“If you’re like me, being upbeat—let alone envisioning a clear path to huge success—might not always come naturally, but by pushing yourself to think positively, to talk success, you can go a long way to turning success into reality!”
Thinking Success Goes a Long Way Toward Being a Success
If you picture yourself as someone who is ultimately going to succeed, then success is going to come a lot easier.
If, on the other hand, you picture yourself as someone who is either highly likely to fail or at least not make progress, then no matter how talented you are or how hard you work, it’s going to be very difficult to succeed.
Thinking success can catapult your career or business ahead and make you more effective in all kinds of different situations—from dealing with people, to concentrating on analytical issues, to developing creative ideas.
Thinking failure can stop you cold, like the icy moat or cold stone walls of a medieval castle, and make you less effective in dealing with people, less able to focus on your work, and less likely to develop creative ideas.
I have found that especially when struggling with starting and running a business that thinking success can be an incredibly important key to achieving business success.
You certainly want to do everything you can to learn and use the best practices in whatever you are doing. But it is easy to underestimate how incredibly important thinking success can be.
But if you’re at all like me, it’s not always easy to throw away the negative thoughts and fears and put on a positive outlook.
So how can you think success? Here are a few quick suggestions equally applicable whether you’re running your own business or trying to build a career.
The Success Formula
- Have a five-year plan for success.
- Realize that you, not others, ultimately control your success.
- Brainstorm alternatives to tough situations.
- Celebrate your achievements.
- Shrug off your setbacks.
- Develop a support network.
- Always stand for integrity in business.
- Remind yourself that every day is a new opportunity.
- Keep yourself in top physical condition.
- Always be open to learning new ideas.
Success Means Finding Alternatives
No matter what job you have or what business you are in, a lot of crummy things are going to happen to you along the way. But your ultimate success is going to have a lot more to do with how you respond to setbacks than with the setbacks you actually encounter.
Even after running my profitable book publishing business for many years, I was still dependent upon bank borrowing to finance growth, particularly because of our increasing inventory and accounts receivable financing needs. I remember one time in particular (although there was more than one) when I was blown away because an overhaul of our cash-flow forecasting showed we had underestimated our fall borrowing needs by 100 percent. I would need to borrow an extra million dollars—close to our limit—which would leave us in a dangerous position with absolutely no margin for error.
Uncomfortable with this outlook, I spent an entire evening searching for solutions, but emotionally I couldn’t get past the bad news, so I couldn’t find any solutions. However, the next day I woke up feeling refreshed and optimistic, and after thinking it through, I was able to shave more than $400,000 in expenses and realistically add $500,000 in projected new income.
If you have the right attitude, you can always find alternatives. And to be sure, part of my ability to find alternatives is a lot of experience in working my way out of tough situations using the power of “planning for profits.”
At business school, one of my classmates used to say that there is no such thing as fixed costs—in business, you can cut virtually any cost if you need to. Remembering this can give you lots of flexibility and confidence in your ability to work yourself out of almost any financial hole if you need to.
But my main point is about attitude: the night before, I had no alternatives because I wasn’t feeling successful, but the next morning when the feeling that I could succeed was there, not just one, but all kinds of alternatives suddenly appeared!
No Risk Means No Success
To really get ahead, you have to take some risks. No successful business or career was built without some risk taking.
This doesn’t mean you should walk off a cliff, but you do need to take calculated risks, after you have carefully collected and weighed all the information you can gather.
How much risk should you take? Well, how far ahead do you want to go? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the most spectacularly successful businesspeople have also had some spectacular failures and near-failures. Take Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, for example; they didn’t let their failures hold them back. (Come to think of it, with all of the failures I’ve had, maybe some really big success is just around the corner!)
However, you don’t want to take risks irrationally to prove you’re a brave soul willing to take chances. You should take risks when the risk/reward trade-off is the best alternative for moving your business ahead.
Successful People Celebrate
An important ingredient for success is celebrating each and every triumph—and forgetting about each and every failure—both with the people around you and with yourself, too.
This doesn’t come naturally to me, but I had a great sales manager who more than made up for it. I remember a time when I was complaining about my disappointment that our sales were off budget by 15 percent, but then he pointed out how happy he was that sales were up 20 percent over the previous year! His kind of talk breeds success.
At Adams Media, we published a book by Don Dwyer. At the time, Don’s various franchise empires had more franchisees than any other in the world—even more than better-known names like McDonald’s. Perhaps his most successful franchise system was a home-based cleaning enterprise.
Although he was hugely successful and wealthy, Don made his money focusing on the details, like the best way to get dog urine stains out of a carpet. Don also made his money by thinking success. Obviously, for Don, this was a learned trait—something he taught himself and that he wanted to teach others.
In his book, Target Success!, Don emphasizes how important it is to celebrate success even if you don’t hit your exact goals. If sales are budgeted to be up 20 percent, but they only go up 17 percent, celebrate anyway. Have a party for the company and give yourself a reward, too!
Just like thinking success doesn’t come naturally for me, neither does celebrating success. I was even singled out in a group of ten entrepreneurs I belonged to as the one who had the most difficulty celebrating success.
So if you, like me, are not good at thinking success, try these strategies and put in some effort—you will go a long way toward making success happen!
Takeaways You Can Use
- Thinking success breeds success.
- Have a plan.
- There are always alternatives in tough situations.
- Being in business means taking risks.
- Celebrate even small victories.
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