Do Your Thoughts Sabotage Your Success?

Whether you believe it or not, positive attitude is not just a “soft skill” – it is a significant factor in achievement. Most dysfunction in business and personal achievement can be traced back to a root cause: ineffective thinking habits! That does not have to be the case for you, though. You can learn to manage your habits of thought and directly affect your level of performance and achievement.

Are you ready?

The first step in harnessing ineffective thinking habits and moving toward growth is becoming aware; for with an enhanced level of awareness, you can make choices that promote positive attitudes. It sounds so simple, but effective change always begins with awareness. People will choose to change when they are aware that the change will serve their best interest!

What is attitude?

An attitude can best be defined as a habit of thought. You naturally develop certain patterns of thinking about the people and world around you. These thinking habits can be conditioned and patterned by parents, friends, culture, environment, experiences, and circumstances.

If you do not assume personal responsibility for developing your own effective, positive attitudes, the world around you will shape your attitudes with average thinking, which is usually negative and unproductive. As a result, you become a victim of your own ineffective thinking patterns.

Every thought you entertain during the day is either positive or negative. There is no in-between or neutral thought. Every moment of your thinking pattern during the day either serves your growth or serves your stagnation.

Most people describe their attitude as neutral – neither positive nor negative. But everything in nature is either growing or decaying, and the same is true in business. There can be no neutral positions. You and your thoughts are alive and dynamic. The thinking patterns that determine your attitudes either work to bring about your growth or work to bring about your decline. It truly is that simple!

Fear is the enemy of positive thoughts

Everyone is challenged by the emotion of fear. Fear is a natural, human emotion that instinctively causes us to respond with a defensive reflex to any perceived threat. If left unmanaged, your attitudes will be controlled by the emotion of fear.

For example, if you set a goal that requires you to do new things, these new activities will seem uncomfortable at first. That is normal, but you may instinctively respond with fearful feelings because the new activities are uncomfortable. This leads you to psychologically interpret those fearful feelings as “risks” or “dangers,” while in fact these new activities may not be dangerous at all.

We all have a basic fear of risks and the unknown. This response is natural, yet absolutely counterproductive to achievement. All achievement requires you to grow beyond your current status or position. You cannot possibly expect to grow and not confront new activities, skills, and responsibilities. If you allow your natural responses of fear to direct your thinking, you personally sabotage your opportunities for achievement by choosing to quit or not to act.

In fact, most of the people who fail to achieve did not fail at all. They simply allowed fear to control their thinking and decided to quit. The fear of risk and the unknown were stronger than their desire to achieve.

How do I conquer the fear?

The best way to get over this natural inclination to fear the unknown is to plan for it. Have a game plan that you can depend on to start fostering a positive attitude. It will start off feeling forced, but over time it will become a habit. Positive habits inevitably lead to positive outcomes!

To get you started, practice the following five steps that will help you develop the mental toughness needed to face the challenge of your natural instinct of fear… and to win!

Step #1 – Maintain positive expectancy

You must keep the vision of your desired, future achievement in the forefront of your mental focus. Achievement is 80% mental! You will first accomplish your dreams in your mind before you ever realize them materially. Build a vision of your future that is stronger than your fears, and fill your thinking patterns with positive expectancy, which actually attracts the circumstances that you will need to realize your achievement.

Step #2 – Manage your daily choices according to your goals, not your feelings

Managing consistent, positive expectancy is difficult because you never feel the same, physically or emotionally, every single day of the week. If you only work on your goals when you feel good, your actions will be too inconsistent to produce results.

My long-time friend and mentor, Paul J. Meyer, would say, “Follow through with your daily plans regardless of circumstances or what other people say, think, or do.” In other words, your dreams for the future must be strong enough to keep you following through with those plans on a daily basis, no matter how you feel.

Step #3 – Aggressively manage your positive relationships

Your associations with others will either promote your growth or deter it. The thinking habits of those with whom you associate affect your thinking. You must, therefore, foster relationships with people who inspire and influence your growth. In the same vein, aggressively avoid those who impose their negative beliefs or attitudes on you. You cannot engage in negative relationships without being negatively affected, so you must manage your personal relationships aggressively!

Step #4 – Live in the moment!

Life comes to each of us one day at a time. You cannot live in the future any more than you can change the past. The past is gone and tomorrow does not exist. Many people never succeed in their life plans because they are always saying, “I’ll start tomorrow.” Tomorrow turns into next week, next month, and next year. Some call it procrastination, but in reality, it is nothing more than a comfort zone.

You procrastinate on your personal growth because it is simply more comfortable to wait. Learn to live right now! Change your thinking about waiting and develop the attitude of urgency in applying effective actions daily.

Step #5 – Believe

Faith – being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see – is a spiritual term. It makes no sense intellectually and can be understood only from a spiritual perspective. Regardless of your religious or non-religious position, belief is vital in your growth and achievement, and you cannot understand belief without an understanding of faith.

There will be times in your achievement journey when quitting or giving up will seem like the only alternatives. At these times, it will take the strength of your faith to prevail. You must believe that you can achieve, for it is the spark that sustains you.

Putting it all together

Armed with a new level of awareness of how and why negative attitudes are instinctive, you now understand why a positive attitude development program is vital to your growth, success, and achievement.

You must develop a positive, productive attitude. It will never happen naturally, but just because it is not natural does NOT mean you cannot do it! Manage you thoughts and attitudes everyday, conquer the fear, and get ready to ACHIEVE!

Inspiring genuine growth and achievement in leaders, David Byrd has 30 years of experience working with top business executives and their organizations. He is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders worldwide to maximize their leadership potential. For more information about The Next-Level Achievement System® or David’s book, Achievement – A Proven System For Next Level Growth, visit