By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in the Pacific Northwest – Seattle on Tuesday, Portland on Wednesday and Eugene, Oregon on Thursday for awards ceremonies with agents from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Real Estate Professionals, led by president and CEO Jason Waugh. As I celebrated the achievements of these teams across the Pacific Northwest, I was reminded about the importance of taking time to understand the mental dexterity necessary to accomplish your goals.
Have you ever stopped to think about achievement? Have you ever wondered why one person becomes successful—rich in opportunity, income, friendships, family and professional connections—while another person seems to constantly flail or worse, exists in a state of career stagnation? Some might think it’s just luck or circumstance that decides how successful a person can be. But as experts widely agree, there is no chance when it comes to success.
Dating as far back as Aristotle, when most people believed in the idea of fortunes singularly dictating their future, the great philosopher put forth the idea that proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause. Aristotle believed in reason, in the notion that these causes can explain everything that happens in the world. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states: “Since Aristotle obviously conceives of a causal investigation as the search for an answer to the question ‘why?’ and a why-question is a request for an explanation, it can be useful to think of a cause as a certain type of explanation.”
In the realm of Aristotelian causality, the question still remains: What causes one person to be successful while another person is not? Researchers say success is the result of the psychological framework that structures your every thought because your thoughts ultimately determine your actions. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, 350,000 business professionals were asked what they think about most of the time. The top 10% surveyed—the “successful” professionals—said they think about the kind of income growth they’d like to achieve and specifically how they’re going to achieve it. The unsuccessful survey respondents said they think about what they don’t want, what they don’t have and who was to blame for the unwanted state of their existence.
As the study explained, when you revise your thinking to envision the positive completion of your goals, your thoughts go to work helping you achieve them. When you focus on the negative, your goals remain unfulfilled. Your thoughts determine your actions. What you think about every day is sketching the real picture that will become your actual life. If you tell yourself you can achieve anything, you will perform the actions necessary to make it happen.
It’s widely understood your thoughts are a result of your self-concept, which in psychological terms is the collective beliefs you hold about yourself, your capabilities and the condition of the world around you. Each person experiences the world as a culmination of his or her self-concept, so each person experiences the world in a completely different way.
Self-concept is broken into three parts:
- The ideal self. This is the combination of all your goals and aspirations throughout your entire life. The ideal self is the very best version of yourself and it’s the version successful people see themselves becoming, no matter what. There isn’t a setback or challenge that can ever stand in the way of a person who has a clear vision of his or her ideal self.
- Self-image. This is how you see yourself and think about yourself at the present moment and it determines your productivity, output, efficiency and ability to accomplish your goals. Have you had a big meeting and prior to the meeting pictured yourself nailing the presentation or commanding the room with such confidence and poise, every objective you wanted to accomplish comes to fruition? Then, when you do step into the actual meeting, these thoughts become reality and you really do ace it. This is your self-image at work. Unsuccessful people imagine themselves failing. Their mind goes directly to the worst-case scenarios. Successful people imagine themselves succeeding … and then they do.
- Self-esteem. This part of self-concept is about how much you like yourself. When you have greater self-esteem, you are more positive and happier, which is a state that is highly contagious, so you attract and retain more positive, happy people around you. People like to be around those with optimistic, upbeat attitudes and see them as high-value individuals; your worth in the world increases just because you believe in your ability and potential.
So, what’s the message? Over the next few weeks I want to dive deeper into the thinking behind achievement to determine exactly how we can re-shape our thoughts to proactively revolutionize our personal and professional lives. Every single thought that escapes our minds lands somewhere as a real, tangible action and affects the outcome of our goal-attainment. By changing our thoughts, we can change our ability to succeed.