But surprisingly enough, if you take a walk outside, you'll see that the sky hasn't fallen. And until it does, you've got some work to do to counteract all the negative messages out there.
High achievers know it's critical to maintain a positive mental outlook, no matter what's going on around them. So how do you develop and maintain a winning attitude? Here are some strategies I use personally to stay positive in a negative world:
- Revisit your mission statement. The starting point of all high achievement is a clear sense of purpose. Your mission statement is your personal pledge of allegiance, a description of who you are and what you are all about. The first thing I do with all of my clients is have them develop a mission statement, then have them commit it to memory and recite it every morning. Why? Because that was the secret of success for the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Woodrow Wilson. Napoleon Hill, in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, stated, "Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.
- Affirmations. Before you can become a "legend in your own time," you must first be a legend in your own mind. One way to do this is to use affirmations: repetition of positive statements in the present tense as if they were already a fact. A simple example is to affirm, "I am a top achiever!" You need to talk, dress, and act like a winner. Affirmations are a key strategy for many top performers. Many people are reluctant to use affirmations, thanks in part to Al Franken's character Stuart Smalley, who'd earnestly look into his mirror to do his "daily affirmations" on Saturday Night Live. The hilarious parody had the unfortunate side effect of making affirmations appear pretty silly and pathetic. Yet Brian Tracy, a world leader in personal development training, says that he personally uses affirmations on a daily basis. So who are you gonna believe on this matter: Stuart Smalley, a fictional underdog, or Brian Tracy, a real-life achiever?
- Review your goals. There's a famous 20-year study of Harvard graduates that demonstrated the power of goal setting: researchers found that only 3% of a graduating class had clearly written goals. Twenty years later they documented that this group of goal-setters had accumulated more wealth than the other 97% combined. This link between goal setting and success is not lost on high achievers; they commit clear goals to writing and review them regularly.
- Visualization. One of the important skills taught to professional athletes is mentally picturing specific successful outcomes (e.g., the perfect golf swing) while in a meditative state. If this skill improves performance for millionaire athletes, why wouldn't it work equally well for you? Visualize closing a big deal, seeing your name at the top of the production chart, being congratulated by the boss, etc. Remember, you need to "see" it before you can believe it.
- Positive mental input. Why not decide what gets into your own brain? Take on the challenge of a "media fast" for a week—shut off the TV, ignore the newspaper, avoid commercial radio, and so on. Most media is designed to "addict" you to without benefiting you. As an example, suppose you listen to talk radio in the morning—anybody from Rush Limbaugh to Howard Stern. Question: How much money has listening to them put in your pocket? (Answer: None!) So I suggest you replace this negative input with reading success books, listening to motivational audio programs or books on tape, and attending skill-building seminars. This will have a positive effect on your attitude and your bottom line.
- Physical exercise. High achievers understand the importance of staying in shape. Just like professional athletes, those who make it to the top know they must keep themselves fit. And a regular workout regimen has a multitude of benefits—it reduces stress, clears the mind, builds endurance, and provides that "look of a winner" for attracting and keeping business. It makes no difference what form of exercise you choose, just as long as you enjoy it enough to do it 4 or 5 times a week.
- Positive support group. When it comes to success, like-minded people attract. So if you want to be a top producer, start hanging out with them, not with the also-ran characters that lurk about the water cooler—you'll be guilty by association. One assignment I give my clients is to identify successful people in their company, then invite them to lunch to find out what they're doing. Most high achievers are flattered by invitations to share their success stories.