Challenge Negative Self Talk To Improve Your Life

Challenge Negative Self-Talk

This goal is this article is to provide tips on how to challenge the stories we tell ourselves.  I have been comparing the work of two experts (Marty Seligman and Tony Robbins) to research this article. While Dr. Seligman focuses on Optimism and how to reduce helplessness, Tony Robbins is known for his belief in Neuro-linguistic Programming (conditioning our minds).

quote from Marty Seligman

If your first reaction is negative, ask yourself ‘why’?

Frustration Is A Normal Part of Life

Dr. Seligman is the forerunner of how pessimism can lead to depression. In his book Learned Optimism, he leads with a test so that you can see what your natural tendencies are in regards to pessimism and optimism. He points out that “frustration, defeat and rejection”[1] are part of normal life. Brilliantly, Seligman gets you aware of your attitudes and beliefs so that you stop telling yourself bad things. Further, if you do tell yourself negative things, Dr. Seligman suggests that you challenge the self-talk before it becomes a belief:

Much of the skill of dealing with setback, of getting over the wall, consists of learning how to dispute your first thoughts in reaction to a setback.”[2]

While Dr. Seligman uses ‘disputation’, Tony Robbins uses the term ‘evaluation.’ Seligman is trying to keep people from getting depression and Tony Robbins is offering tools to help unlock hidden potential. I believe that is a significant element in the comparison.

Example: Improving Our Diet with Better Inner Questions

Tony Robbins states that “If we want to change the quality of our lives, we should change our habitual questions.”[3] This idea is wise and practical. If we can ask the right questions – on a regular basis – then we can get better results. For instance, ‘do I really want to eat that fat bomb?’ or ‘Is there too much sugar in that SODA?” Asking these two questions repeatedly leads me to lean foods and water.

These ideas have been the basis behind my research into The Attitude Thermostat. Attitude is situational. My belief is that we need to be aware of reactions and challenge the ones that are negative. Examine the stories that you tell yourself before you develop ‘personal fake news.’ It can change your life.

[1] Learned Optimism. Martin E.P. Seligman. Random House. Vintage Books. 2008. P 285

[2] Learned Optimism. Martin E.P. Seligman. Random House. Vintage Books. 2008 P 263

[3] Awaken the Giant Within. Tony Robbins. Simon and Schuster. P 179 1991

The Question is “How Will We Live Today?”

The Question is “How Will We Live Today?”

I am walking into a meeting when my phone rings. The number in the display is unfamiliar… It is my son calling from Afghanistan where he is on deployment! As you can imagine, I am the worried father. I literally beg him to be careful. The young lieutenant stuns me by asking…

The question is not whether we will die today… the question is how will we live today?

Picture the look on my face when I hear this question! I’m laughing a little, at the time, but inside, an awakening is occurring.  My son reminds me that we have a choice about how we approach life. By asking the right question, he also reduces my angst, worry, and stress.

Our attitude can change using an inner question

A question can change the way we approach life

Can Inner Questions minimize the stress?

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”[1]
– William James

This real life experience from several years ago sparks my research into attitude, initial reactions and the role of inner questions in optimism. The journey involves focus groups, interviews, reading and deep research. A professor (Dr. Julie Johnson at Western Carolina) is kind enough to invite me to be a guest lecturer. Dr Johnson suggests that I read the book “Learned Optimism” by Marty Seligman. After taking the test that comes with the book, I read “Learned Optimism” three times. I begin comparing the work of Seligman to Tony Robbins. I also design the Attitude Thermostat and go through various versions and prototypes.The articles and findings that I share on this blog are the result of over two years of post graduate work. The discoveries surpass insights from my Master’s Degree experience at Georgia State University in Human Resource Development.

What Can You Expect?

This blog site will share articles, insights and findings that I believe readers will find increases their happiness and effectiveness in life. Yes – we can choose one thought over another and the way to do that is with questions. The question that kicked it all off is the one that started it all – How will we live today? It leads the to second question: Who will we serve? I believe we should all ask these two questions every single day. I have more inner questions to share with you. Stay tuned!

[1] http://www.awaken.com/2013/07/william-james/

Improve Your Competitive Analysis

What Basic Questions Should Competitive Analysis Answer?

Business without a competitive analysis is like a bicycle without tires. As a leader, knowing your strengths is where the rubber hits the road! Sales and Marketing will need a comparison to properly steer the understand of pricing, placement and promotion. Specifically, high performing sales people want to know the industry, the competitors and even indirect alternatives. There are a lot of choices available to customers – how are you DIFFERENT?

Here are four basic questions that will provide structure to your research:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What products and services do they offer?
  • What are the features, advantages and benefits to their offering?
  • How do we position our organization versus our competitors in our sales and marketing message?

Is Positioning a Noun or a Verb?

Oh – you noticed that the last question is not as basic as it appears! It is tempting to get into feature/function comparisons. However, organizations have different processes, patents and approaches that provide differentiation. Position can be a noun, but in competitive analysis is is a verb. You want to place your brand in the buyers brain in relation to their needs – not the competition. Who cares if you rank third in revenue if you solve the issues of the buyer?

S.W.O.T. Analysis Provides Useful Comparisons

One useful tool is a S.W.O.T. analysis. S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This acronym can also help you create a useful comparison tool for all of your competitors. Simply create a table and list S.W.O.T across the left and your competitors across the top.

Competitive Analysis and Differentiation

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats!

Comparisons Provide Differences

Break out your competitive comparisons by listing your competition across the top and SWOT attributes on the left. Your research should uncover the strengths and opportunities that your competitors are highlighting. What markets are they targeting? What new products and services are they promoting? News Flash – your enemies will not tell you their weaknesses or what they perceive as a threat. You have to figure that out on your own!

Here is a good resource I found that includes an e-book and video for performing in depth SWOT reports:

http://articles.bplans.com/how-to-perform-swot-analysis/

 

 

 

 

Passion Sparks Action!

Passion Sparks Action!

A passionate attitude is a new beginning… the outlook that we can change the world, one small step at a time.

Passion is the Genesis of Genius[1] – Anthony Robbins

My brother believes strongly in recycling. You could say he has a passionate attitude about it. One day, at a family reunion, he gathers up all the plastic bottles. As people watched, he quietly took the bottles to a recycling center. When he returns, someone asks “what are you doing?” and he has statistics ready to share. My brother tells us how long it takes a plastic bottle to break down, and how easily it can be recycled. Soon, he has converts, and now almost everyone in the family recycles.

Passion Sparks Action

Recycle those bottles!

Can you see the genius in what my brother did? His Inner Q – the combination of questions, curiosity and passion, motivated him to do research. His preparation put him in the perfect position to elicit change. Prior to his witness, he discovered the nearby recycling center. He memorized the facts he needed. He waited until he had a captive audience, and made his move. His passion became the genesis of genius – creating real and lasting change.

What do you believe in and what are you willing to do about it?

Are you willing to exert maximum effort?

[1] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/tonyrobbin147797.html

Adjust Your Attitude Thermostat!

What If We Could Tune Our Attitude?

One day I am watching the news on television. Stories about crimes, politics and stock markets make me nervous and slightly worried. By coincidence, it is a chilly morning so I move to adjust the thermostat. An idea comes to mind! What if I could tune my attitude the same way I change the temperature? Could I instantly return to a sunny disposition?

Adjusting our attitude with Inner Questions

The Attitude Thermostat

The Attitude Thermostat

Imagine a dial, similar to your heating and cooling thermostat. On this dial are six attitudes, and a disk you can turn to alter your outlook. The Attitude Thermostat is a tool that will help you move from negative reactions to positive outcomes using inner questions and effort. In this exploration of viewpoints, effort, and awareness, there are also tips on how to overcome setbacks.  The Attitude Thermostat is a visual reminder that will help you sustain a positive mental conditioning process. We will share ways to become more passionate in your approach to issues, challenges and obstacles. The real power will be inner questions to help you set, reach and exceed your goals!

Key Questions

What if YOU could adjust YOUR attitude on command?

Is it possible that there are areas of our life where you can try harder?

There may be areas of your life where you are very passionate and optimistic. However, there may be situations that cause discouragement and angst. The goal of this blog will be to help you harness applied optimism that is realistic, and practical.  My method will be to share true stories, examples and case studies about people who overcome adversity. Please add to the discussion with comments and questions of your own! Be sure to sign up for the blog so you get these stories sent directly to your personal email account.

Make Silence Your Ally

Have you ever noticed that when you ask a question, and the other person is thinking about what you said… that there is a quiet pause? It is very important to keep your focus, be patient and wait for the answer. Let’s call that a comfortable silence. If you have brought up a touchy subject (like politics, sex or religion), then you may have what is called an awkward silence.

Make Silence Your Ally

Why is silence sometimes uncomfortable?  Any negative comment will often create a hostile reaction (i.e. racial slur, insult, stereotype or gossip). So, avoid negativity and if you don’t have anything good to say, be quiet! Your silence is neither criticism nor approval. Rather, it is a signal to change the subject.

'silence is a signal

Silence means ‘change the subject!’

The old policy of avoiding politics, sex and religion helps prevent awkward silence. Practical people may want to weigh the consequences of bringing up polarizing topics. In the 9/26/16 issue of Harvard Business Review, Liane Davey says “If you wade into an issue that’s highly [divisive], you risk souring a relationship.” You can read about it at…. https://hbr.org/2016/09/should-you-talk-about-politics-at-work

Unless you are around close friends or people that are very interested in particular topics, then you should avoid these subjects. Why? These topics provoke disagreement and negative reactions – that’s why. So, what should you talk about?

Ask People About Their Occupation!

My father is a great conversationalist.  M.S. Van Hecke often says “Try asking people about their work environment and what they do for a living.” It really works too – I’m constantly amazed at how people open up when it comes to their profession.

Then, listen to what they say and laugh at their punch lines! Hang on their words and ask follow up questions.  Become fascinated with other people and watch how comfortable it is to be silent.

Frustration Has Consequences

Frustration Has Consequences

Enes Kanter is a professional basketball player for Oklahoma City in the National Basketball Association.  According to bleacherreport.com, He has a four-year, $70 million contract. But on January 26th, 2017, he made a split second decision in frustration. Dailymail.co.uk reports that Kanter, Oklahoma City’s third-leading scorer and top candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, fractured his right forearm while punching a chair during a timeout in the second quarter. What are the consequences of his impulsive reaction?

League sources told ESPN’s Royce Young on Thursday that he could miss up to two months. This will cost his team wins and Mr. Kanter will have to sit on the bench wishing he had better control over his emotions and ultimately, his behavior.

Would you like to watch him self sabotage?

Everyone Experiences Frustration

This could happen to any of us, right? First, we make a mistake or something happens. Then, we respond passionately. However,there are usually costs to our tantrums. This could happen at the office, at home or on the golf course right? If we get frustrated at a co-worker – we could punch the water cooler. We might come home from work and smash the television set. Perhaps you hit a bad shot off the first tee and break your driver over your knee.

Impulsive Anger Has Costs

For regular people, losing control has massive negative outcomes. If we punch the water cooler, we get written up and sent to human resources. If we break the T.V., we scare the spouse and our children. Plus, we have to buy a new television!  If you are a bad sport on the golf course, you will lose friends and be dropped from your foursome.

Grow Up!

Kanter needs to mature and get a grip on his thoughtless actions. If he can learn to channel his frustration into development, he might move from sixth man to starter.  He should have to pay back some of his salary and get some counseling.

 

Networking and Referral Generation

All businesses need leads! 

How can you get new leads for your business? Two strategies to consider are networking and referral generation. The late Zig Ziglar said…                                                                                                                                                 “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want!” 

Networking will save you time and will build your business. But the first rule of networking is to help the other person first. Many professionals pass information and share business contacts. Why shouldn’t salespeople refer customers to each other?

  • Attorneys regularly refer potential clients to each other.
  • Doctors refer patients to other physicians.

 

Networking Develops Reciprocal Relationships

Many professionals can also develop reciprocal relationships. Real estate agents know mortgage brokers, home repair experts, and attorneys so they can refer business and expand their network. Many salespeople (including me) belong to a lead-sharing club where salespeople with non-competing interests meet regularly to exchange leads. Help the members of your networking team before they help you! You will be amazed at the results.

Case Study: Medical Market

My sales career has always involved technology – primarily in the medical industry. When selling Practice Management Systems to veterinarians, I found that Blood Analyzer Representatives know the market and all the buyers. So, I formed a networking group in all my major cities. I would visit each representative, introduce them to my clients and keep them on an e-mail list. My goal was to get my networking partners leads as soon as possible. Over time, the flow of referrals (leads) grew, and it really provided a boost in business for everyone in the group.

When networking, ask for referrals

How do you get referrals? Ask – early and often !

Ask for Referrals!

Referral generation is the success habit of continually asking people for introductions. Ask your friends, family members, customers, and anyone else you come into contact with for referrals! If you are shy about this, think twice about your reluctance. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising tool in business. Ask the people you know to talk up your business and pass along the names of people who can benefit from your products and services.

Make your buyers aware that you prefer to do most of your business by word of Mouth. Ask people you deal with (and bump into) for referrals. Follow up every sale by producing a list so that buyers can write in the names of acquaintances, neighbors, associates and professional contacts. If you network and get referrals, then your business will grow!

What are your dreams and aspirations?

What are your Dreams and Aspirations?

You may want find a quiet place where you cannot be interrupted for a short, visual mental workout concerning your dreams and aspirations that could change your life! Use a single page of white paper and a pencil. Turn the blank piece of paper horizontally (landscape). Draw a single line across the page that represents the your life. At the beginning of the line, chart some past milestones. Here is an example…

achievements, dreams and aspirations

Example from http://www.mycareerplan.net/career/ch2-a.htm

Create Milestones

What is a milestone? In years past, people put rocks along the road as a marker for a certain place. Now, a milestone represents a stage or phase in achievement. The point of a milestone in this exercise is to start by looking back at past accomplishments. Then, pick out some future ambitions like they have already occurred! This simple act will make reaching your dreams possible in your mind! The point of this exercise is to get your aspirations out of your head and onto a piece of paper!

Dare to Dream

Not as easy as it used to be? Go ahead, dare to dream. Reach for new possibilities. If you could let a genie out of the bottle and get three wishes, what would they be? Could even one of those wishes go on your Lifeline? Here are some possible FUTURE milestones…

  • Is there a dream vacation on the horizon?
  • Is there a charity you can start?
  • Would you like to change careers ? (the web site below has a great career lifeline example)

http://www.loveyourcareer.org/understand-yourself/17-understand-yourself/lifeline/11-lifeline

Put Your Lifeline in a Visible Location

Keep your Lifeline and put it on display. Can you describe your aspirations? Can you see yourself actually doing some of the items on your Lifeline? Does it seem silly or impossible? Is it scary? Good! It means you are making progress! Are you willing to share your ambitions with others? Is there someone who you admire who could mentor you?

Taking the First Step

What is the first step towards progress? Could the initial move be to map out your future milestones before they occur? The philosopher Lao Tzu once said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I would like to suggest that your first step is to find someone who has done what you want to do! If you want to go to Europe, ask someone who has just made the journey. You will feed off their excitement and learn from their experience. If you want to change jobs, ask a person who has just made a career move. Want to go on a cruise? You get the picture. Good luck! 

A Review of FLOAT by A.M. Carley

Are you a writer? If so, then you know that there are times when the ideas dry up, and the writing stops. The good news is that A.M. Carley, the author of FLOAT, challenges her audience with ideas, tools, and methods. This review will provide a quick summary of the contents, with reactions to FLOAT.

The three benefits that stand out are…

  • Usefulness
  • Inspiration
  • Unintended Outcomes

 

FLOAT is useful because there are practical tips and reality checks. For example, Carley outlines ways to deal with deadlines, negative people, and motivation. The very title itself is an acronym for Focus, Listen, Open, Analyze and Tool. In application, the process does produce mental stimulation and emotional encouragement.

FLOAT is inspirational. There is one segment about when a project becomes boring. Carley suggests that this state of mind is actually a message about your writing. In the vignette ‘When pushing through fails’ Carley even visits the topic of retreating from certain writing situations. In a counter intuitive way, this helps a writer become objective in the assessment of projects.

Reading the work of Carley also has unintended outcomes. When I read ‘But Does It Pay?’ it helped me deal with relatives who ask “sold a million books yet?” (This hit home because a relative just told me someone would appreciate my writing after my death!). {Also, I notice that my reading dramatically increases during the reading of FLOAT}.

In Conclusion, FLOAT is a very fast read with practical insights and helpful tools. I would highly suggest FLOAT to any aspiring writer who wants to produce high quality content.