Are you a positive thinker? You may say yes, no, or sometimes…the latter I would guess is likely most accurate.

Taking the glass half-full or half-empty approach, we could contemplate, well, if I’m a positive thinker, it’s half full; if I’m a negative thinker it’s the latter – but what is this positive thinking stuff all about anyway and does it even matter?

To answer this last question, everything we do has an impact on the outcomes and circumstances of our lives, so in the spirit of this – yes of course the quality of our thoughts matter. However, I think that ultimately, in a cause and effect reality, it’s the choices we actually make because of our quality of thoughts that are impactful.

I have heard life coach Tony Robbins say that even he, himself, “is not a positive thinker”. I thought hey Tony, what do you mean? You’re a life coach!? But he did explain. He said that it would be like looking at your garden and saying,”There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds!!!”- meaning, say you did have a garden, and weeds started to grow; would the weeds go away by your positive (or negative) thinking alone? What if you were negative and cursed the weeds? Told them to BURN IN HELL! Would that get rid of your weeds? What if you visualized your weeds being gone and positively visualized your garden weed free and flourishing? No matter what type of thoughts you’re thinking, positive or negative – if you want those weeds gone – a good choice to get rid of them is to pull those suckers out – or at least invest in some weed killer! Now, can you come to that decision to take action by either one of those thought choices above? Sure – so what I hypothesize from this example, is we will think both in positive or negative terms about a situation or outcome, but the positive outcome gets determined by the choice to take action, whether it’s motivated by positive or negative thinking. I think we need both the good, the bad and the ugly, if you will, or as Tony puts it, the pain and the pleasure. Furthermore, from experience, I have seen negative thoughts or the fear of pain motivate positive action more frequently than positive thoughts. Fear of some kind of pain does seem to unfortunately be the ultimate motivator.

Again, of course these are some massive generalizations of how someone could react to a situation, but in the end, to reach a positive outcome, I can see where both thinking in a negative way or a positive way can lead someone to get either positive or negative results. I’ve experienced this recently with my youngest son, who is 10 years old. A few weeks back he was playing a video game and was very frustrated. He told me “dad, I’ll never beat this game. I just can’t do it – it’s too hard!” I didn’t say a word to him. However, about 45 minutes later he came back and said, “dad, I finally beat it!” Now what the heck happened in 45 minutes that took my 10 year old’s negativity into a positive outcome? I thought about this for a while and I noticed something that taught me a good lesson. While playing that game, he experienced all types of positive and negative thoughts and emotions, probably too many to count. So what made the difference for him? What kept him going until he beat the game? Even though there was some despair, it had to be mixed with some sense of accomplishment, even though he was making small progress. Maybe it was just enough to keep him going? Maybe that’s all it takes is for us – to see some progress, or the possibility of some good – to help us go on. Anyway, I know there was a lot of frustration over beating the game, so I said to him, “I thought you would never beat that game?” He said, “it was really hard, but I figured it out.” I was like, that’s it? It was hard, but I figured it out? I thought to myself – wow – how about that – “10 year old discovers the secret to success!” ** It was hard, but I figured it out. ** Positive thoughts and negative thoughts all played the part – but it was the final vision, the thought of the undiscovered promise of beating the game that made the difference. I guess the takeaway here is, as long as we have a vision and keep at it, we increase our chances of realizing it. read more

Today, I wanted to share my views on the power of persistence and how it impacts our personal success. A favorite quote of mine that really puts this power into perspective for me, is from American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He said, “The heights by great men reached and kept – Were not attained by sudden flight, – But they, while their companions slept, – Were toiling upward in the night.”

Isn’t this true? Success is for sure not an over-night experience. At least some toiling or hard work is certainly required. Look, can we succeed by trying once or twice, not getting the exact result we wanted and giving up? It’s obvious that to be successful at anything worthwhile, we need to keep working at it. However, many of us decide it’s to painful to continue putting in the necessary work. We simply fail to keep following through instead of going back to the drawing board, adjusting and trying again until we succeed. Why does this happen? Well, I certainly have some experience in this area. My list of excuses is likely too long to list so, I’ll keep the list brief:

  • There is just not ever enough time
  • I have to do this, or that
  • I am too tired right now, I will do it later

If you have ever used this type of self-talk, how did it make you feel? I know how it makes me feel – exhausted. I also know it’s almost impossible to achieve anything of importance when I’m in this exhausted physical and mental state. How can being persistent help? Also, how can we become “persistent”?

Persistence, to me, is a core personal ability we all have used at some point in our lives. We have likely used it when our backs had been against the wall and we needed to produce a result now, or else. We needed to be persistent to overcome the obstacles that stood in our way of some end goal. Once we committed to being persistent in that situation, we kept on going and did not give up until we completed what needed to be done.

Practice Persistence

How can we become better at persisting? Well, what is the goal you are trying to achieve? Why are you trying to achieve it? Who will benefit when you achieve that goal? How positively will it impact their lives and yours? Are you 100% committed to doing what it takes to achieve that goal? Do you know that oftentimes, people are so close to achieving a goal, but give up moments before they may have had a breakthrough that would have propelled them to succeed? Inventor Thomas Edison is a great example of someone who practiced the power of persistence. He worked relentlessly to create his inventions and succeeded greatly, but only after many failures. How successful would he have been if he did not persist? Quoting Edison himself, he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” What a great truth that is. If we keep working and adjusting and get a little farther each time, we will get closer and closer to achieving our ultimate goal. However, if we don’t persist and make those last few efforts, we just won’t get there. read more

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