If not, disregard them. Otherwise, as Zig says, you allow them to “build a ceiling over your capability.”
Plateaus often begin at the point where we reach the bottom-most ceiling built by negative self-talk. Ironically, these ceilings are only paper-thin, built of words and attitudes. Breaking through could be easy if we only believed it was possible.
We tend to be like the circus elephant, held fast by nothing more than a rope around his ankle. The elephant could easily snap the rope and win his freedom, but he has no idea of his own power when it comes to that rope. Where did he get the idea that such a small thing was an impossible obstacle? When he was a calf, that rope was strong enough to restrain him. If he pulled against it, it always held him back. Over time, he learned it wasn’t worth trying to pull against it, to the point that at a healthy 15,000 pounds, Jumbo still believes the rope will hold him back.
Is a simple rope holding back your success?
The most critical ingredient to keeping your success on track is a positive attitude. If you’re on a plateau, you’re likely experiencing head trash in the form of negative self-talk and bad attitudes.
Here’s a test. For one week, pay attention to the things you say to yourself. Pay special attention when something great happens and when a disappointment occurs. What kind of self-talk is going on in your head? Is it generally positive or negative?
Now evaluate why. What thought is holding you back? Are people planting negative thoughts in your mind — and are you letting them? Are you doing anything to plant positive thoughts instead?
You must believe success is possible for you. If anyone has ever done what you want to do, you know it can be done. And if anyone can do it, so can you. Wildly successful people know this, and they never accept that there’s an obstacle to their forward momentum.
Are you facing a low-hanging ceiling? Break through it. Start by listening to your self-talk and making necessary adjustments to your attitude. After all, attitude is everything.