Use Successful Thinking to Enhance Your Life and Business
By Chris King

Even though I listen to motivational tapes, read motivational books and receive and read a plethora of motivational newsletters, I have not attended a live motivational seminar in awhile. When I discovered that one of my favorite motivational gurus, Brian Tracy, was coming to Cleveland to present two three hour sessions this past Monday, I couldn't sign up fast enough. I am glad I did!

In this article I am going to share several of the epiphanies I experienced while listening to Tracy and thoughts that I have had since Monday. The first session started with Tracy pointing out that we are now in the Age of the Mind and that the most valuable asset and product of the future is "Thinking." By using our thinking powers, we will succeed in this time of more change, more competition - and yes, more opportunities. It will be those who think who will succeed!

The questions are the same. It is the answers that are different.

There are two kinds of minds: rigid minds and adaptive minds. And, I am sure you have dealt with both - and, possibly have vacillated between the two minds, yourself, at times. The number one quality that will bring us success, according to Tracy, is flexibility. We all get stuck at times doing our work and tasks one way, hanging around with the same people at the same places, following the same routine and thinking the same thoughts. I feel that some structure is definitely important, but I also know from experience the importance of being flexible. When a client says, "What if we tried this? What if we did it this way?" it is easy to point out that it just won't work - after all, aren't we the expert? We must, however, be flexible and adaptive enough to consider what might work about the idea. In this exciting age of technology and computers, there is no dearth of solutions. If you work with any of the computer programs, you know that there are dozens of different ways to reach your goal when working on a computer project. It is the same with all of the opportunities popping up around us. Ask yourself, "Can I adapt? Am I flexible enough to realize that the way I've always done something may not be the best way?"

Let's apply some "zero-based thinking" to our careers - our businesses and our lives as independent professionals, free agents and freelancers. Tracy pointed out that accountants use this technique of preparing a budget, in which each proposed item is evaluated on its merits without considering any previous budget. So, how can this work for us? Tracy challenged us to evaluate our lives and businesses by asking the question, "Knowing what I know now, is there anything that I wouldn't be doing? Is there anything I wouldn't get into?" What we are experiencing now will not change - it will not get better. He said this only results in stress, so think, "How do I get out and how fast?" You see, it has been proven that 70% of our decisions are wrong, so we all get into situations that are wrong. We start working with low profit customers that rob us of time and money. Tracy suggests firing them.

Tracy suggests to stop now:

  • Hurtful and draining relationships that are not working and never will.
  • Business products and services that are not producing income and joy.
  • Investments of time, money and emotion that are producing stress, not rewards.

It takes courage to examine what we are doing and where we are going. But if we honestly stop and think about it and then pull out of those activities and rectify those poor decisions we have made in the past, we will never look back.

While we are on the topic of successful thinking, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Carlson's "back burner thinking." Richard Carlson, Ph.D., stress psychologist and writer of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff … and It's All Small Stuff, describes my favorite way of solving problems and finding solutions. When we have a project, problem and/or challenge, we should state it to ourselves with all of the different approaches (seasonings) and then put it on the "back burner." Work and focus on completely different tasks and activities. Meanwhile, that problem on the "back burner" is simmering, with all of the different parts cooking together to come to a solution and/or answer. Suddenly, the solution is ready and we get the perfect answer or answers to our problem. This has always worked for me. I think one important rule is believing in the system. Because I know and expect "back burner thinking" to work, it does.

And, finally, I urge you to think about the following and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What results are expected of me, and do I have a reputation for getting results?
  • What is my direction? Do I have long-term goals?
  • What are my patterns? What do I do right, and what would I do differently in the future?
  • Do I continually work on improving my area of expertise, my knowledge, my wisdom and my experience?
  • How do I handle my time? Do I waste this valuable resource or manage it with excellence?
  • Am I committed, patient, disciplined and willing to take responsibility for my future?

You know the rest. It is time for reflection. Tracy is right. We live in a world filled with opportunities. We just need to think about how we can take advantage of them. I know, he got me thinking!

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