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Think your way to success

With all the Valentines Day hype, I have allowed myself to be drawn into the let’s-talk-about-lurve vibe of this week.

I’m going to embrace it and talk about loving life and positivity as both will have a huge impact on your business. This article may be a bit ‘woo woo’ for some of you, but I’m not asking you to hop around on the pavement for me to identify your animal spirit, merely to adjust your mindset. And I’ve backed it up with some real life objective evidence…

How many times do we say ‘I can’t do that’, ‘I’m rubbish at…’, ‘Nothing ever seems to go my way’, ‘As usual, something went wrong’? And I’m sure you can add many, many more of your own to this short list.

We apparently have 70,000 thoughts a day, and of those 70% are negative. Which, if my sums are correct (quickly checks), is 49,000 negative thoughts a day.

No wonder we feel awful a lot of the time!

So, let’s stop it right there shall we?

Let’s look at a couple of examples of how belief impacted outcome. In both cases, in quite dramatic ways.

The first is the breaking of the four minute mile back in 1954 by Roger Bannister.  People had been trying to break this record for many years without success. In fact, it was believed that it was physically and physiologically impossible to do. Certain death would ensue if the time to do it was decreased any further as the body was incapable of managing such speed and surviving. So went the logic at the time.

History of course showed that Roger Bannister broke the record on the 6th May 1954 at 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.

An amazing result. However, what is more incredible is what happened next.  Over the next two years the record was broken 43 times!  Not because they got better running tracks or better running shoes; they continued to run on cinder tracks with the same running gear as before. What changed was belief. People finally believed that a mile could be run in less than four minutes, ergo the mile could be run in less than four minutes.

The second example is an experiment carried out by Rosenthal, a American psychologist. He wanted to see what would happen to school performance when students and staff were streamed by ability. He took 10 classes of 14 year old students at a school and put the best ones in to the top three classes and then selected the best three teachers to teach those classes.

The results were dramatic. As each term went by, the top three classes outperformed the other classes as follows:

Time Improvement over other classes
End of first semester 18%
End of 2nd semester 39%
End of 3rd semester 52%

By the end of the school year, the top three classes were 52% ahead of the others.  The teachers were of course ecstatic with the result and delighted with how enthusiastic and diligent the students had been. Rosenthal then dropped a bombshell. He hadn’t actually streamed the children by ability at all, he’d allocated them randomly to the classes. Unfazed the teachers cried that surely it showed how good they were that they managed to get exceptional results from a mixed bag of students. At that point, he dropped his second bombshell; he hadn’t actually chosen the best three teachers, he’d also assigned them at random.

So, what had made the difference? That old belief thing again. The students and teachers had believed they were the best, ergo they were the best. By a considerable margin.

(I have greatly simplified the experiment here. An excerpt from his work can be found here )

Which all goes to prove that the only thing that holds us back is ourselves.

Can you imagine what you might achieve if you actually believed you could?


Our mind is a wonderful thing – it will deliver what we ask it to. If we feed it negative thoughts, then guess what? Bad stuff happens and reinforces our belief that bad stuff happens.

I heard two great analogies last week about how malleable the mind is which I found very helpful.

Imagine a massive supertanker – plying its way between China and the UK. It’s controlled by the captain and crew – they plot the course and then navigate the tanker from A to B. Imagine now that the supertanker is your mind and you are the captain and crew. It’s up to you to plot that course and that supertanker (mind) will go wherever it’s told). Without the guidance of the captain and crew (you), it goes nowhere.

And the second is a farmer cultivating his land. The land will grow whatever it is the farmer decides to sow, whether it’s weeds or fields of corn. Again, the land is like our mind – it will deliver to us whatever we (the farmer) choose to plant in it.

We are the masters of our own destinies – we can choose to be positive and direct our actions that way, or we can choose to be negative and live our lives less abundantly.

“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”  Groucho Marx

Here are some top tips on how to take action today to help change your mindset:

  1. Commit to doing this for 30 days
    This is the time it takes to change a habit
  2. Visualise what your vision for success is.
    This could be a number of things depending on how you define success. It could be financial success, it could be mastering a language, writing a book or being the best mother/father you can be. Whatever it is that is that will make you feel fulfilled and it’s the thing you were always meant to do.
  3. Write it down.
    Yes, write it down. And then read it several times a day. Keep it with you. Read it when you get up in the morning, when you’re having your mid-morning drink, at lunch time, in the afternoon and before you go to bed. And any other time you feel the urge. Keep reminding yourself of where you want to get to.
  4. Act as if you’re there now.
    Fake it ‘til you make it. If you act as if it’s real, it will become real. Think positively about all the different ways you can overcome any obstacles – come up with some different solutions.
  5. Take action
    What do you need to do to make your vision reality? Act as though it’s impossible to fail.
  6. Banish the negative thoughts
    If a pesky negative thought tries to worm its way in. Thank it – this is part of your brain trying to protect you – but tell it gently that it’s all good and you’re doing things a different way now. And bat it gently away. If you do get overwhelmed by negativity and it all goes horribly wrong. Don’t beat yourself up. Just reset the clock to 30 days and start again.
  7. Pay it forward
    Give the love out in all directions. Who else can you support and help along the way? It doesn’t have to be big stuff; smile at someone, let someone out in front of your when you’re in your car, give someone a great referral. It may not come back to you now, but it will do. And you’ll feel great whilst making someone else’s day.
  8. Ask for support and help
    It can be very hard to keep positive for 30 days. This is not an easy thing to do when we’re conditioned to think negative thoughts. I am particularly bad at asking others for help. I had a particularly trying week last week and was feeling utterly awful. There have been tears, I won’t lie. But the moment I reached out – to a friend, to a work colleague and to someone I’m working with on my personal development, things shifted. I had an email confirming a piece of work I thought was dead in the water and a phone call arranging to meet with the directors of a company which may lead to more business. Happy days.

I am not suggesting any of this is easy – it’s not. Trying to break any habit is really hard and deeply ingrained negative habits are particularly hard to break. And this isn’t about suggesting it’s all down to fate or having blind optimism which I’m guessing some of you may think I’m doing. This is about a developing a positive mindset, having a plan and acting on it. Not that different from running your business. However, If your vision is to have made a million pounds by the end of the week from a starting point of zero, you may need to have a bit of a rethink!

I am going to try this for 30 days – if anyone wants to join me, let me know and we can set up a power group of support for each other.

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. And that’s the killer to all your dreams.

Nothing to fear but fear

A great friend of mine is living proof it works. She has turned her back on the comforting six figure contracts. Golden handcuffs are very hard to let go of if that’s what you’ve been brought up to do.  As I type, she is sitting in a villa in Bali having, in the space of two weeks, written her first book. I’ve never heard her sound happier or more that she feels she’s exactly where she needs to be. All through visualising exactly what it was she wanted to achieve and then making it happen.

I am going to finish with a request that you watch this video clip (that funnily enough appeared shortly after I asked for help too). This man is quite simply awe inspiring. Any time you think you can’t – watch this and realise you can!

Want to chat – email me –

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.