Getting and holding on to motivation is one of the most difficult tasks in the world of business, but doing it right is really important if you want personal and professional success.
The key? A positive mindset that focuses on can-do action items. Don’t focus too much on problems or, on the other side of the coin, just wish for and visualize change.
We had an elite athletic trainer and researcher in our office recently, and he gave us a step-by-step plan for motivating both ourselves and our employees. It ranged from the basics of motivation to advanced skills such as concentration, confidence and decision-making.
The speaker, Dr. Craig Manning, is tennis coach to world champions and holds a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University. As a human performance scientist, his research has been published in multiple academic journals.
But the real proof is in the fact that it works, whether you’re an athlete, a salesperson or even an artist.
So what does he mean by positive thinking? It goes much further than Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking.” Instead, positive thinking means focusing on real-life wins and reinforcing them with comments, a positive tone of voice and positive body language.
According to Dr. Manning, it takes about three positives to counteract every negative – three “do this” statements for every “don’t do this” comment.
He gave an example from his tennis career. Instead of coaching beginners not to get too close to the net, he showed them the importance of how they position their arms. Whenever they got closer to the goal, he reinforced the behavior. Think of a phrase of just two or three words that summarizes the positive behavior and say it often, he said.
Another example he gave comes from how we talk to toddlers. Don’t tell them not to touch a hot stove, he said. They can’t process that in time. Instead, say something like “come over here” or “look at that” to change the desire.
Here are the first steps to developing a can-do mindset:
- Choose a power statement
- Focus on 2-3 thoughts at a time
- Use proactive thoughts, words and communication
It was easy to see the application for my life and my team at Online Image®. Instead of focusing on potential problems with customer service or sales, I can think about goals and can-do steps for improvement. “Follow up immediately,” I can say, instead of “Don’t leave the client hanging.”
We can even also use these ideas as we interact with and motivate our clients. “Choose relevant keywords,” for example. Not “don’t focus your website on what your business isn’t good at, even if it gets more traffic that way.” The first is simple and leads to direct action while the latter is too long and too negative, and that makes it more confusing.
The next part of the puzzle is positive intelligence. Once you are focused on what you can do to make improvements, contemplate your situation with a psychologically sound approach. In any situation, think of three things you did well and one area of improvement.
Next, move toward controlling the controllable, practicing deliberately and with purpose, motivating yourself and moving away from anxiety by living in the present and focusing on the moment.
A can-do mindset can work for anyone, and I think it’s the best possible path to mastering your craft and improving your life. You can start today, right now, by thinking of three small steps you can take toward improvement.