The Success Mind | Career Rocketeer - Career Search and Personal Branding Blog

Some top athletes make the Olympics. Others, apparently at least as skilled, do not make the cut. The difference between those who make it and those who do not is subtle, but critical: between athletes of approximately equal skill, victory goes to those who can best imagine succeeding. Of course, there are no shortage of athletes who will insist that they very definitely imagined winning. It turns out that anticipating success is not quite as simple as it would sound.

Everyone who has used a computer is quite familiar with the term WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get. However, its application extends far beyond MSWord or the latest page layout or web page design software. The most successful individuals and teams tend to have a very clear picture of what their success will look like. As Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura notes, nothing succeeds quite like the expectation of success. Conversely, nothing improves the odds of failure quite like the expectation of failure.

So if anticipating success is key for an athlete to be successful, does the same concept apply in other areas? The answer is a resounding yes. Whether designing a chip, writing software, selling insurance, writing a book, or arguing a legal case, being able to imagine success creates a powerful, optimistic mindset. It really does matter whether the glass is half full or half empty: as Martin Seligman observed, seeing the glass as half full leads to greater energy, persistence, and creativity on the task at hand. Seeing it as half empty, on the other hand, does just the opposite.

The problem, unfortunately, is that many people are taught to anticipate failure. The reasons why something will not work are frequently seen as logical and sensible, while the optimistic side of the equation is seen as Pollyannaish. Face it, whether one is striving for a blackbelt in a martial art, a major promotion at work, or to build the latest and greatest social networking site, it’s all too easy to imagine the many things that can go wrong. It’s harder to imagine what can go right; harder still to transform a list of things that can go wrong into the prerequisites to causing things to go right.

So how does one develop a Success Mind? There are several key skills involved:

  • Take the time to imagine success. Enjoy the sensation. Fill in details, either in your mind or in writing.
  • Work backwards from that success state to where you are now: create a roadmap. Identify the goals required at each stage and write them down.
  • Anticipated problems are opportunities in disguise: a problem is alerting to a need for information, skills, or resources. Identify what you need and incorporate obtaining it into your roadmap.
  • Do not be derailed by negativity. Everyone has moments where they feel they cannot possibly succeed. Bruce Lee liked to imagine writing down negative thoughts on a piece of paper, crumpling it up, and throwing it away. Practice this skill before you need it so that it will be there under stress.
  • Manage stress. Allowing stress to get out of hand limits creativity, imagination, persistence, and energy. It doesn’t matter whether you meditate, exercise, listen to music, cook, or engage in some other relaxing activity. What matters is that you give yourself a break and a chance to think about something other than the problem at hand.
  • Get enough sleep. This may seem obvious, but I have found that the biggest “duhs” come from the people getting the least sleep. Lack of sleep will very quickly interfere with creativity, judgement, and decision making.
  • Celebrate successes. Take the time to enjoy your successes along the way. Periodically review your progress and see how far you’ve come. We are motivated more by seeing how much we’ve accomplished than by how much we haven’t. Seeing progress increases optimism and motivation. Dwelling only on how far we’ve fallen short does just the opposite.

The Success Mind is not the province of a few top people. It can be developed by anyone who puts in the time and effort. It’s all a matter of identifying which skills you need to work on and developing them. To someone who has truly developed a Success Mind, even catastrophic failure is merely a temporary setback.

Good luck!

Guest Expert:

Stephen Balzac is a consultant and professional speaker. He is president of 7 Steps Ahead, based in Stow MA. Contact him at 978-298-5189 or

Posted via web from AndyWergedal