Success in business is determined by how you talk to yourself. Tell yourself you will fail and you most certainly will. Tell yourself you will succeed and you most certainly will. Consider the wise words of an old Cherokee.
The Wolves Inside Us
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
One wolf is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed!”
Which wolf will you feed?
If you pay attention to what’s going on in your mind, you will notice there’s a little voice that’s constantly talking to you all the time. It’s called your “self-talk” which is a result of your self-belief system. It’s a real chatterbox, and unlike a radio station, sometimes it’s truly hard to turn off. This self-talk (or inner dialogue) is a constant stream of positive or negative affirmations about the way you think. These inner thoughts either build or destroy your self-confidence and self-esteem depending on the thoughts you constantly feed your mind.
We all have a “wolf voice” inside us. Your negative self-talk is the evil wolf resulting in negative outcomes and your positive self-talk is the good wolf resulting in positive outcomes. The thoughts you feed your mind with, are the thoughts that will win the day.
If you are constantly feeding your mind with negative thoughts, consider the impact this has on you personally, your career and your business.
The problem is, when you consistently feed your mind with negative thoughts, your sub-conscious mind doesn’t know the difference between fact and fiction. It accepts everything you tell it as being true. Your inner voice can make or break the achievement of personal and business goals.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy
The problem with allowing your negative thoughts to consume your thinking, is that they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You repeat things in your mind concerning the situations and events in your life and business, often without even being aware of it. Words and thoughts like…..
- I’m no good at selling ……
- I can’t lead others, they don’t listen to me ……
- I’m a terrible manager …..
- I never make money …… it’s too hard ……
- What’s the use of trying to grow my business, I will only fail ……
- No-one’s going to pay that much for my products or services ……
- I hate prospecting …… no one ever takes my calls ……
- My staff are useless ….. they are always making mistakes ……
Yet successful people in business and winners think positive thoughts like….
- I can do it……, I will nail that presentation ……
- I am a winner…… people love doing business with me ……
- I always know the right thing to say and do ……
- I am successful at everything I do ……
- I always attract and hire the best people ……
- My customers love to work with me ……
- It’s easy to find new customers ……
- I’m a fantastic boss ….. my staff respect and admire me …..
Your self-talk works both ways. It’s impossible to have a positive and a negative thought at the same time. If you are going to repeat words and thoughts in your mind concerning the situations and events in your life and business, why not choose positive words and thoughts that will help you succeed and achieve your personal and business goals.
So how do you feed the “good wolf?”
Exactly the same way you feed the “evil wolf” – by constantly repeating or affirming in the positive, what outcomes you want or what you think about yourself.
What causes negative self-talk?
The greatest obstacle towards achieving success in business is the inability to back yourself and believe success is possible. Instead of focusing on your strengths (positive thoughts) you tend to focus on your weaknesses and limitations (negative thoughts).
Behavioral researchers have found than almost 75% of everything we think is in the negative not positive. According to Dr Shad Helmsetter, the reason we concentrate on the negative rather than the positive has to do with the negative programming we received in our formative years.
“During the first 18 years of our lives, if we grew up in fairly average reasonably positive homes, we were told ‘no’ on what we could not do more than 148,000 times. If you were a little more fortunate, you may have been told ‘no’ only 100,000 times, or 50,000 times. However for many, it was considerably more negative programming which determines how you think.”
If this is the case then it is no wonder we form a low opinion of ourselves and end up with low self-esteem.
Self-esteem can be defined as your internal belief system and how you respond to and experience life externally. In other words, self-esteem is the way you think and feel about yourself and others. Your self-esteem is usually measured by the way you act and the way you act is largely a result of how you feel.
Each of us is born with the capacity to experience positive feelings and form a positive self-image of ourselves. However it is also possible to learn not to like yourself and form a negative self-image leading to poor self-esteem. Either way, the feelings you have about yourself are largely a result of your life experiences and the influences in your life during your formative years. This often determines how you interact with others.
Low self-esteem is generally caused by negative emotional responses primarily from the experiences you had in your childhood. If you were constantly criticized by your parents, other adults and or your peers, it’s likely you formed a low opinion of yourself and as a result formed a low opinion of others. As a leader or manager, chances are this is how you respond to others by repeating what you learned in your formative years. Imagine the impact this has in the workplace.
Your self-esteem can change, sometimes daily depending on what you are experiencing or how you are feeling at the time. You may feel confident in one environment and an hour later move into a different environment and your feelings of self will change. This inconsistency in behavior affects the people around you.
Self-esteem is both conscious and unconscious. It is an ongoing self-evaluation of yourself leading to a belief about what you can and cannot do. It also determines how you interact and respond to others. Leaders and managers with low self-esteem tend to criticize condemn and complain more than leaders with good self-esteem.
What is the impact of negative thinking?
If you have low self-esteem and you criticize condemn and complain all the time, this will most likely affect the way you interact with your employees. The good ones leave and the not so good ones stay. Chances are, if you continually criticize, condemn and complain, employees will go through the motions, won’t try hard or simply give up. By not trying and giving up, they will learn to fail more often than they learn to succeed. This reduces their levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. This is a continuous feedback loop that reinforces the belief they have in themselves that they too are a failure.
Having high self-esteem on the other hand means that you have a positive sense of your inherent worth as a person. If you have high self-esteem, you are more likely to persist and overcome any challenges along the way. If you do persist, you will learn to succeed more often than fail, the result being, you gain more self-confidence and increase your self-worth.
High self-esteem manifests itself as having a great deal of self-confidence and developing a high sense of self-worth and self-respect which translates into more effective leadership and management.
Developing high self-esteem can be learned, but it does not happen overnight. The key to improving your self-esteem is how willing you are at taking responsibility for your feelings, thoughts, desires, abilities and interests and to focus on and accept your overall strengths.
To change how you think, check out Amy Cuddy’s amazing Ted Talk about striking up a power pose. Use this technique to improve your confidence before you meet with a new prospect, service a customer, make a presentation, meet with your bank manager or even look to inspire your people.
Catch yourself and others doing the right thing
As you can see, it’s a default mechanism for a leader, manager and co-workers to criticize condemn and complain. If employees feel like they never do anything right, then of course they will continue to do everything wrong. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why not catch your staff and co-workers doing the right thing instead. That too is a self-fulfilling prophecy and in turn they will do the right thing by your customers.
If you have a tendency to think negatively as a leader or manager, not only does this reflect on your employees, it also reflects on how they respond in the workplace, it’s infectious. If you are always catching others doing the wrong thing, they lose self-confidence which lowers their self-esteem to the point where they become negative as well. If others around you are unhappy and unfilled in their role, this will reflect on the service they provide your customers. As Richard Branson says, if you look after your employees they will look after your customers.
Your attitude determines your success as a leader. Successful businesses don’t happen by chance, they happen with the right attitude and the right self-talk. Like any new skills, practice catching yourself doing the right things through the power of positive thinking. When you change the way you talk to yourself, you change your results.
On a final note
Watch your self talk. Make sure its positive because if it is, you will attract successful relationships in your business.
In a Nutshell
- Your self talk determines your outcomes.
- If you have negative thoughts, chances are you will achieve negative outcomes.
- If you have positive thoughts, chances are you will achieve positive outcomes.
- By changing your self talk to being positive and believing in yourself, you will change your results accordingly.