Ever wondered why certain people appear so confident and assured of their path to success? They seem downright happy--like they know exactly where they're headed.
While we have to acknowledge that we're all on different paths with different personality types pursuing different goals, one thing remains constant: The most successful people think differently.
Their daily thoughts help to influence their actions, words, decisions, and ultimate goals. Consider some of the inner dialogue of the most successful people:
1. "I need to ask for help."
There's a false belief that successful people don't, or shouldn't, ask for help or advice from others, especially their employees. After all, they're already successful, so they don't really need help, right? On the contrary, research has linked people who ask for advice to being perceived as more competent than they are, which is a huge draw if you're a leader of people. The most effective leaders I have studied and coached are emotionally present and ask for help when it's needed. By being real, humble, and emotionally honest--and giving team members permission to be the same--teams connect and collaborate better. That's a recipe for good business outcomes.
2. "I have to focus on the smaller goals to get to that one big goal."
Successful people focus on achieving those smaller goals to hit their big audacious goals. To hit your own big goal this year and avoid getting overwhelmed or discouraged in the process, do what they do: Focus on knocking one small chunk down at a time, and then move on to the next one. As you break the big goal down into smaller chunks, each of those chunks should have its own deadline. For example, if your big goal is one that will take many months or the whole year to reach, take action now by setting realistic target dates to reach your objectives in the immediate future. In other words, find something you can do this week to begin taking some type of action now for next week or next month. If the overarching goal is to save money, make a budget this week for the following week. If it's to lose weight, develop a plan to commit to losing two pounds the following week.
3. "If I don't face my fear head-on, things will only get worse."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It's this fear that paralyzes you before you make that super important call, walk on stage for a keynote the first time, or introduce yourself to the girl of your dreams. The anticipation of fear kicks in and you turn to Jell-O. But after you pull it off, you realize you're not in danger and things actually get much better. The solution? Training your brain to accept that there's no threat will help you switch off the fear response. You'll soon realize that it's the fear of fear that you fear, nothing else. And that will eventually become easy to manage.
4. "Why am I feeling this angry?"
Emotional intelligence is a strength of many successful people. They realize the reason for their anger may run deeper than what they're experiencing on the surface. They probe, process, do a deep dive, and ask themselves, "What's really beneath my anger?" By stepping back and looking at root causes, you'll soon realize that your anger is really a reaction to whatever is disturbing you, usually something unresolved at the bottom of your pile--feelings of anxiety, worry, fear of failure, etc. These are the primary emotions you need to deal with as you contemplate how to make payroll when cash isn't flowing. Anger is always the trigger and a secondary emotion. So what's really bugging you? Get honest with yourself after some processing. Then tell yourself with brutal honesty, "The real reason I'm angry is ... "
5. "What am I accountable for here?"
Accountability is often demanded from others but rarely from ourselves. It's why accountability tends to get overused and misinterpreted. Instead, it's being responsible, taking ownership of something (good or bad), and communicating honestly with transparency.
6. "How can I understand this person better?"
The best way to strengthen relationships at work is through more communication, especially with your ears. Successful people intentionally spend more time with their colleagues and customers to learn more about them--their personal lives, their interests, their goals. This takes the skillful art and science of active listening. You do so by listening intently, with the other person's needs in mind. You listen to the other person's story, searching conversations for depth, meaning, and understanding. The upside for you? You may identify opportunities for deeper connections, business or personal pursuits aligned with mutual interests, and, if you're a manager, opportunities for your employees to contribute more to other projects.
7. "I need to be willing to listen to feedback on this issue."
Many successful people choose to cut themselves off from listening, growing, and developing self-awareness--for fear of what they'll hear. It's extremely hard being exposed to ideas, opinions, and constructive feedback from others when you've been operating in an ego system for so long. On the other hand, people who actively listen to various perspectives are the ones who are open, humble, and accountable. They find the facts in order to respond appropriately to serve the needs of others.
8. "I have to learn this so I can make myself better."
Successful people are lifelong learners; they never stop learning, and never assume they know everything. That's why they show interest in basking in the wisdom of others. This is what initiates the best conversations--learning about what other people do, how they do it, why they do it. People love to talk about themselves, and successful people are smart enough to let them! They are the type of people who show up with the humble gesture of "I want to learn from you."