Thoughts are powerful.
Thoughts can change everything from how caring and supportive we are, to what we weigh, to what we accomplish in our lives. Thoughts can lead us to become one of the most admired people on earth (Mother Teresa) or one of the most hated (Bernie Madoff).
From a practical standpoint, many of us look for ways to change our thinking in order to make incremental improvements in our lives. We search for ideas on becoming better parents, better professionals and better golfers. And my experience has shown me that the most effective ideas are simple.
Here’s an idea that I use regularly in my presentations, whether I’m speaking to young people or to seasoned professionals in the HOA industry. It is a straightforward reminder about the power and the impact that thoughts can have on our lives, both short- and long-term:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
What occupies the space between your ears impacts everything. Your thoughts and the way you think (your mindset, your approach to problems and opportunities) has a huge impact on whether you succeed, fail or land somewhere in between in every undertaking. This idea has been around forever (“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7). But because we are bombarded daily with new information, new events, new problems, it is incredibly easy to stray from healthy, positive thoughts. Isn’t it?
When it comes to one’s thinking, I’ve often shared the following rules of thumb with audiences to help them form good habits…and to get the mind “recalibrated” when needed:
Take action. Now!
Just do it. Git ‘er dun. Whatever your personal call-to-action is, use it! I have always been impulsive and have loved being in the middle of the fray, but taking action doesn’t necessarily come naturally to all of us. For some people, taking that first step is the hardest part of the process. This can lead to a lot of inaction and a lot of regrets. Decide and do.
You have NO excuses
Don’t make them; don’t even entertain them. You can waste a lot of time and energy on excuses when what you should be doing is working on a solution. I rarely make excuses, even when obstacles seem more or less insurmountable, probably because I’m too stubborn to take “no” for an answer.
Don’t believe in limits.
Sure, every man and every woman has limits, but when you start focusing on them, you’re as good as beaten. Ever hear of a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal? That’s the phrase used in the Jim Collins and Jerry Porras book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Get a BHAG and focus on that, not self-imposed limits.
Think before you react.
This is the rule that I repeat to myself most often. My biggest problems often stem from reacting before I really think something through. That’s my impulsive side, for better or worse. This rule of thumb highlights the need to focus on how we are thinking prior to making what could be an important decision. Call time out. Sleep on it. Let the emotion dissipate. Think it through; then react.
The thought I want to leave you with is about as simple and powerful as they get. It comes from James Allen, the British philosophical author of the classic As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote:
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
Think on that.